For the past several months I’ve been researching co-design practices around the world. Participatory methods don’t have much of a track record in the United States apart from the work of Liz Sanders at MakeTools. I’m interested in understanding the circumstances behind that gap.
There are plenty of good examples of co-design overseas so I’ve been reaching out to contacts in the UK, Australia and New Zealand for brief interviews about designing with groups and incorporating non-designers into the design process. Aside from the crazy logistics of interviewing people with a 19 hour time offset things are going well. I’ve spoken with designers from consultancies as well as within industry. My focus has been less on the “how” and more on the “why.” I’m exploring the culture surrounding participatory design as a first step in understanding how to catalyze those processes closer to home.
If you’re wrangling with co-design methods in your own organization I’d love to hear about your perspective. This could be as part of a design consultancy, an internal design team or as a component of design education. My interviews have been directed overseas for the most part but if you’ve found a pocket of co-design stateside then I’d definitely like to get in touch.