reconceptualized. The focus now is on
multicultural, social, and humanistic
levels of achievement as the
foundation for the traditional skills of
reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Older schoolchildren have learning
experiences that provide activities
of co-design thinking and making.
They initially learn by co-designing
with each other. By the time they
graduate from high school, they will
have learned how to bring others
together in co-designing efforts. What
we used to call service learning at
the high school level now consists of
experiences in participatory design
with members of the local community.
At the university level, designing
is a core component of all curricula in
every department. The design process
is the path that we take to go between
and open the doors to the disciplinary
silos. Faculty members are rewarded
for transdisciplinary successes as
well as for discipline-specific goals.
Some students will choose to focus
their education on design and learn
the skills and frameworks of hybrid
designer/design researchers. They
can choose whether to focus on a
practical route or an academic route.
Those who aim to go into practice
will learn how to make tools and
select the materials to facilitate the
creativity of others. Those who choose
the academic route will explore and
experiment with complex social
systems in collaboration with students
from across the world through socially
engaged networks. Students can also
choose to have feet in both camps if
they plan to practice and teach others
who aim to enter practice.
Over the past 30 years, almost every
aspect of doing design has changed.
We still seem to be in the middle of
a transition to greater entanglement
and complexity, but with greater
involvement of people and, hopefully,
more value contributed by the
design capabilities of many. We can
anticipate these uncertainties with
hope or fear. But if we can use design
thinking, making, and enacting to
visualize and explore the future
together, then we will be able to
harness our collective creativity to
serve our collective dreams.
1. Sanders, E.B.-N. Ethnography and the
empowerment of everyday people. White
Paper for Microsoft Corporation, 2004.
2. Stappers, P.J., van Rijn, H., Kistemaker,
S.C., Hennink, A.E., and Sleeswijk
Visser, F. Designing for other people’s
strengths and motivations: Three cases
using context, visions, and experiential
prototypes. Advanced Engineering
Informatics 23, 2 (2009), 174–183.
3. Sanders, E.B.-N. and Stappers, P.J.
Convivial Toolbox: Generative Research for
the Front End of Design. BIS Publishers,
4. Sanders, L. and Simons, G. A social vision
for value co-creation in design. Open
Source Business Resource. Dec. 2009;
5. Bansal, S. Innovation within reach.
The Ne w York Times . Aug. 21, 2014;
6. Rittel, H. W.J. and Webber, M.M.
Dilemmas in a general theory of planning.
Policy Sciences 4, 2 (1973), 155–169.
7. Sanders, E.B.-N. and Stappers, P.J. Probes,
toolkits and prototypes: Three approaches
to making in codesigning. CoDesign 10, 1
8. Zimmerman, J., Forlizzi, J., and Evenson,
S. Research through design as a method for
interaction design research in HCI. Proc. of
the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors
in Computing Systems. ACM, New York,
9. Stappers, P.J. Doing design as a part of
doing research. In Design Research Now. R.
Michel, ed. Birkhäuser, Basel, 2007, 81–91.
10. Sleeswijk Visser, F. , Stappers, P.J.,
Van der Lugt, R., and Sanders, E.B.-N.
Contextmapping: Experiences from
practice. CoDesign 1, 2 (2005) 119–149.
Liz Sanders has a background in
psychology and anthropology. Over the past
three decades, she has practiced co-designing
across all the design disciplines, developing
methods, tools and techniques to drive and/
or inspire design from a human-centered
perspective. She is the founder of Make Tools,
a company that explores new spaces in
emerging design landscapes. She also teaches
in the Design Department at The Ohio State
Pieter Jan Stappers is professor of design
techniques at Delft University of Technology’s
Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering.
His research has focused on developing
tools and techniques that support the early
phases of design processes. Together with
colleagues and Ph.D. students, he leads the
contextmapping research initiative in Delft,
developing design research methods and tools
and bringing these to education and practice.
Design and design research are one
and the same at the front end. The
front end is transdisciplinary, and the
problems that designers and design
researchers find themselves involved
with are wicked, in the sense that
there is no sharply specified problem
or no simple criteria for a single
solution. Rather, problem solving is
a complex process of sensemaking
and intervention, with spinoffs along
the way [ 6]. Transdisciplinary social
networks of people work collectively
to address wicked problems across
continents. Success goes hand in hand
with sustainable and convivial ways of
Who will design? Everyone
can be involved in designing and
gains relevant learning experiences
throughout their education to enable
their participation. The people whom
we currently call designers are the
toolmakers, making the tools and
providing the materials the rest
of us use to imagine and express
our collective ideas about future
experience. These toolmakers focus on
making sense of the future as well as
on giving shape to the future [ 7].
What will be designed? The people
who are today’s designers and design
researchers are the facilitators and
shapers of the collective dreams of the
people in 2044. We now understand
the intricate relationships between the
three levels of value in co-designing
(i.e., monetary vs. experience vs. social
values) and we know how and when to
promote each. The success of a project
is judged on a complex set of qualities;
the old bottom line of financial
profit will be difficult to discern in
the complex business models that
incorporate the indirect effects and
feedback loops needed to manage the
How will people be educated?
Elementary school children learn
about designing and co-designing
through practical and fun hands-on experiences. They have classes,
events, and workshops in making,
repairing, reusing, and repurposing.
Hacking comes later, in middle school.
There is no gender tag on the creative
domains. Boys learn to knit and sew
while girls make interactive things and
things out of wood. The educational
standards for assessment have been
NOVEMBER–DECEMBER 2014 INTERACTIONS 33 INTERACTIONS.ACM.ORG
DOI: 10.1145/2670616 COP YRIGHT HELD BY AUTHORS. PUBLICATION RIGH TS LICENSED TO ACM. $15.00