DIY and Co-creation: Representatives of a Democratizing Tendency

By JanWillem Hoftijzer.

Published by The Design Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Co-creation tends to represent an era in which the user of a product is in charge of the design. These days, people increasingly take part in the design and development process of the product they want: co-creation. Although co-creation is relatively new, users have indeed played an active and decisive part in the product development process earlier in history: Do-It-Yourself (DIY). The mass-culture named DIY exploded in the 1950s, in the U.S. People designed and built e.g. their own sheds and furniture, encouraged by the emergence of consumer power tools and DIY magazines. Like co-creation does, this DIY culture represents a convergence of design and consumption. In this paper, the two phenomena will be compared, resulting in some remarkable parallels and conclusions. Co-creation could very well be regarded as a new type of DIY, adapted to modern times: (1) In both cases the user takes part in the (product) development process formally done by a professional, (2) people’s reasons and motivations to do things themselves or to co-create are alike (e.g. joy, a sense of democratization and control: ‘being your own boss’), and (3) both phenomena have always been preceded by the availability of the right tools, toolkits, and mediation, (technologically) allowing us to do the trick ourselves: consumer power tools and kits in the 1950s, and today’s internet and web applications. What’s more: the history of Do-It-Yourself seems to validate the assumption that people would rather design or make their products themselves, if only there were possibilities to do so.

Keywords: Co-Creation, Co-Design, Product Design, Do-It-Yourself, Diy, Product Development, Mass-Customization, User Design, Participation

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.69-82. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.392MB).

JanWillem Hoftijzer

Assistant Professor and Chair, Department of Design, Production and Management, Faculty of Engineering Technology, University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands

JanWillem Hoftijzer (MSc) graduated as an Industrial Design Engineer at Delft University of Technology, department of formgeving. He has fulfilled positions as an industrial and conceptual designer for various design agencies and commercial businesses. At the University of Twente, he combines being a PhD candidate with teaching various subjects within the field of Industrial Design, e.g. Design Management and Design sketching. His research concerns co-creation, DIY and the factors that act upon user participation. Both DIY and co-creation represent a contrary direction compared to the ever increasing division-of-labor trend.


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