Comment on Tim Browns thoughts on Participatory Design


Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO has published a series of thoughts on participatory design here.

I left this comment, concerning the attitudes of people involved in participatory design processes:

Hi Tim, very interesting thoughts, thank you!

In our Institute for Participatory Design we work with participatory design for over 10 years now (mainly in the field of landscape architecture). We notice with great interest how the subject is taken up more and more by the broader design community.

We found out that since participatory design processes are centered around humans and their attitudes, there are some guidelines for successful participation in this respect:

1. the willingness to thoroughly engage with the topics at hand so that personal processes become intertwined with the design process,

2. the willingness of those involved in the design to engage with the process rather than trying to control or manage it,

3. the consideration of the needs of all which is participating: humans and non-humans alike,

4. the willingness to give room to existing potential,

5. the willingness to see crises and challenges as opportunities to transcend old thinking and behavioural patterns,

6. trust in the validity of the results of living processes even if these are not congruent with the original intentions.

Designing in a participatory way always puts the designers themselves at a point where they are subject to change. I sometimes wonder if “system” is the right term for understanding participatory design processes. Systems suggest networkes of nodes, connected be linear forces. We toy with the term “field” instead, understood as an abstract space for the interaction of nonlinear forces.




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