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Kohtala, Cindy, ProfessorORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-7417-0745
Biography [eng]

design research, science & technology studies, design-for-sustainability, grassroots innovation, peer production

Publications (10 of 26) Show all publications
Thomas, L., Pistofidou, A., Troxler, P. & Kohtala, C. (2024). Peer production as mindful and responsible innovation: the case of fabricademy. Journal of Innovation Economics & Management, 43(1), 103-129
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Peer production as mindful and responsible innovation: the case of fabricademy
2024 (English)In: Journal of Innovation Economics & Management, ISSN 2352-6645, E-ISSN 2032-5355, Vol. 43, no 1, p. 103-129Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study explores the intent of designers involved in design for sustainability and how responsible innovation can be collectively implemented. To do so, a case study using situational analysis was conducted with graduates of the Fabricademy program: a 6-month program on textiles and new technologies taught in a distributed manner out of the Fab Lab Network, focused on the value of open-source sharing and a hands-on approach to learning. In a context where both designers and consumers find the fashion industry increasingly devoid of purpose and connection, building skills through collective intelligence empowers actors in systemic transition, pointing to alternative pathways. Our findings indicate how the pedagogical approach of the Fabricademy program builds the technological literacy and self-awareness of learners so that they may transform products, services, systems and practices. We discuss these findings in light of dimensions for responsible innovation: anticipation, reflexivity, inclusion and responsiveness.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cairn, 2024
Keywords
Collaboration, Design, Responsible Innovation, Open Source Circular Fashion, Distributed Education
National Category
Economics and Business Design
Research subject
design; sustainability; education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-220198 (URN)10.3917/jie.043.0103 (DOI)2-s2.0-85189545020 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2024-01-29 Created: 2024-01-29 Last updated: 2024-04-15Bibliographically approved
Vezzoli, C., Kohtala, C., Rognoli, V. & Ayala-Garcia, C. (2023). [Changing] Ecosystems. In: IASDR2023: Life changing design: Introduction papers. Paper presented at IASDR 2023: Life-Changing Design, Milan, Italy, october 9-13, 2023. Paper presented at IASDR 2023: Life-Changing Design, Milan, Italy, october 9-13, 2023. International Association of Societies of Design Research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>[Changing] Ecosystems
2023 (English)In: IASDR2023: Life changing design: Introduction papers, International Association of Societies of Design Research , 2023Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper presents a review and critical analysis of papers submitted for the Ecosystems Track of the Life-Changing Design conference, which focused on "Changing Ecosystems" through design for sustainability. The conference track aimed to explore the multifaceted dimensions of sustainability and its connection to design practice, research, and education. The papers covered various subthemes, including products and product design, Sustainable Product-Service Systems, craft, materials, aesthetics, more-than-human design, biodesign, and the role of designers as actors in society influencing policy, local-global dynamics, place-making, strategy-setting, and stakeholder interactions. Through synthesising the findings and insights from these papers, this review aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the advancements made in design for sustainability and highlight emerging trends and future research directions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
International Association of Societies of Design Research, 2023
Series
IASDR Conference series
Keywords
design, sustainable design, design-for-sustainability, circularity, circular economy
National Category
Design
Research subject
design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-215334 (URN)10.21606/iasdr.2023.886 (DOI)
Conference
IASDR 2023: Life-Changing Design, Milan, Italy, october 9-13, 2023
Note

Conference: IASDR 2023: Life-Changing Design, Milan, Italy, october 9-13, 2023

Available from: 2023-10-18 Created: 2023-10-18 Last updated: 2023-10-19Bibliographically approved
Prendeville, S. & Kohtala, C. (2023). From rhetoric to realpolitik: The optimism of design commons discourse. In: : . Paper presented at Commons in Design conference, Basel, Switzerland, February 15-17, 2023.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From rhetoric to realpolitik: The optimism of design commons discourse
2023 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Whilst design discourse tends to reify the commons as a utopian site of potentially emancipatory ways of living, commons are also fraught with internal struggles often leading to their disintegration and thus ultimately their ephemerality. We refer particularly to the quasi-institutional, cross-border, often self-organizing collective actions in which we often find ourselves immersed, as design academics. We play roles as researcher-observers, design intervention organizers, and activists, in networks and initiatives from conventional academic listservs to online groups to place-based participatory projects. ‘Commons’ and commoning has become a distinct analytical and strategic device for designers working with (and sometimes as) activists in social change (Botero et al. 2020), with "design research” playing various roles. At the same time, we have seen how grassroots activist communities committed to providing positive socio-ecological and anti-capitalist economic alternatives fail to sustain commons they purportedly valued and maintained. Meanwhile, critics of Western scholarship of the commons see its emphasis on governance as reductive, as against commons as embodied, aesthetic or affective communities. We thus see messy tensions related to the production of commons discourse in design academia, stemming from politicised framings, means and ends, and the occasional inability of design research to recognize itself as part of the problem. We aim to illustrate how design discourse tends to reify the commons as a utopian site of potentially emancipatory ways of living that can, in fact, render them as designs from nowhere. As commons are intimate to care and ecologies, these issues we observe in commons practices readily speak to our long-term and shared collective socio-ecological responsibilities. Whilst we invoke commons as a site of care and responsibility, an act of leadership of a hopeful form, such claims also present counter-intuitive questions pertaining to concepts and practices of commoning. Asserting that the governance of commons necessitates forms of responsibility, checks and balances on problematic forms of leadership that undermine their existence and vitality, shouldn’t manifest as rigid frameworks for constructing commons ‘from scratch’ at the behest of listening to community practices that already exist. The question then becomes, how can we negotiate tricky and often ambiguous questions about practices of commoning? How do we reconcile the construction of gendered, circumscribed and artificial spaces of ‘commoning’ that appear detached from people’s daily lives with ideals of participation and aspirations to democracy evident in such models for new forms of social cooperation, and in contrast to manifold contemporary empirical examples of commons appropriation and disintegration? To this end, we argue that a combination of naivety and proceduralism renders design commons research as rhetorical in its idealism whilst also displaying excesses of pragmatism that seem only to conceal power politics in practice. This comes into stark focus when juxtaposed with the uncommoning practices at play in design higher education institutions and this clarity is essential for challenging the abject practices emerging under the auspices of commons framings. We attribute these issues to commons design research having become delinked from critical traditions, which necessarily sit at the heart of a feminist embodied anticapitalist commons practice and an absence of which jeopardizes commons as a site of ecological care.

Keywords
design, commons, commoning, sustainability, feminist, ecofeminist
National Category
Design
Research subject
architecture, urbanism; design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-205239 (URN)
Conference
Commons in Design conference, Basel, Switzerland, February 15-17, 2023
Available from: 2023-02-27 Created: 2023-02-27 Last updated: 2023-10-30Bibliographically approved
Prendeville, S. & Kohtala, C. (2023). From rhetoric to realpolitik: the optimism of design commons discourse. In: Christine Schranz (Ed.), Commons in design: (pp. 181-200). Amsterdam: Valiz
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From rhetoric to realpolitik: the optimism of design commons discourse
2023 (English)In: Commons in design / [ed] Christine Schranz, Amsterdam: Valiz , 2023, p. 181-200Chapter in book (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Amsterdam: Valiz, 2023
Keywords
design, commons, design activism, design research, academia
National Category
Design
Research subject
design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-215909 (URN)978-94-93246-30-0 (ISBN)978-94-93246-31-7 (ISBN)
Note

Based on the research project "Commons in Design" and the conference with the same name, held in Basel, Switzerland, February 15-17, 2023.

Available from: 2023-10-28 Created: 2023-10-28 Last updated: 2023-10-30Bibliographically approved
Özçelik, A., Kohtala, C. & Löchtefeld, M. (2023). Small fish in a big pond: Product longevity design strategies for smart speakers. In: Daniela De Sainz Molestina; Laura Galluzzo; Francesca Rizzo; Davide Spallazzo (Ed.), IASDR 2023: Life-changing design: Full papers. Paper presented at IASDR 2023: Life-Changing Design, Milan, Italy, October 9-13, 2023.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Small fish in a big pond: Product longevity design strategies for smart speakers
2023 (English)In: IASDR 2023: Life-changing design: Full papers / [ed] Daniela De Sainz Molestina; Laura Galluzzo; Francesca Rizzo; Davide Spallazzo, 2023Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Extending the lifetime of the product, as one of the strategies for design for sustainability, may increase the value of the product in use, repair, recycle and disposal phases for a longer lifetime thereby decreasing demand for new manufacturing. However, employing these perspectives may be challenging and requires long development processes. In the current structure, small scale companies have a potential to be a significant actor in transition for sustainable manufacturing and design due to their agile development skills. We will present empirical data collected from eight participants regarding five small scale companies who design and manufacture long-lasting connected smart speakers. Key findings and implications highlight that small scale smart product producers strive to maintain control over design decisions in order to enhance the potential for long-lasting products; such companies thus need to be empowered towards distribution and decentralisation of design and manufacturing. To do so, (1) local manufacturing of the hardware is needed; (2) distributed and decentralised repair services need to be available to distribute the responsibility and increase the resilience of the product; (3) new types of intermediary relationships such as collaborating with local incubation centres and local initiatives should be encouraged; and (4) future designers may also need to practise their production skills and include open-source hardware and software development in their projects.

Keywords
design, sustainable design, design-for-sustainability, circularity, circular economy, longevity, industrial design, distributed economies
National Category
Design
Research subject
design; industrial design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-215910 (URN)10.21606/iasdr.2023.290 (DOI)
Conference
IASDR 2023: Life-Changing Design, Milan, Italy, October 9-13, 2023
Available from: 2023-10-28 Created: 2023-10-28 Last updated: 2023-10-30Bibliographically approved
Hector, P. & Kohtala, C. (2022). Experimenting with sustainability education: the case of a student-driven campus initiative in Finland. Local Environment: the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Experimenting with sustainability education: the case of a student-driven campus initiative in Finland
2022 (English)In: Local Environment: the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, ISSN 1354-9839, E-ISSN 1469-6711Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Experiments are deemed not only useful, but necessary in sustainability transformation to enhance local decision-making. This is especially apparent in Finland where national government programmes and city administrations promote sustainability experimentation and bottom-up initiatives in the interest of equitable participation. At the same time, universities are expected to respond to societal calls for major infrastructural transformations, while neoliberal principles shift responsibility from authorities to individual citizens. This paper examines the case of a student-driven sustainable campus initiative called “Test Site” in a university committed formally to sustainability education. The students questioned whether sustainability should be taught in air-conditioned classrooms, what topics were socially just and worth pursuing, and rather sought material engagement, creative exploration and autonomy. Invested faculty members were dependent on demonstrations and proof of impact, or at least convincing visuals, to sustain the initiative. The outcome of experimenting most valued by the students however was the material-based social learning on how to self-organise. The meaning of such “minor” experiments thus becomes muddled, involving local, situated power dynamics among university management, faculty and students and what is regarded as useful space and activity for learning. The case illustrates how an experimental site partly removed from university constraints rendered explorations of self-organising participants as valuable yet depended on visible proofs to justify this very exploration as worthwhile. Even within a neoliberal and highly hierarchical governance structure, some participants are able to make small gains to pursue socially just solutions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2022
Keywords
grassroots experiments, sustainable campus, social learning, self-organising
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
design; sustainability
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-194672 (URN)10.1080/13549839.2021.1891033 (DOI)000621317700001 ()2-s2.0-85101540385 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2022-05-12 Created: 2022-05-12 Last updated: 2022-05-13
Rossi, E., Di Nicolantonio, M., Ceschin, F., Mincolelli, G., Dos Santos, A., Kohtala, C., . . . Manzini, E. (2021). Design Contributions for the COVID-19 Global Emergency (Part 2): Methodological Reflections and Future Visions. Strategic Design Research Journal, 14(1), 1-18
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Design Contributions for the COVID-19 Global Emergency (Part 2): Methodological Reflections and Future Visions
Show others...
2021 (English)In: Strategic Design Research Journal, E-ISSN 1984-2988, Vol. 14, no 1, p. 1-18Article in journal, Editorial material (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

This is a landmark publication for the field of design. It was catalysed by unprecedented circumstances, as designers around the world had to rapidly deploy their competencies in strategic problem-solving to help humanity in the fight against an invisible enemy during a global pandemic. In alliance with other disciplines, from medicine to mechanical engineering, from computing to anthropology, designers everywhere have addressed the challenges and produced remarkable results through a diversity of initiatives. This Special Issue presents a peer-reviewed sample of these initiatives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos - Unisinos, 2021
Keywords
design, public health, design research, COVID-19
National Category
Design
Research subject
design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-194673 (URN)10.4013/sdrj.2021.141.01 (DOI)
Available from: 2022-05-12 Created: 2022-05-12 Last updated: 2022-05-13Bibliographically approved
Vezzoli, C., Garcia Parra, B. & Kohtala, C. (Eds.). (2021). Designing sustainability for all: the design of sustainable product-service systems applied to distributed economies (1ed.). Cham: Springer
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Designing sustainability for all: the design of sustainable product-service systems applied to distributed economies
2021 (English)Collection (editor) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This open access book introduces design for Sustainable Product-Service Systems (S.PSS) and for Sustainable Distributed Economies (S.DE). These are introduced as technical and operative tools for the development of a new generation of designers, responsible and capable of designing environmentally-sustainable products.

The book provides a comprehensive theoretical framework but also a practical tool to support the design process. It overviews methodologies, tools and strategies for Sustainable PSS design applied to Distributed Economies (DE) and provides strategies and design guidelines. All of these are highlighted and expanded upon with international case studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cham: Springer, 2021. p. 142 Edition: 1
Series
Lecture Notes in Mechanical Engineering, ISSN 2195-4356, E-ISSN 2195-4364
Keywords
Design for Sustainability; Product-Service System (PSS); Sustainable Development; Distributed Economies (DE); Circular Economy; Social Equity and Cohesion; Open Access
National Category
Design
Research subject
design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-194424 (URN)10.1007/978-3-030-66300-1 (DOI)978-3-030-66299-8 (ISBN)978-3-030-66300-1 (ISBN)
Funder
European Commission, 561927-EPP-1-2015-1-IT-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP
Available from: 2022-05-04 Created: 2022-05-04 Last updated: 2022-05-16Bibliographically approved
Berglund, E. & Kohtala, C. (2021). Knowing and imagining with sustainable makers (1ed.). In: Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston; Mark Auslander (Ed.), In search of lost futures: anthropological explorations in multimodality, deep interdisciplinarity, and autoethnography (pp. 151-172). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Knowing and imagining with sustainable makers
2021 (English)In: In search of lost futures: anthropological explorations in multimodality, deep interdisciplinarity, and autoethnography / [ed] Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston; Mark Auslander, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021, 1, p. 151-172Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Materialist Activist Communities (MACs) concern themselves with material flows in a politically engaged form of maker culture. They speculate, design and make collectively, with a marked environmental orientation, often developing impossible forms of bio-hacking and bio-art. The futures animating them grow out of technoscientific and mundane presents, but as they make knowledge on the sidelines, materializing the existing and the improbable, such groups render the Anthropocene and more-than-human futures tangible. While “maker culture” has been prone to techno-utopian hype, MACs embrace dirt, mess and bodies nurturing a “dirt way” of learning, a principled way of being in situated and partial confusion. We imagine alongside them, also in the dirt way, through ethnography, an explicitly messy way of working out what is important and why.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021 Edition: 1
Keywords
biohacking, ethnography, fablabs, design, futures, knowledge practices, maker culture
National Category
Design Social Anthropology
Research subject
design; sustainability; Cultural Anthropology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-211238 (URN)10.1007/978-3-030-63003-4_7 (DOI)2-s2.0-85131594193 (Scopus ID)9783030630027 (ISBN)9783030630034 (ISBN)
Available from: 2023-06-29 Created: 2023-06-29 Last updated: 2023-06-30Bibliographically approved
Kohtala, C., Hyysalo, S. & Whalen, J. (2020). A taxonomy of users’ active design engagement in the 21st century. Design Studies, 67, 27-54
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A taxonomy of users’ active design engagement in the 21st century
2020 (English)In: Design Studies, ISSN 0142-694X, E-ISSN 1872-6909, Vol. 67, p. 27-54Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

People not only purchase and use products and services, but creatively appropriate, hack, redesign and even innovate in them. Typologies of active use have emerged in various disciplines, remaining piecemeal even if complementary. Together they produce a blurry depiction of active design engagement, despite active use being pivotal to many emerging design approaches. To remedy this, we synthesize a taxonomy of different aspects of active use and design engagement. Use as-is, active use, locally new designs and globally new innovations mark different intensities of engagement. These can concern the material form of design, new uses, new meanings, adjustment to local settings, or the collective endeavours to shape communities and organizations, ideologies and imaginaries, and global platforms that facilitate active use. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2020
Keywords
user participation, innovation, collaborative design, human factors, active use
National Category
Design
Research subject
design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-194422 (URN)10.1016/j.destud.2019.11.008 (DOI)000518877100002 ()2-s2.0-85076998638 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Academy of Finland, 289520
Available from: 2022-05-04 Created: 2022-05-04 Last updated: 2022-05-05Bibliographically approved
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-7417-0745

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