Very colourful tiled pattern, using abstract 60’s shapes to spell out co-design. Fluro teal, pink, yellow, deep green and red
Very colourful tiled pattern, using abstract 60’s shapes to spell out co-design. Fluro teal, pink, yellow, deep green and red

You may have just heard the word co-design for the first-time or you may already be jaded at the thought of it. In any case, there is something about it that has captured your attention. Imagination, cynicism or a combination of both.

If you are unsure and curious about co-design you are in the right place. This article is a snapshot of some of co-design’s origins, influences and toolkit/s. My promise to you is you will find at least one person, project or way of doing things that will compel you to dive a little deeper.

A colourful sketch of a swiss army knife with ‘co-design’ label. Green, pink, red and yellow squiggles and shapes.
A colourful sketch of a swiss army knife with ‘co-design’ label. Green, pink, red and yellow squiggles and shapes.
Before we jump in. If you need an introduction to what co-design is. Here’s where you want to look first.

Connecting the dots: co-design in Europe, influences and toolkits

This is not quite a timeline — because many of the folks who started in this field of “co-design” are still going — this is selection of the most fascinating folks paving the way to what we call co-design today. …

Image for post
Image for post

Co-design is a approach to design that has been gaining momentum — and evidence — for 40+ years. Starting in coming from social research and community development it has many names and diverging paths.

What that means for you is that there are many more tools out there and a lot more evidence around “co-designish” practices than you may think. Welcome to the co-design vortex.

Here is a small selection of labels I’ve seen:

Image for post
Image for post

Yup. I’m doing this folks it’s a definition.

Co-design is a group of people with different backgrounds, knowledge and skills cooperatively and creatively working together.

It works by having people

  • jointly explore and envision ideas
  • make and discuss stories (past, present, future)
  • tinker with mock-ups or prototypes.

What makes co-design tricky to define is that it is adaptable. It can be used for just about anything at any time. Co-design is performed differently depending on who you want to engage and the topic you need to discuss. Believe me this is not one size fits all.

There is no “wrong time” to co-design but there are better moments

To bring most value it’s great to start co-creating with community groups at the beginning of a project rather than the end. That way people get maximum input and influence on the direction you take. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo taken by Amy Whitfield

It’s all fun and games until you have to get up in front of a bunch of people you don’t necessarily know very well and try to compel them to design futures that are significantly different to what they currently know.

We were looking to get our participants thinking about the world of post disposable (and circular economies) when they all have been accustomed to was disposable goods, waste management and recyclable solutions. …

Image for post
Image for post

Last week Today partnered with KeepCup for Melbourne Knowledge Week (From the Ground Up — An exploration of Food, Hospitality and Tech in Melbourne) to run a fast paced workshop on the topic of post disposable futures. Our goal was to start an important conversation around Melbourne’s future waste plan.
In this mini series we introduce the linear, recycling and circular economies and explore what it means to be post disposable. We also share our
learnings and activities from the workshop so you can start the conversation within your community or city.

What is post disposable?

It’s not a word you often throw around in a casual conversation, so it was important for us to define what disposable meant. Examples of disposable products are all around us, from coffee cups to plastic straws and single use party products, they’ve been designed for convenience negating the detrimental impact on our environment. …

Image for post
Image for post

What is this? As the name suggests this is a list of tools that span design thinking and human-centred design. The tools go both ways because Design thinking draws a lot from human-centred design and vice versa.

Who if this for Well, you may have gotten a flavour of design thinking before or you might be interested, sceptical or confused. Potentially a mix of all of those. This is list of trusted resources that might help you ‘learn by doing’ in the design thinking space.

Videos worth watching

Design & Thinking (2012) Great intro to the whole thing
TED Talk, How to build your creative…

Image for post
Image for post

What is design thinking, why do I keep hearing about it?

Recently design thinking has gained momentum in the business world through mentions in the Harvard Business Review and Forbes publications. As a thing, design thinking has been described as anything from “a unified framework for innovation“ to the “essential tool for simplifying and humanising.”

Being in the news though doesn’t make design thinking anything new. Unlike the radical outcomes it promises, design thinking as an approach has been slowly evolving since the 1960’s. …

Things you should be thinking about, if you weren’t already


As part of to [icon] here are a of my few musings about how to get started in icon design. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the be-all-end-all expert on designing icons, but if practice makes perfect, than I’m getting pretty darn close. Step one is going to be admitting that designing okay icons is easy, and great icons, is remarkably harder, you as a designer are going to have to choose what side of the fence you want to sit on.

Designing great icons is a challenge. To be successful you will not only need to create (or make use of) strong metaphors, pick the right level of detail, and then somehow on top of that, create visual language or style. …

Jo Szczepanska

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store