The Design Policy Lab Group

The Design Policy Lab Group

What is the Design Policy Lab?

We are a research lab at the Design Department of the Politecnico di Milano.
We work on ‘design + policy’ focusing on researching, implementing, and evaluating policy through design and design through policy.

What does it advocate for?

We are an action-research Centre.
We want to transform the practice of policymaking and create more meaning and impact by changing the way we govern and are governed.
We want to contribute to re-synchronising governments with society, and to make policy more experimental.

To achieve this, we mainly:

Advocate - Providing spaces/initiatives for engagement and advocacy for Policy and Design involving all the actors of the innovation ecosystem.
Influence - Using data visualization and policy evaluation to influence the future of Policy for/by Design in Europe but also nations and regions.
Engage - Transferring the knowledge gathered to support governments and develop a future strategy for growth and innovation.

What it does?

Promotion and Advocacy – to support the international and local debate about innovating the public sector.
Research and Consultancy – to conduct smaller experiments in applying new governance.
Action research – to support public administrations in facing current challenges using design methods, evaluation, and data visualisation.
Education and Training – to help public officials enlarge their skillset and include design approaches for policy making.

What approach does it use?

Understand complexity – help public administrations gather insights and use data meaningfully, while investigating the real needs of policy beneficiaries on the field.
Interpret complexity – find the most relevant elements to define public issues and evaluate the most interesting possibilities for experimenting resolutions.
Handle complexity – set fast experiments to test the validity of solutions and support the scale up of successes.


What experience does it have?

The team of the Design Policy Lab works on design policy since the early 2000, having begun with a special focus on the Italian national and regional systems to then enlarge its interest to Europe at large.

The work started with the project SDI (Sistema Design Italia - Italian Design System), co-funded by the Italian Ministry of University, Research, and Education in 1998. This has involved 17 universities across the nation to understand the national design system and raise awareness on the value of design for policy makers, companies and practitioners. Other national relevant initiatives have been the projects DesignFocus and Design Directory Italia aimed at visualizing the regional design system in the Lombardy Region in Italy.

At European level, the team has coordinated DeEP | Design in European Policy, a research project exploring the topic of the evaluation of design policy, and has lead the policy area of Design for Europe supporting the uptake of design in innovation policy Europe-wide and delivering co-creation activities in/with a number of countries (e.g. Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Portugal, Estonia).

Currently, the Design Policy Lab is involved in delivering a number of research projects both in Italy and abroad

Download The Design Policy Lab presentation brochure here.


Stefano Maffei Design policy Lab

Stefano Maffei
Full Professor, School of Design, Politecnico di Milano

Beatrice Villari design policy lab

Beatrice Villari
Assistant Professor, Department of Design, Politecnico di Milano

Marzia Mortati design policy lab

Marzia Mortati
Assistant Professor, Department of Design, Politecnico di Milano

francesco leoni design policy lab

Francesco Leoni
PhD Candidate, Politecnico di Milano

M.Sc. Candidates

Andrea Taverna Design policy Lab

Andrea Taverna