Michael Kaethler

Michael is an Osmos expert bringing the network theoretical and methodological skills to address complex and systemic problems often rooted at an epistemological (knowledge) or ontological (being) level.

Michael’s wistful curiosity has given him a rich and diverse institutional and lived education. Initially, Michael was an expert in Slavonic and Eastern European Studies which led him to live and work in multiple countries of the former Soviet Union.  This was followed by a shift towards human-rights research in conflict and post-conflict countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia etc… where he worked for the United Nations and authored a number critical reports and a book on the complex intersection of rights/ relief/ humanitarian crisis.  Later, Michael decided to re-educate, this time with a Master’s in Urbanism and Spatial Planning at KU Leuven (BE) with a focus on social imaginaries and their role in developing space, culture and conviviality.  He followed this up with a PhD and a Post-Doc at KU Leuven that investigated the tensions and possibilities of novel forms of knowledge production in creative media such as art, design and curating.  Michael remains a research affiliate at KU Leuven and is a Docent in Design at the University of San Marino where he teaches Design Anthropology. 


Michael has a natural capacity to bridge social-anthropology, philosophy, design theory, politics and contemporary culture, giving him a vital role within multidisciplinary and multi-cultural projects. This makes him an important member of teams exploring fundamental ways for design to release tension and reveal opportunities. He is currently developing new models around sensorial forms of knowledge and methods for uprooting path-dependencies in thinking.  He has published widely across both scientific and practice-oriented literature. His most recent publications include the books Social Matter, Social Design with Jan Boelen (2020) and The Auto-Ethnographic Turn in Design with Louise Schouwenberg (2021); he is currently writing a book on radical methods for design ethnography.

  • PhD in Architecture – KU Leuven (BE)
  • Eng in Human Settlements – KU Leuven (BE)
  • MA Slovonic Studies – University of Glasgow (UK)
Professional experience

Docente in Design – UNIRSM (SM)

Lecturer – Wilem de Kooning Academy (NL)

Lecturer – SciencesPo (FR)

Lecturer/ Masters Thesis Supervisor – Design Academy Eindhoven (NL)

Post-Doc researcher – Department of Architecture, KU Leuven (BE)

Researcher – WFP, United Nations (multiple countries)


Language skills

English (native)

Italian (fluent)

French (proficient speaking & writing)

Russian (proficient speaking)

Michael's insights

Rue Haute

/// Project
Redevelopment of a social 400 unit housing complex in a dense inner-city neighbourhood fit for the 21st century.

Everyone else

Adrian Hill

Adrian is a founding partner of the Osmos Network responsible for general operations with expertise in production in cities and ecological systems.


Eric Haas

Eric is a co-founder of the Osmos Network, focused on the organisation’s business development.


Hanne Van Reusel

Hanne is an Osmos Network partner bringing the team expertise on the commons, participative processes and the development of public space.


Julia Rocha

Julia is an Osmos collaborator with expertise in visual communications and public space.


Laurens Van der Cruyssen

Laurens is an Osmos Network partner bringing the network expertise in psychology, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and human-centred design.


Liana Simmons

Liana is an Osmos expert bringing the network a strong foundation in collaboration and cooperation to empower local and regional organisations and communities.


Marco Kooistra

Marco is a founding partner of the Osmos Network responsible for the organisation’s financial management. He brings the network extensive expertise in finance, fiscal strategy, business management and accounting.


Nienke Schachtschabel

Nienke is an Osmos expert based Amsterdam (NL). She brings the network extensive experience in visual communication, design research and in agro-ecology.


Stephan Kampelmann

Stephan is a co-founder and expert of the Osmos Network bringing the network practical experience and theoretical knowledge on local economics, resource management and governance within bio-based production chains.


Toha De Brant

Toha is an Osmos expert bringing the network expertise in anthropology and years of practical experience with community building, advocacy and grass-roots development. As a passionate photographer, she also supports the team with documentation of events.

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