Design Things and Design Thinking: Contemporary Participatory Design Challenges

Open Access:

Björgvinsson, E; Ehn, P; Hillgren, P-A. (2012). Design Things and Design Thinking: Contemporary Participatory Design Challenges. In Design Issues 2012, 28:3, pp. 101-116. doi: 10.1162/DESI_a_00165

EXCERPT – In this paper, we argue that a fundamental challenge for designers and the design community is to move from designing “things” (objects) to designing Things (socio-material assemblies). We also argue that this movement involves not only the challenges of engaging stakeholders as designers in the design process, as in “traditional” Participatory Design (i.e., envisioning “use before actual use,” for example, through prototyping), but also the challenges of designing beyond the specific project and toward future stakeholders as designers (i.e., supporting ways to “design after design” in a specific project). We see this movement as one from “projecting” to one of “infrastructuring” design activities. As further reflections on these challenges, we discuss our ongoing “infrastructuring” engagement in Malmö Living Labs as one in which we design “Things” for social innovation. We conclude by returning to design thinking and exploring the further challenges to infrastructuring and to open “design Things”.

© 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Design Issues: Volume 28, Number 3 Summer 2012.