Alice Rawsthorn shares different ways to enable participatory design.

Journalist and design critic Alice Rawsthorn, in her weekly column in the New York Times, says that designers should customize their work in such a way that it empowers the end consumer to participate in the design process.

Rawsthorn takes examples from the small inventions displayed at TechnoCRAFT, an exhibition that opened last week at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco:

One example is the system being developed by Local Motors, a car company in Arizona, to enable prospective customers to help design its cars online using open-source software. Another is the series of 100 chairs made in 100 days from remnants of old furniture by the Italian designer Martino Gamper. Then there are the “homemade” products improvised from found materials by the inmates of San Quentin State Prison in California, including chess sets made from toilet paper and a kettle from an electric plug and razor blade.

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