Keystone logo

What is Transdisciplinary Design and Why Study It?

Design is ingrained into every part of our lives. The art we consume, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, and the homes and cities we live in require strategic design to make all of them fit perfectly into our needs. Working with design is as challenging as it is stimulating, and recent tendencies have made collaboration across different areas of design a must-have. Continue reading to learn more about transdisciplinary design and why to consider studying it…

Jul 25, 2022
  • Education
What is Transdisciplinary Design and Why Study It?

What is Transdisciplinary Design?

Every day, we see breakthroughs that can completely change the way we live our lives. The constant advances in science, technology, healthcare, and many other fields shape our evolution as a society and how we face new, increasingly challenging issues. And complex problems require complex solutions.

The world needs new types of designers who don’t conform to existing rules and navigate complexity, to contribute value to society and communities. Arising from this need, transdisciplinary design, neither a discipline nor a profession, is a way of thinking that embraces design's values and methodology and uses these to unite peoples of different backgrounds, to reframe problems and even form new fields.

This has made us realize that we can’t approach new challenges from a single perspective. For example, if we present an issue related to climate change to a biologist, a lawyer, an engineer, and a politician, they all will have different outlooks on it and come up with different solutions. Joining different points of view and creating new approaches to new problems is indispensable in our current world, and this way of thinking is known as transdisciplinarity.

Many institutions have adopted a transdisciplinary methodology. They have abolished the strict barriers between disciplines, merging different areas of knowledge when addressing a subject, making it possible to look at an issue with more nuance and, often, even creating brand new disciplines born from the interaction between different areas. And this can work in any field of research, including design.

Why study it?

Knowing how to interact with different approaches is a valuable skill for any designer. It improves the ability to identify possible outcomes and create solutions across various contexts. Other skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, research, and communication are the basis on which successful designers build their careers.

Design is a fast-changing field that tackles the challenge of keeping up with the demands of a society in constant evolution while providing creative and practical solutions to current problems and anticipating the needs of the future. Developing every product, brand, or service involves design in crucial stages of the process, and jobs in design are predicted to grow in the next decade.

IED Istituto Europeo di Design

For centuries, Italy has been at the center of the world’s artistic creation. The works of Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio have inspired generations of artists around the globe, and humanity will admire their work for ages to come. Designers like Giorgio Armani, Miuccia Prada, and Gianni and Donatella Versace are only a few of the names to have revolutionized the fashion industry, turning the phrase “Made in Italy” into a market-ruling phenomenon.

There was no better place to be the home of the IED: the Istituto Europeo di Design. Drawing from the rich history of creative excellence spread across Italy, the IED has combined traditional know-how and innovative methodologies to fully prepare its students to excel professionally in whichever design area they choose to specialize in.

The IED School of Design offers a variety of courses built to develop in students the necessary technical and creative skills through practical workshops and partnerships with leading industry experts.

The MA in Transdisciplinary Design program, offered in Milan and Turin, joins research, experimentation, and collaboration to tackle the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through the lens of design, focusing on evolving cities and the future of mobility.

The program doesn’t require a previous degree in design - students from arts, sciences, economics, technology, and other fields are welcome to bring their experience and background into the classroom and contribute to the collaborative and transdisciplinary environment, acquiring knowledge from areas that go beyond design.

Skills and knowledge acquired during the two-year programme will allow the definition of innovative entrepreneurial projects, to access strategic development positions both in private companies dedicated to Research and Development and in Public Administration consultancy, as well as in managing positions within local, regional and national authorities, dealing with mobility, sustainable development and infrastructures. For those wishing to pursue further studies, the programme grants access to the third level of higher education and PhD.

Since 1966, IED has excelled in turning students into talented professionals capable of changing the future through first-class education. For more information on how to apply to become part of IED’s outstanding design programs, in the world’s biggest hubs of creativity and excellence, visit the school’s website and discover more about the paths you can follow.

Article written in association with IED.

Find your perfect program

Use our search to find and compare programs from universities all over the world!

IED - Istituto Europeo di Design
Thaís Roberto


Thaís graduated with a degree in Language and Literature and is now pursuing her master's while working as an English teacher and freelance writer. She lives in an inland city in São Paulo, Brazil, and enjoys binge-watching TV, game nights with her friends, and learning how to play any musical instrument within reach