The co-design loop

The co-design approach, designing together, circumscribes an equable space where design thinking and practice harness collective intelligence… A space where stakeholders and communities of interest can contribute to improving economic & socio-cultural equity, while strengthening societies’ enterprises and institutions, and regenerating the environment.

Benefits of the co-design approach
…for businesses

  • Encourages strategic and holistic thinking
  • Focuses on risk managing the future
  • Helps innovate for new product and service development
  • Generates revenues or cost-savings from eco-efficiency strategies
  • Creates stronger supply chains and business networks
  • Enables strong co-ordination of sustainability objectives
  • Enhances communication around sustainability issues

…for social enterprises and community interest companies

  • Encourages strategic and holistic thinking
  • Engages multi-stakeholder communities giving them a voice
  • Locates expertise in and close to the enterprise
  • Helps innovate for new service development
  • Democratises decision-making and encourages transparency
  • Enables strong co-ordination of sustainability objectives

…for designers and design agencies

  • Encourages strategic and holistic thinking
  • Reveals new eco- and socio-enterprise opportunities
  • Extends the skill base to deal with complex sustainability issues
  • Provides a new innovation approach for clients
  • Innovates in new product/service development

…for design education

  • Strengthens students’ abilities to think holistically
  • Provides a new skillset for design facilitation
  • Encourages deep understanding of users and stakeholder involvement in the design process
  • Raises a deep awareness of sustainability issues
  • Provides design teachers with new tools

…for design activists

  • Enables greater leverage for those using design for positive change
  • Encourages involvement of key actors and multi-stakeholders in the design process
  • Ensures more democratic participation in design activities
  • Facilitates engagement and activation of key actors and multi-stakeholders

The co-design loop

The co-design loop ensures there is a continuous design cycle of:

Experiencing - what we already collectively know and feel
Problematising - understanding the deep underlying problems together; and
Solutioning - creating, designing and delivering solutions together.

Experiencing is a key part of the co-design loop, where we understand how designed artefacts, buildings or services are already impacting on our lives and the wider environment.  In this way co-designing becomes a way of ‘ giving a ‘nudge’ to now, a way of co-futuring.

…inspires socio-eco innovation
…is holistically and strategically orientated
…offers day-to-day management and implementation tools
…builds capacity and adaptability in individuals, enterprises and institutions
…creates new socio-cultural relationships
…reveals new opportunities for sustainability

Co-design is also about generosity, a new mutuality between the citizen designer (everyone) and the design professional, revitalising what it means to design. It is about gifting… so I offer the concept of Design Seeds, where we can share our design thoughts and more…

Co-design4… is a series of inter-connected Workshops, between May-October 2009, where you can learn about the co-design approach to everything from climate change to low-carbon economies, localism, and socio- and eco-preneuralism, happiness and adaptability, and more. I invite you to attend and enjoy the mutual learning experience.

Alastair Fuad-Luke
March 2009