Opening Production and Commons: 90-percent PhD seminar

FORMATS-COMMONS-MAKING-BIGWelcome to the 90-percent seminar of interaction design PhD student Anna Seravalli whose work deals with the opening of (tangible) production and commons. The seminar takes place in the Medea studio on February 27.

Date and time: February 27, 10-12
Location: Medea, Ö. Varvsgatan 11 A.
Opponent: Liam J. Bannon, Trento RISE; Professor (Emeritus), UL; Hon. Professor, Aarhus University


Provisional thesis title:

In the opening of production, attempts at composing formats for commons making

This thesis accounts for a designerly and compositional inquiry in social innovation.

Design is understood as a reflective conversation with the materials of a situation (Schön 1983), which means to consider design as a located emergent practice. This implies that design is discussed both in terms of outcomes (what it generates), as well as, of process (how it generates). Design is also being considered as a form inquiry (Schön 1983) where action is carried out in order to see what it leads to.

Compositionism represents a particular way of performing critique (Latour 2010), which entails, rather than imaging or proposing alternative futures, to engage in their construction. Thus, Compositionism entails a long-term engagement with human and nonhumans in a collective effort where the designer/researcher is just one of the participants. Compositionism allows also to articulate how and why certain alternative futures get legitimacy and acknowledgment, while others do not.

Social innovation is understood as a matter of open, collaborative and sharing processes that, by bringing together actors with diverse interests, and by redefining the relationships that bind them together (Murray et al. 2010), may lead to the emergence of new solutions, services, products and policies (Phills et al. 2008) that can empower more social and environmentally sustainable ways of living (Jegou and Manzini 2003, Meroni 2007, Jegou and Manzini 2008). Particularly, the focus of this inquiry is on the opening of production, looking at how openness, collaboration and sharing are affecting processes of value creation where both goods and services may be generated. The practices, which are opening production, and the expectations around them are composing a number of diverse futures. These possible (alternative) futures are moving towards very different directions and entailing a number of issues and challenges. This inquiry is an attempt at understanding a little bit more about how these futures come in to be and what they do entail, by formulating, on the basis of some designerly experimentations, a number of formats in relation to open, collaborative and shared-based production processes, where formats are understood as possible descriptive propositions grounded in practice, presenting some distinctive traits, but with some elasticity that allows to adapt and rework them in relation to context and change.

This work attempts at providing formats in relation to two themes:

  • outcome: formats in co-production (articulating processes of open, collaborative and shared-based production and their outcomes). Here the focus is on making sense of what emerged from the designerly experimentations, in terms of: the nature of the organizational formats, how they were initiated, set up, continued, and left, in which terms they got (or not) to travel as possible alternative futures and what kind of role did (the) design(er) play in them.
  • process: a format in design for social innovation (articulating how design can be at play in social innovation and in processes of social change). Such a format entails long-term commitment, a collective effort, a multiplicity of agendas, the centrality of making. In a nutshell, it articulates what it takes to move from potentiality to actuality when it comes to co-production processes.

A copy of the dissertation manuscript can be given upon request to