DIY Design

7 Jul 2010 - 1:01pm
6 years ago
4 replies
1426 reads

I'm wondering what you think about the DIY Design movement and the momentum that it seems to be picking up, particularly in places like Portland. Do you see it a relevant to you and your career/future? Do you even feel like you have a complete understanding of what it means and the entrepreneurial component involved?  Will it really open doors or will it just muddy the waters between GOOD design and junk?

IDSA is devoting a whole conference to it in August... What do you think? Would you go to get the inside scoop from people like John Hoke and John Jay among others?


7 Jul 2010 - 4:24pm
Dave Malouf

While I think there is good energy now in the DIY community, overall I think they are a longtail opportunity at best and will not reach any sort of critical mass even in that way. I think it is compelling but the economics of DIY design is very shaky when you look at it up close with only a very few examples of viability. 

I also think in our field, DIY = entrepreneur or consultant. So from that perspective there is really nothing new here. I was actually very upset at the narrow focus of this year's IDSA conference. I will not be attending for many reasons and this is a big one. There are so many things going on in design a national organization's central conference should not be so narrowly focused. Did anyone ask what the community wanted? what it needs? Where was the user research? It definitely feels off-pulse to me.

-- dave

8 Jul 2010 - 9:30am



To Dave's point on the long tail. The more people there are designing their own solutions to problems, the more people will be inspired to think about suitability of the products they buy & use.


Here's a scenario that I dont think is far off.  We will soon have consumer 3d printers and laser cutters that will allow us to download a design for a trendy coffee table from modify the dimensions to suit our own needs/space and manufacture it ourselves.  Then share the redseign.


And, when all this technology is available (whether we buy it ourselves or go to the kinkos version in the mall) our children will become more comfortable with the idea of creating their own bespoke solutions.  It will make them more cognizant of their needs, consider the quality/suitability of mass produced goods, ask whether they could make something better themselves. I feel that this in turn will make ill-designed products less desirable. 


I agree that DIY isn't there yet but the IDSA's recognition of the domain underlines the importance I see this movement having in the years to come.  The IxDA should accept and embrace the idea and start talking about design principles/methodologies for the every-man.


regards/ pauric



8 Jul 2010 - 9:55am

I have mixed thoughts about DIY Design.

DIY Design reminds of the evolution of garment fashion. Before the advent of industrial age, clothes were designed and made by people at a community level. Fabric was heavily reused. But now that talent has been completely lost due the centralization of manufacturing. I think the DIY Design movement is people response to their needs to design things themselves.

However, what is the distinction between "DIY Design" and "Design"? I think the conference could have touched on some core principles of the movement. I agree with David that the topics seem detached from the actual movement, but that is just my personal opinion.

8 Jul 2010 - 1:48pm

Thanks! To answer your question, " what is the distinction between "DIY Design" and "Design"?" I think the distinction is really in what happens around the actual designing.  How many designers in all design fields have been contracted, hired, or told by a boss to design "X" or redesign "X"?  Designers are by definition a dirrerent type of thinker. Designers create and innovate. The designer's brain is wired a bit differenty - in a good way -- so a designer sees a problem or void inteh market place very differently than say a corporate type would. Consequently while big business wants typically to tweek what they already have so that it can be repackaged, remarketed, resold, and/or have a higher ROI, the design mind comes up with a whole new type of product to fit a scenario, address a need, or fill a gap that prehaps most others don't even see.


What happens in those situations? If the designer feels like following through on that concept on his/her own then everyone benefits... think Dyson, the Iphone, Ipad, etc  But that's where ethe DIY part comes in... Meld the designers inherent "Design thinking" capabilities with the entrepreneurial spirit Dave mentions. The designer gets the idea designed, manufactured and to market, maybe to do that the designer starts his/her own business and grows that business along with the product's success, maybe he/she gets a backer or maybe he/she just gets it to market in the hopes that a large corporation will then be interested.


In any case the designer is now pulling from a skill set and knowledge base for which designers are not typically known... thinking like a business executive, and running an actual corporation. That's where the DIY part comes in. And as I'm trying to come up with a concise clean definition of DIY Design I find myself going back to daye's post over and over... I think is COULD be called Design Entrepreneuialism.. But that is a mouthfull ( much less inpossible to spell) and DIY design seems catchier so maybe that's how it got its name. :-)

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