When Skillful Participation Becomes Design
Making clothes together
Design, use and participation intersect in novel ways when a diverse community of people gather together to make clothes. Anja-Lisa Hirscher's book examines the fluidity that flourishes at these intersections by introducing findings from three “research through design” experiments which brought communities together to sew, upcycle and design new garments. The study examines concepts of skillful participation in alternative spaces of peer production and the designer’s role in facilitating the social and material aspects of making clothes together. Departing from early participatory design and peer production literature, this research investigates what happens when participants (designers and users) make (clothing) together in new forms, spaces and community contexts. As a result, the study documents how the role of participants (designers and users alike) evolves over time and is determined by the participants’ skillful acts of use. Hence, the dissertation looks beyond predefined roles and instead advocates for designing flexible spaces, which allow changes in participation and anticipate unexpected use.