Shapeways, The Community

DIY Design: Will DIY Save Design

The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) conference asks DIY Design: Will DIY Save Design/ Exploitation or Freedom of Expression/ Threat or Opportunity/ Crappy or Crafty?

It looks like the IDSA is not dealing with DIY design so well as they don’t seem to know exactly what question to ask for the theme of the IDSA 2010 Conference but at least they realize they need to ask something, perhaps anything….

The Conference is broken down into six major topics, many of which fall square into the activities of the Shapeways community, including:


The rise and spread of technologies that enable individuals to design and create with a scale and sophistication once available only to corporations.


Using the Do It Yourself ethic to foster innovation, even within larger organizations.


Consumers in many nations and markets are becoming increasingly aware of craft, scale and provenance. How does this impact design?


Information and manufacturing technologies have enabled large scale manufacturers to make customized offerings as never before. Does this constitute a type of DIY, or is it completely different?


Many examples of crowdsourced design have reached public consciousness recently, with mixed reaction. Is everything crowdsource-able? What are the advantages, challenges and pitfalls to spreading the design task to the masses?


Better tools and better markets for small scale creation are making it a viable option for more people. Is DIY a way out for frustrated designers who want more control? Is it necessary to be small in order to be independent?

The speakers scheduled so far range from the impressive to the irrelevant including (in a particular order:):

Dale Dougherty of MAKE Magazine, dorkbot PDX, Derek Elley of Ponoko, Bob Marchant of Modo, John Hoke of Nike, John Jay of Wieden + Kennedy, Muki Hansteen Izora of Intel, Rajib Adhikary of Dell and Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge.

Now what is important here is that the IDSA is realizing that DIY design is becoming a significant player in industrial design from to pure amateur tinkering through to students, semi-pro hobbyists and ‘professional’ designers doing bespoke design work with readily available tools such as open source software and Shapeways.

The implications of this shift for the design professions are potentially massive. The DIY resurgence is making consumers question the need for mass production, and by extension, the need for designers.

Ok, I doubt that professional industrial designers everywhere are in fear that a ‘Global Design Crisis’ (GDC) is about to see them begging on the street (although the GFC may).  The proliferation of desktop publishing did not take well paid work away from graphic designers, it simply meant that Average Joe could make their own fliers for their football club bingo night and not have to pester a ‘friend of a friend’ who is a graphic designer to do it for free (please do read linked example.)  So too, the massive popularity of Youtube has not forced Steven Spielberg to sell Neverland (or wherever he lives) but it may just get the makers of a wildly popular viral clip a chance at writing advertising copy for the big end of town.

DIY design is a fertile space where innovative designs can be made tested and reiterated very quickly without the interference of management, marketing departments, safety regulations and maybe even patents.  Where bespoke design means the distance between what people want and what they get is much closer than with a mass produced object.  It will be interesting to see what evolves from the conference, speakers and debates,

Follow the conference blog to stay up to date on what is happening in the lead-up to the conference and they have even been so thoughtful to draft a co-creator letter to your manager to help design professionals find their way there… If you get there please share your experience… Now to fill out that letter…..

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Shapeways Designer Evangelist
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