Fabrizio Ceschin



Fabrizio is a Lecturer in Design for Sustainability within the School of Engineering and Design, Brunel University London. He joined Brunel in September 2012, and was formerly at Politecnico di Milano (Italy), where he obtained his PhD. His research focuses on Design for Sustainability, and in particular on the elaboration of strategies, methods, and tools to support design processes towards the development of low environmental impact and high socio-ethical quality products, services and systems. He believes that sustainability can only be tackles by innovating at a system level, changing not only products, services and production processes but also and especially patterns of consumption, lifestyles, institutions and the way in which needs are satisfied. For this reason his principal focus is on exploring the role of design in product-service systems innovation (business models/value propositions that can potentially delink profit from material and energy use), and social innovation (bottom-up initiatives where groups of people organise themselves to directly solve daily life problems). Building upon transition studies, in his Ph.D. research he investigated how the introduction and scaling-up of sustainable radical innovations take place, and explored the role that strategic design can play in triggering and orienting those societal transformations.

Within this framework he undertook several national and international research projects, funded by the European Commission, national institutions, small and medium enterprises, and multinational enterprises.

Fabrizio has lectured at Politecnico di Milano (Italy), Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca (Italy), Università degli Studi di Torino (Italy), Istituto Europeo di Design (Italy), Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti of Milan (Italy), Tsinghua University (China), King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang of Bangkok (Thailand), Indian Institute of Technology of Delhi (India), Chiba University (Japan).

Brief biography

Fabrizio has a BSc and a MSc equivalent degrees in Industrial Design awarded by Politecnico di Milano in Italy. After graduation, in 2006, he joined the “Design and Innovation for Sustainability” research unit (Design department of Politecnico di Milano) as research assistant. In 2009 he started his doctoral research in Design at Politecnico di Milano, and in 2012 he obtained his Ph.D. degree. He was research fellow at Politecnico di Milano before joining Brunel University London in September 2012.



  • Curator (together with Carlo Vezzoli, Mary Jacob and Deepta Satesh) of “A world of sustainable ideas”, exhibition of the best projects submitted for the LeNS Students Award. Bangalore, India, 29 September – 1 October 2010.
  • Curator (together with prof. Carlo Vezzoli) of the exhibition “Un mondo di idee sostenibili” [a world of sustainable ideas], within “Fa’ la cosa giusta”, fair on critic consumption and alternative ways of living. Milan, Italy, 13-16 April 2007.

Peer esteem

  • 2012-present: Guest editor (together with Carlo Vezzoli, Jan C. Diehl and Cindy Kohtala) for the Special Issue of the Journal of Cleaner Production (JCLP) on “Why have sustainable Product-Service Systems not been widely implemented? Meeting new design challenges to achieve societal sustainability”.
  • 2010-present: Peer reviewer for the Journal of Cleaner Production (JCLP).
  • 2010: Invited speaker at the VII national seminar “Create value through sustainable product-service”, Parco Scientifico Tecnologico Kilometro Rosso, Bergamo, Italy, 12 November 2010.
  • 2010: Member of the organizing committee for the international conference “Sustainability in design: now! Challenges and opportunities for design research, education and practice in the XXI century”, Bangalore, India, 29 September - 1 October 2010.
  • 2007: Member of the organizing committee for the international workshop “Framework for Action for Sustainable Consumption and Production in the fields of Food, Mobility and Energy/Housing”, Milan, Italy, 29-30 November 2007.

Design awards

Special mention in the International Award “Well-Tech, Technology for Wellness 2011” for the design of the solar, electric and human powered vehicle MULO. WT Award is an international reward for technological innovation on the issues of sustainability, accessibility and quality of life.

Extra-curricular activities

Promoter of the “Levante project”, non-competitive race from Rome to Maranello dedicated to innovative low environmental impact vehicles, 5-9 September 2006.

Research area(s)

  • design for sustainability
  • product life cycle design
  • product-service system design
  • service design
  • social innovation
  • co-design and participatory approaches


Research interests

Fabrizio is interested in Design for Sustainability, and in particular about developing approaches, methods and tools to enable companies/public institutions/NGOs/communities to tackle sustainability challenges at different levels: products, services and product-service systems. He mainly focuses on:

Product-Service Systems (PSS) innovation: PSSs are specific types of value proposition that shift the business focus from selling products (e.g. washing machines and powder, boilers and methane, etc.) to offering a combination of products and services jointly capable to achieve a final user satisfaction (e.g. having clean clothes, thermal comfort, etc.). If properly conceived they can delink resources consumption from its traditional connection with profit. The focus is on the development of theory, methods, tools to design sustainable PSSs (in terms of business models and service propositions).

Product Life Cycle Design: the focus is on the development of strategies, methods and tools to integrate product environmental requirements into design processes, to support the conception and development of low environmental impact products.

Social innovation: social innovations are bottom-up initiatives where groups of ordinary people, communities, grass roots technicians and entrepreneurs, local institutions and civic society organizations organise themselves to directly solve daily life problems (examples are initiatives such as community-supported agriculture, community gardens, co-housing, time banks, neighbourhood care solutions, etc.). They present interesting potentialities in generating and diffusing new and more sustainable ways of living. The focus here is on exploring the role of design in supporting, simplifying and replicating existing initiatives.

Co-design and participatory approaches: Sustainability needs the direct involvement of a broad variety of social actors (companies, public institutions, NGOs, communities, etc.). The interest is therefore on the role of design in facilitating the strategic conversation between actors (ensuring mutual understanding; managing the diversity of their expectations as well as their negotiation and alignment, illustrating complex information, activating co-design processes etc.).

System innovation for sustainability: Transition towards sustainability requires radical innovations in the way we produce and consume (such as sustainable PSSs or social innovations), but their introduction and diffusion usually encounter the opposition of existing habits, organizational structures and regulative frameworks. An important challenge is therefore not only to conceive sustainable innovations, but also to understand the contextual conditions in which they are introduced and explore the most suitable strategies and development pathways to embed these concepts in society. This raises important questions on the role of design in addressing this challenge: what is the potential contribution that a strategic design approach can make in stimulating, supporting and hastening the process of transitioning to sustainable radical innovations? How can a designer create openings for radical innovations? What are the design approaches and capabilities required? Building upon transition studies, Fabrizio in his doctoral research has explored the contribution of design in dealing with system change. A particular emphasis is given to the design and implementation of sequences of socio-technical experiments, partially protected spaces (conceived as Labs, Windows and Agents of Change) where broad networks of actors incubate, test, develop and bring the innovation to maturity without the direct pressure coming from mainstream market selection environment.


Lecturer in Sustainable Design and Environmentally Sensitive Design, specialising in design for sustainability, product life cycle design, product-service system design, service design and social innovation.

Research project(s) and grant(s)

Tango, Towards A New interGenerational Openness (2011-2012, funded by the European Commission under the Culture Programme). The project, coordinated by Aalto University, explores the issue of social inclusion of the elderly and intergenerational dialogue and, through a sustainable students’ project travelling exhibition (to take place in 2013 in Helsinki, Nantes and Milan), proposes to the local communities and stakeholders socially and environmentally promising design concepts, fostering dialogue and setting the stage for future local implementation.

Green Move (2011-2012, funded by Regione Lombardia). The project involves 8 departments of Politecnico di Milano. It aims at designing and implementing a vehicle-sharing system in Milan, with different categories of electric vehicles (bikes, scooter and cars). In particular the core idea is to develop a peer-to-peer vehicle sharing system (single users, private companies, associations, etc, can share their electric car or fleet). In this respect new business models and related innovative services (for different target actors), and the technological platform required to implement the system will be designed and developed. Moreover it is expected to carry out (in 2013) a socio-technical experiment with a limited number of vehicles and docking stations in a specific area of Milan.

LeNS, The Learning Network on Sustainability (2007-2010, funded by the European Commission under the Asia Link Programme).The aim of this research, coordinated by Politecnico di Milano, was to develop and diffuse Product-Service System design for sustainability in design schools with a transcultural perspective. Its ambition was to promote a new generation of designers (and design educators) capable to effectively contribute to a transition towards a sustainable society. The main output of the project is the so called Open Learning E-Package (OLEP), an open web platform that allows a decentralised and collaborative production and fruition of knowledge. It can be described as a modular e-package of teaching materials (slide shows, texts, audio, video, etc.) and tools for designers, that design researchers/educators (as well as students, designers, entrepreneurs and interested persons/institutions) worldwide will be able to download (free of charge), modify, remix and reuse.

VDS, Vehicle Design Summit (2008-2009, funded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a pool of companies). The project, coordinated by the MIT of Boston, aimed to design and prototype an “open source” low environmental impact vehicle as well as to develop innovative and sustainable business models (and related mobility services). In this framework Politecnico di Milano was responsible for the design of sustainable business models and the design of innovative mobility services.

SCORE!, Sustainable Consumption Research Exchange! (2006-2008, funded by European Commission under FP6). The Network project SCORE!, coordinated by TNO, acted as one of the EU`s central support structures for the UN`s 10 Year Framework of Programs for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP). The aim was to: (I) analyse, in a series of workshops and conferences, the state of the art in SCP research, and promote cases of (radical) sustainable consumption for mobility, agro-food and energy use; (II) consolidating a strong practitioner network and build a structure that can support exchanges worldwide; and (III) develop insights on how to make SCP relevant for policy and business.

Less waste, other ways of doing! Scenarios and services to prevent waste production in the food and paper chains in the city of Brescia (2006, funded by Municipality of Brescia and Province of Brescia). The research project aimed at defining promising scenarios to prevent waste production in the food and paper chains. The project led to the development of a set of solutions potentially capable to prevent and valorise waste. On a system level it was hypothesized a redefinition of the interactions between the different socio-economic stakeholders (supermarkets, fruit and vegetable markets, canteens, municipality, ASM Brescia, etc.), in order to facilitate the reuse of the material flows coming out from each actor (in an industrial symbiosis perspective). Moreover a set of services to prevent and reduce the production of waste was designed. Examples of these services are: the self-production laboratory within the vegetables market, the solidarity purchasing groups network, the promotion of the use of composter and water purifiers, cooking courses to learn how to reuse food remnants, etc.

Research projects on Product-Service System innovation funded by companies. Involvement in projects aimed at designing new Product-Service System concepts, for KONE (2009-2010, and Tetra Pak (2010-2011).

Research projects on product ecodesign funded by companies. Involvement in projects aimed at integrating environmental requirements into companies design processes and developing tools to enable them to design low environmental impact products: for Artemide (2008-2010), KONE (2008) and General Beverage (2006-2008).

Cape Town Sustainable Mobility (2009-present). The research project (involving Politecnico di Milano, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and some local companies and NGOs) aims to design and implement a sustainable Product-Service System to provide mobility services to elderly and disabled people in the suburban areas of Cape Town. In particular the system is expected to offer disabled and elderly people increased mobility services from their homes to the nearest public transport stops, or to local schools, hospitals etc. Technically, the mobility system is designed around a solar, electric and human powered light vehicle. This mobility system is especially conceived to create benefits in suburbs such as those in Cape Town, which are often characterized by substantial mobility problems due to a lack of high quality public transport services. The project, currently running, led to prototype the vehicle and implement two socio-technical experiments aimed at testing and improving the Product-Service System. The project is used to investigate the role of design in triggering and supporting the adoption of sustainable Product-Service Systems.



Fabrizio is module teaching contributor for Sustainable Design (module in MSc in Integrated Product Design), and Environmentally Sensitive Design (third year undergraduate module).

Selected Publications

Journal articles

Ceschin, F. , Rakowski, R.  and de Vere, I.   (2017)   'The Influence Of Work Placement On The Academic Achievement Of Undergraduate Design Students'. Design Journal, 20 (2).  pp. 259 - 278. doi: 10.1080/14606925.2016.1220146 Download publication 

Emili, S. , Ceschin, F.  and Harrison, D.   (2016)   'Product-Service System applied to Distributed Renewable Energy. A classification system, 15 archetypal models and a strategic design tool'. Energy for Sustainable Development: the journal of the international energy initiative, 32 pp. 71 - 98. doi: 10.1016/j.esd.2016.03.004 Download publication 

Ceschin, F.  and Gaziulusoy, IA.   (2016)   'Evolution of Design for Sustainability: From Product Design to Design for System Innovations and Transitions.'. Design Studies. doi: 10.1016/j.destud.2016.09.002 Download publication 

dos Santos, A. , Ceschin, F. , Barreto, S.  and Vezzoli, C.   (2016)   'A design framework for enabling sustainability in the clothing sector'. Latin American Journal of Management for Sustainable Development, 3 (1).  pp. 47 - 65. doi: 10.1504/LAJMSD.2016.078615 Download publication 

Tsimiklis, P. , Ceschin, F. , Green, S. , Qin, SF. , et al.   (2015)   'A Consumer-Centric Open Innovation Framework for Food and Packaging Manufacturing'. International Journal of Knowledge and Systems Science, 6 (3).  pp. 52 - 69. doi: 10.4018/ijkss.2015070104 Download publication 

Vezzoli, C. , Ceschin, F.  and Diehl, JC.   (2015)   'Sustainable Product-Service System Design applied to Distributed Renewable Energy fostering the goal of sustainable energy for all'. Journal of Cleaner Production, 97 pp. 134 - 136. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.02.069 Download publication 

Vezzoli, C. , Ceschin, F. , Diehl, JC.  and Kohtala, C.   (2015)   'New design challenges to widely implement 'Sustainable Product-Service Systems''. Journal of Cleaner Production, 97 pp. 1 - 12. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.02.061 Download publication 

Ceschin, F.   (2014)   'How the design of socio-technical experiments can enable radical changes for sustainability'. International Journal of Design, 8 (3).  pp. 1 - 21. Download publication 

Zhang, J. , Liu, X. , Vezzoli, C.  and Ceschin, F.   (2014)   'LeNS China: A Chinese Learning Network on Sustainability for the development and diffusion of teaching materials and tools on design for sustainability'. Ecological Economy, 10 (2).  pp. 130 - 143. 

Ceschin, F.   (2013)   'Critical factors for implementing and diffusing sustainable product-Service systems: insights from innovation studies and companies' experiences'. Journal of Cleaner Production, 45 pp. 74 - 88. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2012.05.034 Download publication 

Vezzoli, C.  and Ceschin, F.   (2011)   'The learning network on sustainability: An e-mechanism for the development and diffusion of teaching materials and tools on design for sustainability in an open-source and copy left ethos'. International Journal of Management in Education, 5 (1).  pp. 22 - 43. doi: 10.1504/IJMIE.2011.037753 Download publication 

Ceschin, F.  and Vezzoli, C.   (2010)   'The role of public policy in stimulating radical environmental impact reduction in the automotive sector: The need to focus on product-service system innovation'. International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, 10 (2-3).  pp. 321 - 341. doi: 10.1504/IJATM.2010.032631 Download publication 

Ceschin, F.  and Vezzoli, C.   (2008)   'Universities: key drivers of sustainability'. DIID Disegno Industriale, 30 pp. 90 - 96. 

Vezzoli, C.  and Ceschin, F.   (2008)   'Modelli di business alternativi per l’industria automobilistica'. Trasporti & Cultura, 21 


Ceschin, F.   (2014) Sustainable Product-Service Systems: Between Strategic Design and Transition Studies.  Springer International Publishing Download publication 

Vezzoli, C. , Ceschin, F.  and Cortesi, S.   (2009) Metodi e Strumenti per il LifeCycleDesign. Come progettare prodotti a basso impatto ambientale. Rimini (Italy):  Maggioli Editore 

Book chapters

Ceschin, F.  (2015)   'The role of socio-technical experiments in introducing sustainable Product-Service System innovations', in Agarwal, R. , Selen, W. , Roos, G.  and Green, R. (eds.) The Handbook of Service Innovation.  Springer London pp. 373 - 401. Download publication 

Ceschin, F. , Vezzoli, C.  and Zingale, S.  (2014)   'An aesthetic for sustainable interactions in Product-Service Systems?', in Vezzoli, C. , Kohtala, C. , Srinivasan, A. , Xin, L. , et al. (eds.) Product-Service System Design for Sustainability.  Greenleaf Publishing Download publication 

Ceschin, F.  (2014)   'The societal embedding of sustainable Product-Service Systems: Looking for synergies between strategic design and transition studies', in Vezzoli, C. , Kohtala, C. , Srinivasan, A. , Liu, X. , et al. (eds.) Product-Service System design for sustainability.  Greenleaf Publishing Download publication 

Manzini, E. , Vezzoli, C. , Ceschin, F.  and Cantú, D.  (2010)   'Africa, Ideas for a sustainable future. Leapfrog Strategies: Design for social and system innovation for sustainability in South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Ghana.', in Dell’Acqua Bellavitis, A. , Collina, L. , Imperadori, M.  and Gandelli, A. (eds.) The international gateway. Projects and partnerships..  Milano (Italy) Edizioni Olivares 

Vezzoli, C.  and Ceschin, F.  (2009)   'Sustainable scenarios for upstream waste reduction in the food chain', in Hülsen, I.  and Ohnesorge, E. (eds.) Food Science Research and Technology.  New York (USA) Nova Publishers 

Ceschin, F.  (2009)   'L’Università nella generazione e diffusione di soluzioni sostenibili. Il progetto MULO system.', in Vezzoli, C.  and Veneziano, R. (eds.) Pratiche sostenibili. Itinerari del design nella ricerca italiana..  Firenze (Italy) Alinea Edizioni 

Vezzoli, C.  and Ceschin, F.  (2009)   'Il design di sistema per la sostenibilità. Nuovi ambiti operativi e nuovi metodi e strumenti a supporto dei designer.', in Catania, A. (ed.) More E less/Nuovi stili di vita e di consumo.  Palermo (Italy) Dario Flaccovio Editore 

Conference papers

Petrulaityte, A. , Ceschin, F. , Pei, E.  and Harrison, D.   (2017)   'Supporting Sustainable Product-Service System Implementation through Distributed Manufacturing' , The 9th CIRP Industrial Product-Service System Conference: Circular Perspectives on Product/Service-Systems. Denmark. doi: 10.1016/j.procir.2017.03.070 Download publication 

Emili, S. , Ceschin, F.  and Harrison, D.   (2016)   'Visualising Product-Service Systems applied to Distributed Renewable Energy: the Energy System map' , Sustainable Energy for All by Design. Cape Town. 30 - 30 September. [unpublished].  Download publication 

Emili, S. , Ceschin, F.  and Harrison, D.   (2016)   'Supporting SMEs in designing Product-Service systems applied to Distributed Renewable Energy: Design framework and cards' , Sustainable Energy for All by Design. Cape Town. 30 - 30 September. [unpublished].  Download publication 

Vezzoli, C. , Bacchetti, E. , Ceschin, F. , Diehl, JC. , et al.   (2016)   'System Design for Sustainable Energy for All: A new knowledge base and know-how developed within the LeNSes European and African project' , Sustainable Energy for All by Design. Cape Town. 30 - 30 September. [unpublished].  Download publication 

Ceschin, F.  and Gaziulusoy, IA.   (2016)   'Design for Sustainability: An Evolutionary Review' , Design Research Society Conference (DRS2016). Brighton, UK. 30 - 30 June. doi: 10.21606/drs.2016.59 Download publication 

Emili, S. , Ceschin, F.  and Harrison, D.   (2016)   'Supporting SMEs in designing sustainable business models for energy access for the BoP: a strategic design tool' , Design Research Society Conference (DRS2016). Brighton, UK. 30 - 30 June. doi: 10.21606/drs.2016.349 Download publication 

Kiravu, K. , Emili, S. , Magole, L. , Jeffrey, AM. , et al.   (2015)   'Mmokolodi solar PV project – Demonstrating sustainable renewable energy system design and potential for Botswana rural electrification' , International Conference on Clean Energy for Sustainable Growth in Developing Countries 2015. Palapye, Botswana. 16 - 18 September. [unpublished].  

Vezzoli, C. , Ceschin, F. , Osanjo, L. , M'Rithaa, MK. , et al.   (2015)   'An African-European network of design universities fostering the goal of sustainable energy for all' , Kampala International Design Conference (KIDEC 2015). Kampala, Uganda. 21 - 24 July. [unpublished].  Download publication 

Emili, S. , Ceschin, F.  and Harrison, D.   (2015)   'Product-Service Systems applied to Distributed Renewable Energy: A classification system and a strategic design tool' , Kampala International Design Conference (KIDEC 2015). Kampala, Uganda. 21 - 24 July. [unpublished].  

Ceschin, F. , Resta, B. , Vezzoli, C.  and Gaiardelli, P.   (2014)   'Visualising product-service system business models' , 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference. London. 1 - 4 September. Design Management Institute, pp. 2123 - 2152. Download publication 

Ceschin, F.   (2011)   'The societal embedding of sustainable product-service systems: towards an instrumental approach to support strategic designers.' , Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces (DPPI11). Milan. 22 - 25 June. ACM. 

Ceschin, F. , Vezzoli, C.  and Vergragt, P.   (2011)   'Small scale socio-technical experiments as stepping stones for eco-efficient product-service systems diffusion: A new role for strategic design for sustainability.' , 3rd CIRP International Conference on Industrial Product Service Systems. Technische Universität Braunschweig. 5 - 6 May. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 111 - 116. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-19689-8_21 

Vezzoli, C.  and Ceschin, F.   (2010)   'A new ethos for a multipolar design learning community: A mechanism for the development and diffusion of teaching materials on design for sustainability in an open-source and copy left ethos' , International Technology, Education and Development Conference, INTED2010.. Valencia, Spain. 8 - 10 March. International Association of Technology, Education and Development. Download publication 

Ceschin, F.   (2010)   'Critical factors for managing the implementation and diffusion of eco-efficient Product-Service Systems: insights from innovation sciences and companies’ experience' , International conference on Advances in Production Management Systems, APMS 2010. Cernobbio-Como, Italy. 11 - 13 October. Poliscript - Politecnico di Milano. 

Ceschin, F. , Vezzoli, C.  and Zingale, S.   (2010)   'An aesthetic for sustainable interactions in Product-Service Systems?' , Sustainability in design: now! Challenges and opportunities for design research, education and practice in the XXI century. Bangalore, India. 29 - 1 October. Greenleaf Publishing, pp. 1490 - 1501. Download publication 

Ceschin, F.   (2010)   'How to facilitate the implementation and diffusion of sustainable Product-Service Systems? Looking for synergies between strategic design and innovation sciences' , Sustainability in design: now! Challenges and opportunities for design research, education and practice in the XXI century. Bangalore, India. 29 - 1 October. Greenleaf Publishing, pp. 440 - 454. Download publication 

Vezzoli, C. , Ceschin, F.  and M'Rithaa, M.   (2009)   'LeNS_AFRICA. An African learning network on sustainability for the development and diffusion of teaching materials and tools on design for sustainability in an open-source and copy left ethos' , 4th International Conference on Life Cycle Management. Cape Town, South Africa. 6 - 9 September. CARMA. Download publication 

Vezzoli, C.  and Ceschin, F.   (2008)   'Designing sustainable system innovation transitions for low-industrialised contexts. A transition path towards local-based and long lasting mobility solutions in African contexts' , 2nd Conference of the Sustainable Consumption Research Exchange (SCORE!) Network. Brussels, Belgium. 10 - 11 March. Flemish Institute for Technological Research, pp. 123 - 144. Download publication 

Vezzoli, C.  and Ceschin, F.   (2008)   'Product Service Systems in the automotive industry: An alternative business model for a sustainable satisfaction system.' , Sixth International Conference on Manufacturing Research (ICMR08). Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK. 9 - 11 September. Brunel University, pp. 549 - 556. Download publication 

Vezzoli, C. , Ceschin, F.  and Kemp, R.   (2008)   'Designing transition paths for the diffusion of sustainable system innovations. A new potential role for design in transition management?' , Changing the change. Design, visions, proposals and tools. Turin, Italy. 10 - 12 July. Umberto Allemandi. Download publication 

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