Design as continuous repair
Experimentation, negotiation, and expertise in DIY spaces
With the phenomenon of citizen engagement at alternative production and
consumption spaces proliferating, this dissertation presents analysis
from the perspectives of participatory design (PD) and science and
technology studies (STS) to investigate how these spaces are established
and sustained as infrastructures for a 'make, test, and repair'
culture. Employing semi-structured interviews and participant
observation with seven 'DIY spaces' this study asks 'what forms of
design are enacted, and how do they support reproduction of the space
and circulation of socio-material resources?' and 'how do these
resources affect the negotiation of relevance and expertise at
participant, collective, and institution level?'
dissertation highlights the spaces' nature as emergent and relational
infrastructures providing access to workshop equipment, knowledge,
social meeting places, and ways of materially pursuing utopian ideals.
The material engagements span a broad range, from products' adaptation
for local settings to, for more invested practitioners, means of
collective organising such as negotiation of decision-making tools and
responsibilities. While most are far from radical, the engagements are
shown to be demonstrations that things might be otherwise – a form of
ongoing, immediate future-making. Be they products, guidelines, or
visualisations, these demonstrations further matter for stabilising
experimental sites that, being in 'constant beta mode', mirror on
organisation level the DIY ethos present at the level of the individual.
Read the doctoral thesis here