Politecnico di Milano
Fondazione Politecnico
Domus Academy
La Sapienza
Add Name

Technical partners

Design Library
Slow food

With the patronage of

EXPO in città
Comitato scientifico Expo
Padiglione architettura

With the contribution of

Regione Lombardia
Union Camere

In collaboration with

Comune di Milano + Fabbica del vapore


Design comes out of the interaction between a practice, which seeks to change the state of things, and a culture, which makes sense of this change. The way this happens evolves with time: practices and cultures evolve and so do the ways they interact; and the attention that is paid at different moments to one or other of these interacting polarities also evolves. In the current period of turbulent transformation of society and the economy, it is important to go back and reflect on the cultural di-mension of design, its capacity to produce not only solutions but al-so meanings, and its relations with pragmatic aspects. Good design does not limit itself to tackling functional and technological ques-tions, but it also always adopts a specific cultural approach that emerges, takes shape and changes direction through a continuous circle of experimenting and reflecting. Because the dimension and complexity of the problems is growing, it is becoming evident that to overcome them it is, above all, necessary to bring new sense systems into play. This is ground on which design, by its very nature, can do much. In-deed, the ability to create a virtuous circle between culture and practical experimentation is, or should be, its main and distinctive characteristic. However, for this really to happen it is necessary to trigger new discussion and reflection about the nature and purpose of design practice and culture. We need to take a step back in history and look at what they were like in the past; then come back to the present and ask ourselves how they have changed and are changing in today's world in transition. This process could start with some questions, for example: how do the new design practices produce culture? Vice versa, how can this culture orientate and offer common horizons to the multiplicity of practices that take place in design activities? How does this emerging culture tie up with the design tradition of the last century? How can this add depth and consistence to the design culture of the 21st century?

The virtuous circle is the Cumulus' summer conference.

Cumulus - International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media

Cumulus is a non-profit organization and network for institutions of art, design and media. It is the only global forum for partnership, friendship and sharing knowledge aimed at enhancing the education and research of art, design and media. Our members are prominent institutions from over 40 countries around the world providing degree studies for 300 000 students.

Cumulus provides its members a wide, dynamic and flexible international context for dialogue and innovation. It offers advice, assistance and information enhancing exchange and mobility of students and teachers. The goal is to expand our networks and increase sharing of know-how and best practices among academics, professionals and other stakeholders under the umbrella of Cumulus. Cumulus inspires its members to strive towards a more sustainable, human-centered and creative future.  

Cumulus is actively seeking dialogue opportunities with academic and professional institutions, NGOs, governmental institutions, etc. We aim at bringing issues of design education and research on the agenda, influencing policy making, creating platforms of collaboration and support the developments in the field. Over the years Cumulus has formed partnerships and dialogues with AIGA, ADR Russia, BEDA, DESIS, DINZ, DSR, EESC EU, EIDD, ELIA, IASDR, ICOGRADA, IF, ICSID, INDEX, IxDA, NASAD, OHIM EU, OTTAGONO, PROARTE, UNICEF, among others. Cumulus is endorsed by UNESCO.  

Cumulus Association
Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture PO BOX 31000, 00076 Aalto, Finland


Call for paper
The call is now closed.
We thanks all reviewers for the precious help.

The Proceedings are now available from this website:

Yoko Akama Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Cindy Kohtala Aalto University
Jose Allard Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile Ilpo Koskinen The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Zoy Anastassakis Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Peter Kroes TU Delft
Nik Baerten Pantopicon Peter Gall Krogh Aarhus University
Giovanni Baule Politecnico di Milano Carla Langella Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli
Elisa Bertolotti Politecnico di Milano Yanki Lee Hong Kong Design Institute
Alessandro Biamonti Politecnico di Milano Elisa Lega University of Brighton
Massimo Bianchini Politecnico di Milano Wessie Ling Northumbria University
Luigi Bistagnino Politecnico di Torino Cyntia Malagutti Centro Universitário Senac
Sandy Black University of the Arts London Naude Malan University of Johannesburg
Spyros Bofylatos University of the Aegean Ilaria Mariani Politecnico di Milano
Gustavo Borba Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos Tuuli Mattelmaki Aalto University
Brigitte Borja de Mozota  Paris College of Art Alvise Mattozzi Università di Bolzano
Clare Brass Royal College of Art Mike McAuley University of Newcastle
Caelli Brooker University of Newcastle Lisa McEwan Auckland University of Technology
Graeme Brooker Middlesex University London Stuart Medley Edith Cowan University Western Australia
Sam Bucolo University of Technology Sydney Massimo Menichinelli Openp2pdesign
Daniela Calabi Politecnico di Milano Cynthia Mohr University of North Texas
Barbara Camocini Politecnico di Milano Nicola Morelli Aalborg University
Angus Campbell University of Johannesburg Afonso Morone Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Daria Cantù Politecnico di Milano Francesca Murialdo Politecnico di Milano
Michele Capuani Politecnico di Milano Andreas Novy WU Vienna University of Economics and Business
Michelle Catanzaro University of Newcastle Marina Parente Politecnico di Milano
Manuela Celi Politecnico di Milano Raffaella Perrone ELISAVA Escola Superior de Disseny
Eunji Cho Hunan University Margherita Pillan Politecnico di Milano
Jaz Choi Queensland University of Technology Francesca Piredda Politecnico di Milano
Matteo Ciastellardi Politecnico di Milano Marco Pironti Università di Torino
Carla Cipolla Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro Paola Pisano Università di Torino
Chiara Colombi Politecnico di Milano Giovanni Profeta Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana
Sara Colombo Politecnico di Milano Agnese Rebaglio Politecnico di Milano
Marta Corubolo Politecnico di Milano Livia Rezende Royal College of Art
Vincenzo Cristallo Politecnico di Milano Dina Riccò Politecnico di Milano
Robert Crocker University of South Australia Francesca Rizzo Università di Bologna
Heather Daam Institute without Boundaries Toronto Rui Roda University of Aveiro
Djon De Moraes Universidade do Estado de Minas Gerais Liat Rogel Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti
Chiara Del Gaudio Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos Valentina Rognoli Politecnico di Milano
Alessandro Deserti Politecnico di Milano Margherita Russo Università degli studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia
Loredana Di Lucchio Sapienza Università di Roma Dario Russo Università di Palermo
Jonathan Edelman Stanford University Fatina Saikaly Cocreando
Davide Fassi Politecnico di Milano Giuseppe Salvia Nottingham Trent University
David Fern Middlesex University London Daniela Sangiorgi Lancaster University
Silvia Ferraris Politecnico di Milano Daniela Selloni Politecnico di Milano
Venere Ferraro Politecnico di Milano Anna Seravalli Malmo University
Alain Findeli University of Nimes Giulia Simeone Politecnico di Milano
Elena Formia Università di Bologna Michele Simoni Università Parthenope
Marcus Foth Queensland University of Technology Eduardo Staszowski Parsons The New School for Design
Silvia Franceschini Politecnico di Milano Cristiano Storni University of Limerick
Teresa Franqueira Universidade de Aveiro Shehnaz Suterwalla Royal College of Art
Carlo Franzato Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos Kate Sweetapple University of Technology Sydney
Karine Freire Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos Virginia Tassinari MAD Faculty Genk
Marisa Galbiati Politecnico di Milano Carlos Teixeira Parsons The New School for Design
Laura Galluzzo Politecnico di Milano  Adam Thorpe Central Saint Martin
Giulia Gerosa Politecnico di Milano Paola Trapani Unitec Institute of Technology Auckland
Miaosen Gong Jiangnan University Raffaella Trocchianesi Politecnico di Milano
Carma Gorman University of Texas at Austin Federica Vacca Politecnico di Milano
Francesco Guida Politecnico di Milano Fabrizio Valpreda Politecnico di Torino
Ashley Hall Royal College of Art Francesca Valsecchi Tongji University
Michael Hann University of Leeds Beatrice Villari Politecnico di Milano
Geoff Hinchcliffe University of Canberra Joan Vinyets Joan Vinyets
Denny Ho The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Katarina Wetter Edman University of Gothenburg
Stefan Holmlid Linkoping University Robert Young Northumbria University
Lorenzo Imbesi Sapienza Università di Roma Salvatore Zingale Politecnico di Milano
Martin Kohler HafenCity University Hamburg

Cumulus MI2015 - Call for paper [pdf]

The conference is organised into 7 tracks, corresponding to the 7 activities in which the virtuous design circle can take place:

The complexity and variety of contemporary cultural production informs the quality of design. Design approaches and nurtures innovation with cross-cultural historical references and multidisciplinary stimuli. Design’s ability to explore the surrounding world and learn from traditions, other cultures and other disciplines reveals opportunities for the future and generates new cultural production, in a virtuous and transformative circle from reflection to experimentation. This track focuses on this continuous nurturing process. Especially welcome are papers reporting on: experiences of how this process can be activated and integrated into design practice; examples and replicable models for translating such cultural references into innovative design; the more fertile fields involved; the impact of such cross-fertilization on the outcome of design. Predictions about the future are made in the present from among possible futures, from long or short term interpretations of current turbulence and how these may fit together

Not only has design discovered the heterogeneity of contexts through globalisation, but it is also becoming increasingly aware of the complexity and value of time as an inevitable variable in design. The present is made of predictions for the future among possible futures, of short or long term interpretations of current instabilities and their possible combinations. As a result, artefacts emerge at different times and live different lives according to their cultural setting. Each of them tells a possible story, determines its relationship with a brand, seeks a relationship with its user while managing time wisely. How can we understand such dynamics and include them in design processes? How can we envision the possible and give shape to uncertainty? How can we represent the complexity of the product system and its declination into markets distinguished by geography and commercial logic? How can we generate and interact with the various subjects in design storytelling?

Design is intrinsically an experimental process, which shapes individual and collective knowledge, as well as a tacit and explicit one within intelligible models and artfacts. It creates prototypes and shared knowledge and research models, which support collective ideation and production. This track is focused on how design can exploit this experimental attitude as a powerful source to investigate new cultural models and practices. More specifically it aims to explore the following issues: what is the nature of design experimentation and prototyping in an era where tools for implementing them are accessible to non-professionals within a global knowledge network (making, digital fabrication)? What roles are emerging for design in the current democratization of its knowledge and practices? How can the experimental nature of design be used in a broader context of application to positively drive social and cultural change?

Incubating / Scaling 
Design's role today in envisioning and conceiving social interactions, practices and behaviours in the form of solutions and services, is more and more concerned with the need to understand how to scale-up such complex artefacts. This track focuses on how design can support incubation policies or the replication of initiatives, solutions and services that imply complex social interactions, often involving social innovation, and that are likely to evolve into business ventures or structured organisations. Specifically, it aims to explore the following issues: what are the features that design can work on when it comes to scaling-up a solution? What methods and tools can it adopt? What skills must designers develop to make a venture out of a potential innovation? How must the design discipline change in order to embrace this challenge?

Assessment is a thermometer of the state of design. It may be an instrument for correcting the direction of design, for verifying a methodology or for questioning value systems. This track seeks to open a debate on the role of assessment today in its numerous forms: from competitions designed to innovate products, to analysing the impact of a process on an ecosystem, or formalising a quality judgement on the performance of a knowledge product. The output of design is becoming more and more complex, processes are governed by phenomena such as crowdsourcing, and sharing takes place at all levels. We are constantly asking ourselves how we can make assessment processes transparent and about how appropriate and meaningful an evaluation based entirely on quantitive analysis may be in the age of democratic design and open source tools.

Disseminating / Communicating
Through its media dimension communication design is a determining factor in the production, organisation, sharing and diffusion of knowledge. Acting on the perception (from visibility to understanding) of various kinds of phenomena (social, scientific, cultural, economic...), it facilitates orientation, access, positioning and decision-making processes by impacting directly on the behaviour of the various stakeholders. In this framework, the convergence and integration of different media, formats and languages contributes to how well information is understood, shared and communicated. It generates shared spaces for interaction and participation; its tools and artefacts facilitate recognition of the actors in play and help to develop a culture of constructive criticism and active participation in social life, work and politics. With this in view, how does communication design operate and in what problem areas? What are the tools and processes it brings into play?

Training / Educating
The growing complexity of the issues which design deals with presupposes increasingly extensive, diversified skills and abilities, such that the very figure of the designer is changing. The familiarity with humanistic disciplines that constitute a significant part of some designers' training, leads them to become cultured professionals, well-able to proffer interpretations of the transformations underway in society. In professional design practice we can see a thrust towards change due to evolution in the socio-economic context on the one hand, and technological evolution on the other. In what way do these changes impact on the education of the new generations? In a world that dedicates growing attention to financial, managerial and technological aspects, what role do the humanistic disciplines play in a designer's training? We say that we are seeing the birth of a new generation of designers willing to create their own enterprise: what training should they receive? Is it possible to say that self production technologies are determining a new figure of designer-craftsman?

Key dates

Call For Papers Launch Wed  23 July 2014

Submission of Full Papers Mo 24 Nov 2014

Early Bird Conference Registration Tue 23 Dec 2014 - Mon 16 Mar 2015

Final note of acceptance of the full paper Thu 22 Jan 2015

Conference Registration Opens Tue 17 Mar 2015

Delivery of the final papers Wed 15 Apr 2015

Conference 3-7 June 2015

Exhibition and permanent Workshop

Cumulus, the International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media, with Politecnico di Milano and Sapienza University of Rome, is organizing an exhibition and permanent workshop titled “Design to feed the world”, which will be opening as the final event of Cumulus Milan 2015, at Fabbrica del Vapore, on Saturday June 6th at 6.00 p.m. The exhibition will be open from June 7th to June 30th.

“Design to feed the world” exhibits a selection of projects received from students and research teams from schools that are members of Cumulus, the International Association. Projects are inspired by the central theme of Expo Milan 2015 “Feeding the Planet - Energy for Life” and the exhibition aims to highlight how the design culture applied to Expo broad theme of nutrition, leads to important results in various areas of Design research, namely Product, Communication, Fashion, Interior, Interaction, Service, etc.

• DfW e-invitation

• Press ITA FdW

• Press ENG FdW


Key note speakers










Chiara Alessi is a design curator and critic. She collaborates with some of the main magazines in the sector, including "Domus", "Interni" and "KLAT", and has a blog on "Il Fatto Quotidiano". Within the ambits of contemporary design she has edited numerous publications and interviewed some of the most interesting international authors in her generation. Growing up in the tradition of one of the historic design factories, for some years she has been focusing especially on the new Italian design culture and its implications. Her book “Dopo gli anni Zero. Il nuovo design italiano” (2004) was published by Laterza and she is currently working on the next one: “Design senza designer” (2016).  She lives and works in Milan.



Odo Fioravanti graduated in Industrial Design at the Design School of the Politecnico di Milano. Since 1998 he is based in Milan and has worked as an industrial designer, experimenting among other things with graphic and exhibition design. He has taught in many design schools and academies: Politecnico di Milano, IUAV in Venice, Domus Academy, HEAD Genève. His works have been featured in many International exhibitions and in 2010 the Design Museum of the Triennale di Milano displayed his work in the personal exhibition “Industrious Design”. In 2011 he won the Compasso d’Oro Prize ADI with the Frida chair by Pedrali.



Patricia Urquiola was born in Oviedo, Spain but lives and works in Milan.
Amongst her latest architectural projects: the Museo del Gioiello in Vicenza, Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona, das Stue Hotel in Berlin and the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel in Milan; showroom and installations for Gianvito Rossi, BMW, Missoni, Moroso, Molteni, Officine Panerai, H&M, Santoni and the general concept of Pitti Immagine Firenze. She designs for the most important Italian and international companies, such as B&B, Boffi Cucine, Moroso, Molteni, Mutina, Kartell, Agape, Rosenthal, Baccarat, Kettal, Kvadrat, Andreu World e Hansgrohe. Some of her products are exhibited in Museums and collections around the world and she has won several international prices and awards. Ambassador of Expo Milano 2015.



Founder and Director of the Stanford ChangeLabs, which has been developing the theoretical underpinnings and new models towards an advanced innovation methodology directed towards complex multi-dimensional challenges such as climate change, or economic inclusion. His main focus is in the tension between human and natural systems, particularly in developing world contexts. The trans-disciplinary nature of his work, which combines design thinking, applied social psychology, behavioral economics, diffusion theory, and resilience theory is leading to the formation of a new type of innovation: “Innovation of Scaled Transformations”. Banny teaches innovation, strategy, and leadership at Stanford University’s, and is involved in scaled innovation in various fields.

Parallel sessions program

Working groups

To select and register please click here:

Cumulus working groups are constituted by members around specific topics. Their activity depends on the contribution from members. Meetings offer a forum for debate and exchange of ideas and best practices in different areas of interest. Working groups meet primarily during the Cumulus conferences, once or twice a year. The nature of the group can be permanent or occasional. They complement the task of Cumulus and contribute to promote a dialogue between Cumulus and national and international academic institutions in a smaller platform concentrating on the co-operation between higher education networks in art, design and media and the development of effective networks in order to  initiate joint projects such as competitions, exhibitions and awards to promote innovative work in art, design and media. Taking parts in a working group  can help to collect and distribute basic information about Members research and academic activities in specific fields.

The next working group will be:

Wednesday 3rd June 2015 // 10 am - 1 pm @polimi Via Durando, 10

Wednesday 3rd June 2015 // 10 am - 4 pm @polimi Via Durando, 10
• X-FILES - international coordinators working group

Wednesday 3rd June 2015 // 2 pm - 4 pm @polimi Via Durando, 10
• REVEDA: Research Vectors in Design and Art
--------> format

Friday 5th June 2015 // 10 am - 1 pm + 2 pm - 5 pm @ied Via Bezzecca, 5
• X-FILES - international coordinators working group

Friday 5th June 2015 // 2.30 pm - 5 pm @ied Via Bezzecca, 5

Friday 5th June 2015 // 2 pm - 4 pm @MATERIAL CONNEXION ITALIA
V.le Sarca 336/F - Bulding 16 - 20126 Milan

Saturday 6th June 2015
SPECIAL VISITS - in Turin, in Cantù, in Citadelle dell’arte > PDF link + Eventbrite book system

Saturday 6th June 2015 // 10 am - 15 pm
• CRAFT EXPERIENCE WORKSHOP – CHEESE @Azienda Agricola ZIPO, Zibido San Giacomo
• CRAFT EXPERIENCE WORKSHOP – PASTA @Foodies' Place in Gessate, Milano
• CRAFT EXPERIENCE WORKSHOP - TEXTILE @L’Hub in Ripa Ticinese, Ripa di Porta Ticinese 69, Milano

To read details download the pdf here LINK PDF

Coordination for the working groups: Anne Schoonbrodt

Desis Labs

THE DESIS LABS: the Cumulus Milan conference will offer the opportunity to organize, besides the general assembly, a series of activities, workshops and seminars curated by the DESIS Labs around the DESIS emerging issues, recent works and hot topics (

DESIS AGENDA --------> PDF file

To select and register please click here:

Wednesday 3rd June 2015 - 14 am - 16.30 pm: DESIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Friday 5th June 2015 - 14.30 am - 17.00 pm
DESIS Makers’ Inquiry. National Investigation on Makers and Making
DESIS Food – Cluster: Design for Social Food
DESIS for TRANSITION: The Social Innovation Journey
DESIS Philosophy Talk Series: Storytelling and Design for Social Innovation

Saturday June 6th 2015 - 10.00 - 12.00

Visits and tours

The Cumulus organizers propose 12 visits of Studios, walks in Milan, trips to Turin and Cantù (Furniture district) and to the Città della dell’Arte on the Friday and Saturday

click here to download the program IN MILAN

click here to download the program OUTSIDE MILAN - TORINO TOUR

click here to download the program OUTSIDE MILAN - CITTÀ DELL'ARTE TOUR

click here to book on the Eventbrite system


The proceedings are available for online consultation from link


Politecnico di Milano

Scuola del Design
via Durando 10, 20158, Milano, Italy

For informations:

Cumulus Association

Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture
PO BOX 31000, 00076 Aalto, Finland
Secretary General
Eija Salmi
+358 505 927 060
Justyna Molik
+358 505 636 948
Professor Luisa Collina
School of Design, Politecnico di Milano

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Contact Us

Politecnico di Milano
via Durando 10 - 20158
Milano - ITALY

School of Design - Relé office
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