Circular Design

Decreasing Impact on Nature Offering Mutual Adaptability

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The advent of the circular economy is showing enormous potential to those who are ready to change perspective. However, it is not easy to understand how to make the shift, when the organization is already traditionally making a profit. Through a circular design approach, we provide the necessary elements to imagine, plan, set up, deliver and follow up a circular project. It can be fully disruptive or it can be incremental. Do not worry, we observe your organization and propose which is the suitable track.

We offer consultancy and services on the following areas:

Materials & Resources

Understanding the role of materials in the project and the different resources available to imagine the future applications.

Design Strategies for Transition

Everything that surrounds the project is important and strategic. It is key to understand  how to connect systematically every single element.

Alternative Business Models

Not all business models should seek the same goal. Profit is key, but equality and ecology are as well. It is fundamental to consider all possible scenarios. 

Technological Independence

The advent of the sharing economy empowers the project with open-sourced tools. Smart access to technologies amplifies the possibilities of the project.

On this site, you will find the core of our research interest. We have been training and researching in the different subjects related to the role of design towards a more circular and balanced society. The main contribution of our research in the field of circular design deals with the possibilities systematic creative thinking provides when working with other disciplines. Materiality end technological empowerment are key elements where designers can contribute to the transition towards a better society.

Natural systems are more advanced than human systems. The evolution of natural systems has more than 3.500.000.000 years of development while human systems have only 200.000 years. In this transition is not only important to understand natural systems and take inspiration from them, but also preserve them and live with balance. We believe designers have a key role in this transition through systematic thinking and understanding materiality is essential to construct better circular societies.

Explore the different projects related to circular design, as well as the different publications in journals and conferences. Herein you find all projects and publications linked to the original source. Enjoy!

Some Projects on Circular Design

MaDe - Material Designers

MaDe is a project, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of The European Union, which aims at boosting talents towards circular economies across Europe.
Material Designers are agents of change. They can design, redesign, reform, reuse, and redefine materials giving them an entirely new purpose. Increasing the potential of materials they can go on to research, advise, educate and communicate what materials are and can be in the immediate, near, and far future, implementing positive social, economical, political, and environmental change across all sectors towards a responsibly designed future.

Partners - Elisava, Matter, Politecnico di Milano.

Associated Partners –

Burg Giebichenstein Halle, ESAD Matosinhos, Estonian Academy of Arts, Form Design Center, Iceland University of the Arts, Kolding Design School.

The DIY-Materials

Partners: Politecnico di Milano, Universidad de los Andes.

Associated Partners –

Materials Experience Lab, IMD Offenbach.

Scholars framed and defined the emerging phenomenon of self-produced materials with the first definition of DIY-Materials in 2015. The definition describes the materials as self-produced by designers, who follow their design inspiration while looking for original and unusual sources and adopting a low-cost approach and processes. In short, based on tinkering, this practice guarantees obtaining some material drafts or material demonstrators with which it is possible to discover and explore the design space of materials.
The phenomenon of DIY-Materials is ubiquitous today, and there are many examples of materials self-produced by designers after intense exploration and tinkering.

Research partners and collaborators


Journal Articles

-Ayala-Garcia, C., Nieman Jansen, C.J. (2021). Reproponer el cuero desde una perspectiva de diseño sostenible. In: Cuaderno 126 | Centro de Estudios en Diseño y Comunicación, Universidad de Palermo. pp 31-41, ISSN: 1668-0227

-Rognoli, V. Ayala-Garcia, C. (2020). Materiales DIY: Un enfoque tecnológico de los materiales para el diseño. In: A3 Manos. Instituto Superior De Diseño. Universidad de la Habana, Volumen 12, Enero-Junio, 2020, ISSN: 2412-5105

-Vela, S.F., Ayala-Garcia, C.(2020). Émotions à la carte: Exploring emotional paradoxes through edible DIY-materials for product design. In: International Journal of Food Design, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2019, Pages 139-153, pp.139-153. ISSN:20566522 (Scopus)

– Rognoli, V., Ayala-Garcia, C. (2018). Materia emocional. Los materiales en nuestra relación emocional con los objetos. In: Revista Chilena de Diseño, rchd: creación y pensamiento, vol. 3 (4), pp.1-12. ISSN:0719-837X

-Rognoli, V., Ayala-Garcia, C. (2018). Material activism. New hybrid scenarios between design and technology. In: Cuaderno 70 | Centro de Estudios en Diseño y Comunicación, Universidad de Palermo. pp 105-115 ISSN: 1668-0227

– Ayala-Garcia, C., Rognoli V. (2017). The New Aesthetic of DIY-Materials. In: The Design Journal, volume 20, 2017 – Issue sup1: Design for Next: Proceedings of the 12th European Academy of Design Conference, Sapienza University of Rome, 12-14 April 2017, edited by Loredana Di Lucchio, Lorenzo Imbesi, Paul Atkinson, ISBN 978-1-138-09023-1, pp. S375-S389 (Scopus)

-Rognoli, V., Ayala-Garcia, C., Parisi, S. (2015). The material experiences as DIY-Materials: self production of wool filled starch based composite (NeWool) In: Making Futures Journal Vol IV, Plymouth College of Art. ISSN: 2042-1664

-Ayala, C. Patiño, L. (2014) Estrategias para mejorar las prácticas de la enseñanza y el aprendizaje de los materiales y los procesos para el diseño de productos en Colombia. In: Revista MasD N°14, Vol. 8 ISSN: 2027-095X

-Muñoz, L., Ayala, C. (2013) Estudio De La Compatibilidad Geométrica De Sub-Sistemas Para El Diseño De Un Vehículo Híbrido Todoterreno. Scientia Et Technica v.18 (pp.321 – 326), ISSN: 0122-1701

-Ayala, C. Quijano, A, Ruge, C. (2011) Los materiales como medio para estimular procesos de creación. In: Dearq v.8 (pp.44 – 53) ISSN: 2011-3188

Book Chapters

-Rognoli, V., Ayala-Garcia, C. (2021). Defining the DIY-Materials approach. In: Materials Experience 2: Expanding territories of materials and design. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN: 978-0-12-819244-3 (Scopus)

-Rognoli, V., Ayala-Garcia, C., Pollini, B. (2021). DIY Recipes: Ingredients, processes & materials qualities. In: MaDe: Material Designers, Boosting talents toward circular economies. pp 27-33 ISBN: 978-84-09-24439-3

-Orozco-Alvarez, M., Ayala-Garcia, C., Zuleta Montoya, F., Avila Forero, J.S. (2021). La Investigación-Creación en Diseño: cuatro casos de generación de nuevo conocimiento desde la disciplina. In: Investigación + Creación a través del territorio. pp 74-105 ISBN 978-958-5123-83-0

– Ayala-Garcia, C., Rognoli, V. (2019). The Materials Generation. In L. Rampino, I. Mariani, (Eds). Advancements in Design Research. Milano. Franco Angeli. ISBN: 978-88-917-7229-9


-Zhou, Z., Rognoli, V., Ayala-Garcia, C. (2018). Educating designers through Materials Club. In: Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Higher Education Advances (HEAd’18). Valencia, Spain, June 2018 – ISBN:978-84-9048-690-0

-Parisi, S., Spallazzo, D., Ferraro, V., Ferrara, M., Ceconello, M., Ayala-Garcia, C., Rognoli, V. (2018). Mapping ICS Materials: Interactive, Connected, and Smart Materials. In: Karwowski, Waldemar, Ahram, Tareq (Eds.). Intelligent Human Systems Integration, Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Intelligent Human Systems Integration (IHSI 2018): Integrating People and Intelligent Systems, January 7-9, 2018, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Volume 722 of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing series, ISBN 978-3-319-73888-8. pp.1-7 (Scopus)

Ayala-Garcia, C., Rognol, V., Karana, E. (2017). Five Kingdoms of DIY Materials for Design. In Alive. Active. Adaptive: Proceedings of International Conference on Experiential Knowledge and Emerging Materials (EKSIG 2017), June 19-20, Delft, the Netherlands, pp. 222-234. (Scopus)

Rognoli, V., Ayala-Garcia, C., Bengo, I. (2017) DIY-Materials as enabling agents of innovative social practices and future social business. In: Proceedings of International Congress of Design FORMA 2017, Cuba.

Parisi, S., Rognoli, V., Ayala-Garcia, C. (2016). Designing materials experiences through passing of time – Material driven design method applied to mycelium-based composites. In: Celebration & Contemplation. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Design and Emotion 2016 (pp. 239-255). ISBN/EAN: 978-94-6186-725-4 (Scopus)

Rognoli, V., Ayala-Garcia, C., Parisi, S. (2016). The emotional value of Do-It-Yourself materials. In: Celebration & Contemplation. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Design and Emotion 2016 (pp. 633-641). ISBN/EAN: 978-94-6186-725-4 (Scopus)

Ayala-Garcia, C (2015) The Basis of Processes – Experimenting with Food to Re-Shape the Industry Language. In: Cumulus Milan-The Virtuous Circle Proceedings (pp.84) .ISBN: 978-88-386-7485-3

Ayala, C. (2014). Experimenting With Materials – A Source For Designers To Give Meaning To New Applications. In: The colors of care: Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Design and Emotion 2014 (pp. 408-417). ISBN: 978-958-774-070-7 (Scopus)