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Different Approaches to Democratise Design - Are they Equal?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2019

Mark Goudswaard
University of Bristol;
Hannah Forbes
University of Liverpool
Lee Kent
University of Bristol;
Chris Snider
University of Bristol;
Ben Hicks
University of Bristol;
E-mail address:


The democratisation of design permits greater stakeholder involvement in what has traditionally been a domain reserved for experts; the design process itself. This is enabled by technological advances in fields such as 3D printing, virtual reality and high-speed peer to peer communication technologies which have fuelled the development of new and innovative design methods. This paper compares and contrasts different approaches to the democratisation of design, and in particular, those that aim to involve wider stakeholders in the design process itself. Three different approaches(design by play, design by generation and crowdsourcing for design) are defined and contextualised within existing design frameworks and their respective suitabilities to democratise different design phases are considered. An exemplar use case of each approach is presented in order to assess how stakeholder engagement is affected by each democratising strategy. The discussion compares and contrasts the approaches with respect to their applicability and utility for different stages of the design process and how the power dynamics of the design process are altered when the different approaches are employed.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
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