Kristel Van Ael has a background in industrial product development. She is one of the managing partners at Namahn, a human-centred design agency, with her main focus geared towards strategic design and knowledge development. At Namahn, Kristel constantly develops new methods and tools. She is the lead author of the Service Design Toolkit and Systemic Design Toolkit, which can be found online. For the latter, she collaborates with Philippe Vandenbroeck of shiftN (Belgium), Alex Ryan of the MaRS Solutions Lab (Canada), and Peter Jones of OCAD University (Canada) who also manages the international Systemic Design Association.
Kristel is hooked by systemic design and believes that designers can and should contribute to systemic change by understanding how everything is interrelated and how products can be designed and deployed as leverages towards a better future. She is a co-teacher in product-service-system design and lead-teacher in systemic design at Antwerp University.
Outside the world of design, Kristel is very interested in graphic novels such as Maus (Art Spiegelman), Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi) or Buddha (Osamu Tezuka) and loves spending her Sunday afternoons reading them.
'Systemic design – combining design with systems thinking'
When service design challenges expand in scale and complexity to a ‘system level,’ user-centred design methods fail to match the required complexity. Such challenges can be addressed by combining the conventional design practices with systems thinking, an approach that looks at the interconnections between the parts of the systems and the emergent behaviour arising out of the interactions. For designers this ultimately leads to considering products and services as leverage points towards the desired change... more >