Tools and methods

Participatory design

When it is useful

The participatory design method was first developed in the 1970s, and its assumptions and ideas are very close to cultural planning. It invites the user as partner of the designer from the beginning of the design process. This method is about understanding user needs and taking them into account from the very outset. This type of design is much less dictated by the maximisation of market profit, and more often engages in a critical discussion with reality, touching upon issues of social class, ownership or power. This method can be used to design specific tools, furniture, but also spaces such as Growroom designed by Husum & Lindholm. For more examples of projects and methods, please visit the Rhizome participatory design research centre, which was created in partnership with UrbCultural Planning.

Participatory design

Step by step instruction

  • If you want to work with this method, invite someone with design experience.
  • Out of the collected materials about the neighbourhood, decide together with the inhabitants the challenge you want to face in your design.
  • During your meetings, you will work together to think about what you can do to solve the problem and how to adapt your design to the specific needs.
  • The designers will develop and test prototypes together with the residents.
  • When you consider your project ready, you can share the final product – the effect of your work. The design itself and the instructions for its implementation can be made freely available to other organisations facing similar challenges.

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