Rethinking design through the lens of degrowth

In this talk, Julia Schaeper will draw on her PhD research to emphasize the need to shift design practices towards degrowth. Echoing Antonio Gramsci’s insight that “the old world is dying, and the new one struggles to be born,” the session will critically assess the challenges posed by our current economic landscape and the role of design within it.

By establishing a theoretical foundation for degrowth, we will examine conflicts between perpetual growth and sustainable living. Julia will introduce alternative economic frameworks emerging from the degrowth movement and conclude by reflecting on the transformative potential of integrating degrowth principles into design practices.

As part of a short-term project focused on this topic, the talk aims to raise awareness among designers about the need for degrowth and to inspire practical reflections on design project work.
The talk will happen on-site in the lecture hall (room 137) and won’t be recorded. 

Julia Schaeper brings extensive experience as a service designer, regenerative practitioner and innovation strategist, with a career spanning more than 15 years in large public and private organisations including the NHS, Adidas, AbbVie, Sanofi, Livework and Engine Service Design. Inspired by Ostrom’s Nobel Prize-winning research on ecological transitions, Julia fosters regenerative cultures through design within organisations. Her focus is on developing an innovation mindset that prioritises planet-centred design.

Julia’s expertise lies in planetary health, with a significant portion of her career dedicated to improving health outcomes through design while promoting wellbeing. Her PhD research explored how service design practices can contribute to planetary health and regenerative business models, addressing pressing sustainability challenges. She holds a PhD from the University of the Arts, London and a master’s degree from the Glasgow School of Art, École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle in Paris, and Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. Julia is also recognised internationally for her contributions to service design and lectures on the topic across Europe and beyond.