For more than two decades he has been working in the field of design for sustainability. Most recently, his interests have focussed on social innovation, considered as a major driver of sustainable changes, and on what design can do to support it. In this perspective he started and currently coordinates, DESIS: an international network of schools of design and other design-related organisations specifically active in the field of design for social innovation and sustainability (http://www.desis-network.org ).
In addition to his continuous involvement in the design for sustainability arena, he has explored and promoted design potentialities in different fields, such as: Design of Materials, in the 80s; Strategic Design, in the 90s (starting a Master in Strategic Design); Service Design, in the last ten years (starting the specific courses in Service Design).
Presently, he collaborates with the Politecnico di Milano and he is Honorary Guest Professor at the Tongji University, in Shanghai, at the Jiangnan University, in Wuxi, and at the COPPE-UFRJ, in Rio de Janeiro. In 2012 he has been Distinguished Visiting Professor, at Parsons, the New School for Design, in New York.
Throughout his professional life he has taught and carried out research at the Politecnico di Milano where he directed several national and international research projects and where he coordinated the Unit of Research DIS, the Doctorate in Design and, recently, DES: the Centre for Service Design in the Indaco Department).
Parallel to this, he has also been director and vice-president of Domus Academy (in the 90s) and Chair Professor of Design under the Distinguished Scholars Scheme at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (in 2000).
For his work he has received two Compasso d’Oro (Design Prizes), the Premio per l’innovazione (Prize for innovation), the Sir Misha Back Medal for the year 2012 (International prize for design teaching) and several honorary titles: Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts at The New School of New York and at Goldsmiths College, University of London and Honorary Professor at the Glasgow School of Art and, in 2013 at the Aalto University, in Finland and the 2013 Jiangsu Friendship in China.
Recent publications are: Manzini, E., Jegou, F., Sustainable everyday, Edizioni Ambiente, Milano, 2003; Leong B.D., Manzini, E (2006) Design Vision : a Sustainable Way of Living in China, Ningnan Publishing House Ltd., China; E. Manzini, The scenario of the multi-local society, in J. Chapman, N. Gant, Designers, Visionaries plus other stories, Earthscan, London, 2007; E. Manzini, Design research for sustainable social innovation, in Michel R. (edited by), Design Research Now: Essays and Selected Projects, Birkhäuser Basel, 2007; Vezzoli C., Manzini E. 2008. Design for environmental sustainability. Patronised United Nation Decade Education for Sustainable Development. London: Springer (english version of: Design per la sostenibilità ambientale, Zanichelli Editore, Bologna, 2007); Jegou, F., Manzini, E., Collaborative services. Social innovation and design for sustainability, Polidesign. Milano, 2008; Manzini, E., Service Design in the Age of Networks and Sustainability, in: Miettinen, S., Koivisto, M. (edited by), Designing Services with Innovative Methods, University of Arts and Design, Helsinki, 2009; Manzini, E., “Small, Local, Open and Connected: Design Research Topics in the Age of Networks and Sustainability,” in Journal of Design Strategies, Volume 4, No. 1, Spring 2010; Manzini, E. (2011), SLOC, The Emerging Scenario of Small, Local, Open and Connected, in Stephan Harding, ed., Grow Small Think Beautiful (Edinburgh, Floris Books); Manzini, E. “Introduction to Design for Services. A new discipline, in Meroni, A., Sangiorgi, D. (2011), Design for Services. Grower, London. UK; Manzini E., Rizzo F. (2011), Small Projects/Large Changes. Partecipatory Design as an Open Partecipated Process, CoDesign, Vol. 7 (2011), No 3-4, 199-215; Manzini, E. (2012), Error-Friendliness: How to Design Resilient Socio-Technical Systems, in: Goofbun, J. (ed), Scarcity. Architetcture in and Age of Depleting resources, Architectural design. 04/2012; Manzini,E. (2013), Resilient Systems and Sustainable Qualities, Current, Design research Journal, Issue 04, Spring 2013; Manzini, E. (2013), People-As-Assets, Fields, An interdisciplinary Design Journal, Issue 01, Spring 2013; Manzini, E., Tassinari, V, (2013), Sustainable qualities: powerful drivers of social change, in Crocker. R. Lehmann, S. (edited by), Motivating Change, Earthscan, London; Manzini, E, Meroni, A (2013), Design for Territorial Ecology and a New Relationship between City and Countryside: The Experience of the Feeding Milano Project, in Walker, S. and Giard, J, (edited by), The Handbook for Design for Sustainability, Bloomsbury, London.