In Process Lab: Citizen Design we invite visitors to participate in the design process and help envision a better America. Through a series of questions and choices you will be asked to record what you and your community care about, define an issue that matters, and propose design tactics that could make a difference. This process is similar to how designers work when they collaborate with communities to address complex challenges—such as reducing dependence on private cars, improving access to healthcare, or restoring housing after natural disasters. Consider how design decisions are made all around you every day and in what ways you might engage, empathizing with other points of view and working collaboratively with community stakeholders to contribute as a citizen designer. Process Lab: Citizen Design is an extension of By the People: Designing a Better America (on view on at Cooper Hewitt through February 26, 2017). The Citizen Design activities are inspired by the GRAY AREA project and developed in partnership with ISA-Interface Studio Architects.
Despite decades of job and population loss, Philadelphia’s significant assets—established communities, strong cultural heritage, and historic architecture—remain. Seeking to reposition historic preservation within the city, the GRAY AREA project explores new ways for old buildings to support the future of neighborhoods. The GRAY AREA card deck encourages community stakeholders to think creatively about preservation challenges, prompting users to learn about and discuss local history, identify and share closely held values, and brainstorm possible uses, programs, and design interventions.
In Process Lab: Citizen Design, visitors participate in the design process and are encouraged to envision a better America and greater world. Through a series of questions and choices, visitors are asked to consider what they and their communities care about, define an issue that matters, and utilize design tactics to devise design projects that can make a difference. The digital interaction in Citizen Design invites participants to use their Pens to record their design processes. By capturing the selections they made with their Pens and downloading the data into a station in the lab, participants and others can see—through data visualization—where their choices fall within the community of the other participants. When participants visit their accounts after leaving Cooper Hewitt, the Citizen Design data visualization continues to update and reflects the most current community data. Days or months later, users will see what percentage of people made their same choices, sharing common values through design thinking.
A deck of 12 value nametags, 12 question worksheets, and 36 design tactic cards suggest methods through which to consider implementing change through design. Be a citizen designer! 1) Use 12 value nametags to identify what matters to you and your community. 2) Respond to 1 of 12 design questions to address important issues, incorporating established values. 3) 36 design tactic cards suggest methods through which to consider creating change through design.
Value: Hello! We Care About: Saving Lives Question: How might we place water in strategic locations in the desert to save the most lives? Design Tactics: Posters that warn potential migrants of the danger of crossing the border. Thirty foot flags for easy sighting. Water stations located where migrants were known to have died.
Value: Hello! We Care About: Demonstrating Alternative Transportation Question: How might we challenge American car culture to consider alternative options for transportation? Design Tactics: Bicycle + Moped = Low cost, highly efficient and easy to repair transportation option
Value: Hello! We Care About: Creating Inclusive Community Spaces Question: How might we transform a blighted property into an asset for our small town? Design Tactics: "If people can sit together, they can dream together." —Matthew Mazzotta