Contemporary Issues in Design Education Friday, June 8th, 2018

Making together is key: A comparative analysis of co-creation in action

Emily Wright, Dr or Lecturer, Swinburne University

A comparative analysis of two Design Factory case studies demonstrates making together is key to building shared purpose across diverse stakeholders.

There is a rising imperative for design education programs world-wide to better prepare graduates for the challenges of the future job market. The ability to work successfully in teams across various disciplines requires excellent communication as well as collaboration skills. In addition, building the capacity to navigate uncertainty and the confidence to take risks is essential in the face of rising complexity where problem space boundaries are not clearly defined.

The Design Factory Global Network, first established at Aalto University, has worked in this space for the last decade. The education model brings together multi-disciplinary student teams and academic mentors with industry to carry out real world projects. The problem space of the projects is intentionally not clearly defined allowing for exploration and negotiation amongst the stakeholders to uncover new insights and opportunities with the industry partner. Co-creation is central to the Design Factory process which supports the stakeholders in the building of shared meaning and purpose for the project. Co-creation creates a safe space to make together; to generate ideas, to build prototypes, to test, to fail and iterate further.

This paper presents a comparative analysis of two case studies carried out at the Design Factory Melbourne that utilised co-creation and making as central to the development process. With both projects being focused on user experience, the first project was with a national supermarket chain and the second was with a financial software company. The analysis focuses on the role co-creation and making played in each project and how it impacted the students’ learning as well as the project process. The findings demonstrate that making together throughout the process benefits the project outcome. Making together is key to building shared meaning and purpose across diverse stakeholders.

Key words: Design education, making, co-creation, experience design