Please find below the list of confirmed Working Groups, with a brief description shared by each of them about their participation at the Design Culture(s) | Cumulus Roma 2021 conference.

All times indicated are Roman time (CET/CEST)


  9:30-10:50 11:10-12:50 14:30-15:50 16:10-17:30
8 June – TUESDAY
9 June – WEDNESDAY – Business, Strategy & Innovation – New Eating Habits – xFiles – Cumulus PhD Network
10 June – THURSDAY – Women In Design – Leadership and Strategy
11 June – FRIDAY – Digital Culture P-R-E ixDA
– Contemporary Art
– Medical Design
– Service Design
– Reveda
– Art and Design Teacher Education and Pedagogy
– Fashion & Textile
– xFiles



FRIDAY 11 JUNE, 11:10-12:50

Within the Cumulus network there are a lot of expertise and knowledge in art and design pedagogy. We are interested in sharing and enriching this expertise. Cumulus Rome 2021 AADTE working group session will focus on distance and blended learning experiences, good practices and tools for development in the context of art and design education.
You are warmly welcome to join the meeting with a short introduction or case study presentation or just take part in discussions. If you are interested in giving a presentation, please contact Martti Raevaara ( and send your title and 3 key words by Fri 21.5.2021.
More information about the AADTE see our blog

Business, Strategy & Innovation

WEDNESDAY 9 JUNE, 9:30-10:50

This working group deals about the relationship between design schools and companies in all their forms (training, partnership, professorship, incubator, etc). It is also about the evolution of design as a strategic discipline of innovation in a socio-economic context disrupted by big shifts in ecological awareness, digital culture and the rise of artificial intelligence (robots).
The designer is increasingly called upon to take on the role of project manager able to put around the table, ingeeners, marketers, artists, philosophers, sociologists…all disciplines for a transversal sharing.
Beyond his capacity to create and to represent, he/she must have an economic and managerial intelligence towards his/her production.
As design has become a strategic discipline, it is likely that the careers of designers will evolve into strategic management positions for which knowledges of generating added value is preeminent.

Contemporary Art 

FRIDAY 11 JUNE, 9:30-10:50

The working group will discuss examples of how artists, educators and researchers are creating Design Culture(s) within Contemporary Art practice and research. It will consider this in relation to the Cumulus Community, so extending the debate on current issues, practices and research shared live at the Cumulus 2021 conference. To facilitate this, there will be a project presentation on Creative and artistic place-making: creating a museology of Civic Dialogues during a pandemic.
Simon Brown, Project Curator, National Justice Museum, UK
Andrea Hadley-Johnson, Artistic Programme Manager, National Justice Museum, UK
Dr Rhiannon Jones, University of Derby, UK.
This will be followed by an open platform for discussion. We will share ideas or acts of resilience, adaption and invention within Contemporary Art locating examples within a globalised frame of reference. The working group invites participation from individuals whose practice and/or research challenges notions of civic resilience, design cultures, current cultural, social, and economic challenges in art and design.

Digital Culture

FRIDAY 11 JUNE, 9:30-10:50

P-R-E is for “Practitioners meeting Researchers meeting Educators”. P-R-E is a collaborative series set by Cumulus Association and IxDA, Interaction Design Association.

Onboarding Together Alone – Remote transitions from School to Professional Life.
The global pandemic situation has impacted many aspects of design education and of the design practices. In multiple organisations, teams were obliged to go fully remote. Thanks to the wide use of digital tools, it even turns now into a new set of behaviours and habits, inside and outside the digital economy.
For many years, design education institutions have established connections with business and industry through internships and apprenticeship, as a way for young designers to gain experience in their creative skills. The full immersion in a workplace environment was an opportunity to improve soft skills required for young professionals : leadership, team spirit and collaboration, social rules, industry standards…
It’s now 2021, and we would like to discuss the actual meaning and relevance of this very experience of remote internships, both as a first touchpoint with the job market and as a valuable learning experience.
Perspectives will be shared by speakers before interactions with attendees.
Dr. Mona Ismail, professor, Scientific College of Design, Muscat, Oman
Sultan Shalakti, interaction designer, Amman, Jordan Lefteris
Lefteris Heretakis, lecturer, IE University, Madrid, Spain
Eija Salmi, Cumulus Association, Helsinki, Finland
Frederic Degouzon, Ecole de Design, Nantes, France
Alok b. Nandi, IxDA and Architempo + Spread Design, Brussels

Fashion & Textile 

FRIDAY 11 JUNE, 11:10-12:50

Theme: Towards Sustainable Fashion and Textiles
The aim of the Fashion & Textile Working Group meeting at Cumulus Roma 2021 is to provide the Working Group members with an opportunity to present and discuss their ongoing projects with international peers. The presentations include:
1. Fashion Societal, Economic & Environmental Design-led Sustainability (Fashion SEEDS) (45–60 minutes). Speakers: Piret Puppart (Estonian Academy of Art, Estonia); and Ulla Ræbild (Design School Kolding, Denmark). FashionSEEDS is a 3-year Strategic EU-funded Partnership (Sept. 2018–Nov. 2021) coordinated by UAL – London College of Fashion, in collaboration with Politecnico di Milano, Estonian Academy of Arts, and Design School Kolding. The project is developed by the network of university tutors and researchers using radical design-led approaches to envisage a fashion education system that nurtures graduates with the skills, capabilities, and knowledge of fashion design for sustainability. The outcome is presented on the FashionSEEDS platform, an open-source learning environment to be launched in June 2021. The teaching and learning materials are based on the four pillars of sustainability – environmental, economic, social, and cultural – and developed to meet tutors’ different needs in practice and theory to strengthen professional skills and critical thinking.
2. Sustaining Livelihoods for Textile Artisans (45–60 minutes). Speaker: Dr. Vandana Bhandari, Professor, National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, India. National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi has engaged with over 750 artisans across 25 craft communities while conducting design workshops in rural and urban areas over the last 4 years. Over 100 faculty across NIFT centres and designers have worked on the USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts and Crafts for Development) project. This workshop will present 3-4 textile crafts and discuss the key strategies for impact and growth employed in this national project. The aim for meaningful impact encompasses three broad areas – Craft excellence, Collaboration and Continuity. The intent is to foster a co-creation engagement between designers and artisans while staying true to the craft. At large, the project aims to empower the craft and artisans to adapt to evolving markets for sustainable livelihoods.

Leadership and Strategy

THURSDAY 10 JUNE, 11:10-12:50

Collecting and Connecting the Dots. Small changes, big impacts.
How can we use the potentials of Cumulus as a network of globally connected university leaders to inform our institutional strategies, but also to contribute to a general change in design education on a larger scale? Our working group is informed through contributions from colleagues from more than 20 countries to exchange knowledge and best practices. With our learning and rhyzomatic structure we are about to build, being in flux, respecting and appreciating the different positions, expertise and perspectives on the world. Time to wrap up previous discussions around major transformations in design education and to explore missing perspectives and connect the dots to a bigger picture. The moment is now and we reflect on several topics:
– Encouraging and sharing emerging practices: how can we create a repository of the unconventional?
– Global collaborations, diverse perspectives: how can we create and promote meaningful interactions between faculty, students and external stakeholders?
In addition to our speakers each giving short and thought-provoking inputs from diverse contexts, all participants are invited to share cases from their universities to discuss how new aspects and the strategic orientation emerged and flourished.
Chairs: Philipp Heidkamp (KISD, Germany) and Teresa Franqueira (UA, Portugal),
Core team: Nur Abu Bakar (Lasalle, Singapore), Lolita Dutta (UID, India), Albert Fuster (ELISAVA, Spain), and Lene Tanggaard (Kolding, Denmark)
Our working group was growing constantly and had several online sessions in the last year. For more information about our working group, please visit here.


WEDNESDAY 9 JUNE, 11:10-12:50

Join us for a design experimentation workshop that benefits the local communities. Working with different industry and institutional partners towards a feasible system to minimise food waste and create circular economy possibilities. The participants will bring in their cultural and regional food waste scenarios in order to create tangible outcomes that ensure the effective use of food resources. The workshop aims to explore food circular economy stories: 1. Building a (trans) inter-multi -disciplinary international team of design researchers and practitioners | 2. Initiate dialogue regarding funding and identify stakeholders | 3. Create a design methodology process based on experimentation and research | 4. Build the framework for a larger research project with impact | 5. Combine our cultural context and design knowledge to achieve food ecosystem strategies. Let’s build relationships between the different stakeholders for a better economy and a better ‘farm to fork’. Looking forward to your contribution!!!
The workshop structure:
1. Food systems and circular economy | i. Components of the environment | ii. mapping through Blobs and Words   2. Favourite food circular economy story | i. exploring visual storytelling forms   
3. Opportunities available of circular economy in your local community and who are your stakeholders i. storytelling the opportunity ideas | ii. extended stakeholder mapping
Roadmap:  1. 1 in many workshop series that will continue after the conference / 2 team building workshops.   2. Select core team to start working on the project (merge into point 1?)   3. Extending workshops to 30 mins webinars from different team members (global outreach engagement with stakeholders)   4. Create project document outlining research prototyping roadmaps across continents   5. Get initial funders on board 6 -5 months from now

Service Design

FRIDAY 11 JUNE, 9:30-10:50

Cumulus Rome, we invite you to participate in discussing service design and the challenges it has been facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Workshops play a vital part in service design. However, the health restrictions have posed new challenges to facilitators who are transforming their practices to online platforms. We wish to reflect on and share good experiences and practices in the service design field. We invite you to present new insights carrying out online workshops in these challenging times. If you are interested in joining this working group, we kindly ask you to send us a short description of your presentation in 150-200 words. We will select 3-4 cases to be discussed in the working group. Please note that each presentation may be a maximum of 15 minutes, followed by a short discussion. Also, be aware that these presentations will not be included in the conference proceedings. Feel free to use any creative form of visual aids, for example, video, PPT, podcast, posters, others. The event will be an informal gathering to be held virtually. We are looking forward to hearing your interesting presentations and having a fruitful conversation with you in the Service Design Working Group in Cumulus Rome!

Women in Design

THURSDAY 10 JUNE, 9:30-10:50

“Women in Design” will be a platform for exchange, inspiration and mentorship. Sharing experiences and strategies and methods for coping will contribute to building a global network of women to support and promote each other.
Accessing and sharing knowledge on the challenges many women face can contribute to building assertiveness and empowering women in design, across cultures, to have the courage to take on visible, important positions within their society.
In this iteration of the working group we will use social stories and some knowledge gathered in previous working groups to focus on the mentor role – as a system; in institutions, design practice and internationally.


WEDNESDAY 9 JUNE, 14:30-15:50
FRIDAY 11 JUNE, 11:10-12:50

With more than twenty years’ history, xFiles for Internationalisation is the oldest working group of the Cumulus association. It is a forum for international networking, a vehicle for the cultivation of existing collaborations and the discovery of new opportunities, as well as a platform for global engagement and interaction. We see xFiles as a toolset for the internationalisation of higher education institutions of Art, Design and Media.
xFiles working group include all types of university personnel, like faculty members, administrative staff, deans, directors, researchers and other professional profiles interested in finding ways of collaboration within the international context. Since 1998 xFiles has been present at every Spring conference, offering a place where new and old cumulusians can meet their colleagues, find inspirations, share best practices, discuss relevant topics, and start fruitful academic relationships.