Co-creation and the new landscape...
This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in CoDesign, Taylor & Francis, March 2008. CoDesign is available online at http://journalsonline.tandf.co.uk 1/16 Co-creation and the new landscapes of design Elizabeth B.-N. Sanders (*) & Pieter Jan Stappers (**) (*) MakeTools, LLC, 183 Oakland Park Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43214 USA (Liz@MakeTools.com) (**) ID-StudioLab, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Landbergstraat 15, 2628CE, Delft, The Netherlands (p.j.stappers@TUDelft.nl) Abstract Designers have been moving increasingly closer to the future users of what they design and the next new thing in the changing landscape of design research has become co-designing with your users. But co-designing is actually not new at all, having taken distinctly different paths in the US and in Europe. The evolution in design research from a user-centered approach to co-designing is changing the roles of the designer, the researcher and the person formerly known as the ���user���. The implications of this shift for the education of designers and researchers are enormous. The evolution in design research from a user-centered approach to co-designing is changing the landscape of design practice as well, creating new domains of collective creativity. It is hoped that this evolution will support a transformation toward more sustainable ways of living in the future. Keywords: participatory design, design research, co-design, co-creation, collective creativity, user-centered design 1. Introduction Over the past six decades, designers have been moving increasingly closer to the future users of what they design. Especially in areas where technologies mature, and the next new feature is no longer of value, manufacturing companies have been increasingly open to approaches that define the product based on what people need. The first advances, well consolidated now in industrial practice and education, practiced user-centered design from an ���expert perspective���, in which trained researchers observe and/or interview largely passive users, whose contribution is to perform instructed tasks and/or to give their opinions about product concepts that were generated by others. The user-centered design approach (i.e., ���user as subject���) has been primarily a US- driven phenomenon. Increasingly, since the 70s, people have been given more influence and room for initiative in roles where they provide expertise, and participate in the informing, ideating, and conceptualizing activities in the early design phases. The participatory approach (i.e.,���user as partner���) has been led by Northern Europeans. The two approaches are now beginning to influence one another. Figure 1 gives an overview of the current state of the human- centered design (research) landscape (discussed in more depth in Sanders, 2006a).
This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in CoDesign, Taylor & Francis, March 2008. CoDesign is available online at http://journalsonline.tandf.co.uk 2/16 Figure 1. The current landscape of human-centered design research as practiced in the design and development of products and services. Within this landscape, in the area of participatory design, the notions of co-creation and co-design have been growing. The terms co-design and co-creation are today often confused and/or treated synonymously with one another. Opinions about who should be involved in these collective acts of creativity, when, and in what role vary widely. Online dictionaries do not yet have entries for co-creation, cocreation, codesign or co-design. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, has only preliminary entries on co-creation and co-design. The authors take co-creation to refer to any act of collective creativity, i.e., creativity that is shared by two or more people. Co-creation is a very broad term with applications ranging from the physical to the metaphysical and from the material to the spiritual, as can be seen by the output of search engines. By co-design we indicate collective creativity as it is applied across the whole span of a design process, as was intended by the name of this journal. Thus, co-design is a specific instance of co-creation. Co-design refers, for some people, to the collective creativity of collaborating designers. We use co-design in a broader sense to refer to the creativity of designers and people not trained in design working together in the design development process. Figure 2 shows a simple representation of the design process today. Of note is the large and growing emphasis on the front end. Formerly called ���pre-design���, the front end describes the many activities that take place in order to inform and inspire the exploration of open-ended questions such as ���how can we improve the quality of life for people living with a chronic illness?��� or ���what is the next big thing in family leisure time?��� The front end is often referred to as ���fuzzy��� because of the ambiguity and chaotic nature that characterize it. In the fuzzy front end,
This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in CoDesign, Taylor & Francis, March 2008. CoDesign is available online at http://journalsonline.tandf.co.uk 3/16 it is often not known whether the deliverable of the design process will be a product, a service, an interface, a building, etc. Considerations of many natures come together in this increasingly critical phase , e.g., understanding of users and contexts of use, exploration and selection of technological opportunities such as new materials and information technologies, etc. (Stappers, 2006). The goal of the explorations in the front end is to determine what is to be designed and sometimes what should not be designed and manufactured. The fuzzy front end is followed by the traditional design process where the resulting ideas for product, service, interface, etc. are developed first into concepts, and then into prototypes that are refined on the basis of the feedback of future users. Figure 2: The front end of the design process has been growing as designers move closer to the future users of what they design. 2. A quick glance at history It is interesting to note that even though the terms co-creation, cocreation, codesign and co- design have not yet made much of an impact on the online dictionaries and encyclopedia, each of these terms retrieves hundreds of thousands of hits on the search engine www.google.com. In fact, co-design alone pulled up 1,700,000 hits on July 2, 2007. This attests to the interest of people around the world in these content areas. Moreover, counts on Google Scholar (11,800 for codesign, 538 for co-creation, as compared to 3,470,000 for product design and 17,400,000 for design on August 18, 2007) indicate that the terms are also seriously discussed in academic design circles. It seems that we are talking about a very recent and relevant phenomenon. Or are we? Actually, the practice of collective creativity in design has been around for nearly 40 years, going under the name participatory design. Much of the activity in participatory design (this was the terminology used until the recent obsession with what is now called co-creation/co-design) has been going on in Europe. Research projects on user participation in systems development date back to the 1970s. In Norway, Sweden and Denmark, the Collective Resource Approach was established to increase the value of industrial production by engaging workers in the development