Dissolving Boundaries – OZCHI 2009 Paper


The discipline of design is in a constant state of change. As noted in the previous post one of the most significant trends currently impacting on design practice is the opening up of the design process. Design is moving out from the studio and into the wild, taking place where people live [1].  Users are being re-cast as co-designers, co-creators and co-developers. Trends such as ‘open design’, ‘crowdsourcing’, designing for design in use, post-release iterations and ‘emergent design’ provide new ways for people to participate in the design process,  and challenge some of our traditional models of design.


The paper Dissolving boundaries: social technologies and participation in design [Preprint_Pdf] being presented at OZCHI this November is an attempt to provide a ‘lay of the land’.  We look at key trends and opportunities for supporting participation in design from across industry and research and point to some of questions about roles and responsibilities they raise for design practitioners. The paper, and the proposed discussion at Interaction10 (submission pasted below for prosperity), are an attempt to promote and contribute to ongoing discussion on how these shifts are changing design practice.

The sketches (scribbles) in this post were fundamental for thinking through, conceptualising and communicating the various ways design is being reshaped, and for starting to think about models of participation. I recently also came across these (much more refined!) sketches that also visualise emerging co-creation and codesign models.


Discussion Proposal submitted to IXD10.

Design in the wild: the practitioners new playground

Design is moving into the wild, propelled in part by the participatory nature of social technologies. Trends such as ‘open design’ which supports mass participation in the design process, ‘crowdsourcing’ of design ideas and skills from the public, ‘design after design’ or ‘design in use’ where design is iterated post-release and ‘emergent design’ where seed prototypes are shaped through use, challenge some of our traditional models of design.

In this shifting design landscape boundaries between design and use, and designer and user begin to blur. Not for the first time, but for the first time on this scale, design is moving out of the studio and taking place in more public forums. These shifts in design practice and process are generating questions about roles, responsibilities and appropriate frameworks for participation and decision-making.

In this session we’ll sketch out some of the challenges and opportunities currently facing us as practitioners. The discussion will be framed around the following topics:

– The suitability of existing methods to cater to this emerging design space
– The directions of emerging methods
– Potential frameworks for supporting participation and decision-making
– The impact these changes are having to our roles, responsibilities and skill-sets as design practitioners.

This session will be an opportunity for practitioners to share their ideas, concerns and thoughts, as well as explore what shifts are already happening, or may be necessary, to support these emerging forms of participation and collaboration in design.


1. Lee, Y., ‘Design participation tactics: the challenges and new roles for designers in the co-design process’, CoDesign, vol. 4, no. 1, (2008) pp. 31 – 50.



  1. Thanks Andrea! Yes, looking forward to presenting at Ozchi, sadly the discussion submission to IXD10 didn’t make it, but I know there’ll be plenty of other opportunities to continue the conversation about these (exciting) changes and challenges in design regardless!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *