Marc Rettig & Hannah du Plessis

Design the future? Just WHO do you think you are?

Organizations and the designers they employ are increasingly engaged with the Great Challenges of our day and the Great Shift of our times. As we translate ideas like “social innovation,” “design for transition,” and “systemic shifts” into practice, we bump head-on into the true complexity of such work. When we encounter a web of crossed opinions and agendas, our training can seem inadequate. When we see dysfunctional patterns woven into organizational culture, our methods can seem impotent. When we face the resistance of booming personalities accustomed to dominant power, we can feel very small indeed.

How do we work? Who do we need to become in order to do such work?

Using stories from years of study, teaching, and consulting in the trenches of social complexity, Marc Rettig and Hannah du Plessis will illustrate approaches to work that engage the realities of systemic complexity and the deeply personal aspects of change. Through their experience they have found approaches and methods which shine a light on the future practice of design in human complexity, and the personal skills and qualities necessary to do such work.


Marc Rettig is principal of Fit Associates, a Pittsburgh-based consultancy that helps change-leading people and organizations develop capacity to create in and with social complexity. Fit has done this work with large corporations, local food systems, through business futures explorations, and in the trenches of organizational politics and processes.

As a founding faculty member of the groundbreaking MFA in Design for Social Innovation program at The School of Visual Arts in New York, Marc co-teaches the “Fundamentals” course. Together with teaching at CMU, this provides a proving ground for his work in progress – a practical synthesis of design, facilitation, management, and systems approaches.

Marc previously taught at CMU Graduate School of Design when he was the 2003 Nierenberg Chair of Design, and has also taught as an adjunct at the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago. He is one of the “Rosenfeld Experts,” and serves on the advisory board of Rosenfeld Media.

HannahduPlessis150Hannah du Plessis is principal at Fit Associates, a firm focused on equipping communities to create better futures for themselves. Hannah’s belief in human potential, tempered by the raw reality of growing up in violent, segregated South Africa, fuels her desire to further the field of social innovation.

As a student, Hannah led the amalgamation of two schools during the transition from apartheid. Her career as interior architect spans across a decade and three continents, and includes 18 built projects. She has worked for various agencies and was founding partner of a design firm. Her love for and continuous engagement in the creative process has taken her drawings into publications and art galleries and herself onto stage as presenter, actor, improviser and dancer.

Hannah has taught internationally in the field of design and innovation. She holds a Masters in Design Methodology from IIT, a degree in interior design from the University of Pretoria and a diploma in fine arts.

Marc & Hannah’s lecture took place on Monday, October 19, 2015 at 5:00 pm in Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall, Breed Hall.

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