About

Cooperative Lab | Parsons Integrated Design Program Spring 2012

LAB FOCUS: Cooperation

Cooperation and collaboration may be key words in the contemporary world, despite a continued focus in many realms on individualism. Participative media and technologies (such as social networking software, mobile technology, and even community meetings) allow people to create, aggregate and distribute contents: ideas, plans, images and toolkits. Co-designing in multidisciplinary environments is an increasingly prominent way of working across a range of fields, and is gaining traction especially in design fields internationally. Collaborative services (services that are run through the collaboration of a group or groups of people, both for and not for profit) are emerging as key in both public and private offerings. Consumers turn out to be producers, becoming “prosumers”. Cooperating and collaborating can also be a way to create areas of collective identity and meaning for one’s own experience as it links to others’ lives. Through codesign, or collaborative design processes, innovation capacity, as well as creativity, can be widely spread. One challenge is to take advantage of this by finding ways for companies and other organizations (non-profits, community groups, students groups, etc.) to collaborate with clients, designers and other experts.

Cooperation, above all, involves developing and honing capacities and tools for engaging with otherness, learning about the contexts in which people and systems exist, and having a sensitivity towards the alterity, what is different from us. This implies the capability to get in touch with other people with a wide range of experiences and circumstances, sometimes quite different from those of the designer, to understand their positions, to learn from what they know – discern their expertise and actively seek it out, to gain their trust and to find a common ground and language to work together.

In design terms, cooperation can be imagined as having two meanings:

• Cooperation as a process: a way to design

• Cooperation as a result: collaborative solutions resulting from a design activity

The course will be teaching and stimulating cooperation in both ways, by proposing theories, examples, exercises and creative activities.

Cooperation and collaboration may be key words in the contemporary world, despite a continued focus in many realms on individualism. Participative media and technologies (such as social networking software, mobile technology, and even community meetings) allow people to create, aggregate and distribute contents: ideas, plans, images and toolkits. Co-designing in multidisciplinary environments is an increasingly prominent way of working across a range of fields, and is gaining traction especially in design fields internationally. Collaborative services (services that are run through the collaboration of a group or groups of people, both for and not for profit) are emerging as key in both public and private offerings. Consumers turn out to be producers, becoming “prosumers”. Cooperating and collaborating can also be a way to create areas of collective identity and meaning for one’s own experience as it links to others’ lives. Through codesign, or collaborative design processes, innovation capacity, as well as creativity, can be widely spread. One challenge is to take advantage of this by finding ways for companies and other organizations (non-profits, community groups, students groups, etc.) to collaborate with clients, designers and other experts.

This course explores design as a process of facilitation rather than design as a process of expert ideation. Students should already be adept collaborators with other designers. This course focuses on collaborations with non-designers. These collaborations are more than research or consultation sessions. They are moments at which designers teach non-designers to design for themselves. And moments at which designers design tools and techniques by which others can design for themselves and the others. The course will explore the history of participatory design, as it compares to examinations of expert design process, alongside experiments in participatory design.
Key words:
Co-design > Participatory Design > Diffused Creativity > Open Innovation > Empathic Design 
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