Particularly in a Scandinavian context, but also more broadly, there is a strong ambition for doing design not only for commercial or aesthetic purposes but also for ‘a greater good’. A particular strong paradigm has been various versions of “participatory design” and/or co-design (Schuler and Namioka 1993; Simonsen and Robertson 2012). Paradigms that - on the basis of earlier traditions for social design - all have a central rationality in making a difference for people in real life in cooperation with people, using their participation as a guiding principle for designs proposed. Recent contributions have suggested to develop this role in different directions either by emphasizing the need for rethinking the role of the designer as profoundly inter-/trans-disciplinary and situated (Simonsen et al. 2014) or by using design interventions/speculations as vehicles for provocation, reflection and public conversation (Dunne and Raby 2013), or by fusing the role of the researcher and the designer in constructive design research (Koskinen et al. 2011). Working from these traditions this contribution critically asks how and why to make people participate in the process, and in doing this question the role of the designer as the facilitator.

The good intentions and mantras of stakeholder involvement, co-creation and workshops of endless post-it notes seem to often not result in sustainable projects. Often the designer enters the process from ‘the outside’ and approaches problems and issues from the role of external experts attempting to identify what needs to be fixed and leaves the process before implementation. The project and initiatives usually end when the (research) stakeholders leave the project.

The presentation will focus on two examples of activist design research interventions: a short-lived site-specific art project - an intervention in local rural communities, and more than 15 years of experience with running illutron as an experimental facility for artistic explorations and learning. With this presentation we will argue for repositioning the designer researcher as activist emphasizing the need to embed the designer's ownership to the process in the specific context.

We propose the role of the researcher-activist as inspiration for a methodological shift within participatory design processes. Especially we invite the reader to reconsider the design researcher as an activist embedded in a project/context and attempt to preserve some of the advantages of motivated activist participants. In short this requires us to rethink the role of the design-researcher from a facilitating role to an equal stakeholder within the project.
Publikationsdatojun. 2019
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2019
BegivenhedConference Critical Edge Alliance 2019: Boundary Crossings in Culture, Power, and Experience: Re-imagining Higher Education - The New School , New York, USA
Varighed: 6 jun. 20198 jun. 2019


KonferenceConference Critical Edge Alliance 2019
LokationThe New School
ByNew York
AndetThe purpose of the conference is to explore contemporary issues around boundary crossing, as they relate to universities and learning, broadly conceived.<br/><br/>​This conference is dedicated to the memory of our colleague Professor L.H.M. “Lily” Ling, a founding member of the Critical Edge Alliance, who tragically passed away last year. The conference is designed in the spirit of Ling’s Silk Road Research Initiative, a research collective that pursued the re-imagination of world politics.<br/><br/>As part of that work, students and faculty from The New School (New York, NY) organized in 2013 around a shared vision: to transform the foundation that underpins today’s international system by thinking creatively about world politics.


  • Activism
  • design
  • Making
  • Citizenship
  • Participative Design
  • Art

Citer dette