Negotiating Values in Design: A case of establishing and developing a co-sewing café

Ramia Maze

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Values are an emerging issue for design research as an increasingly wide and diverse range of people participate in design. A case in point here is the co-sewing café, which is typical of many such alternative sites of production such as Fab Labs, hacker- and makerspaces that involve a wide range of participants. Values are inescapably embedded in design – however as design expertise expands, opens and blurs in such sites, we need to further query which values, who’s, when and how are values involved in design. Arguing here for reflexive interrogation of values in design, we outline some approaches and further explore these by reflecting upon experiences from our case. In the co-sewing café, certain values were embedded in the set up by the design researcher, such as those of environmental sustainability, diversity in ethnicity, age and gender, as well as common ownership. These values were negotiated before and during the process with the participants, external actors, and in relation to changes in context and wider structures. This ongoing negotiation raises further questions relevant to power-relations in design, such as how values are defined, inter- preted and negotiated, by and for whom. To support reflexive interrogation of values in design, we have used methods informed by qualitative research (such as autoethnography within ‘research through design’) to elaborate and reflect upon our case in ways that may also be relevant for other alternative sites of production and for design research generally.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDESIGN+POWER
Subtitle of host publicationNo 7 (2017): Nordes 2017
Place of PublicationOslo, NO
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventNordic Design Research Conference: DESIGN + POWER - Oslo, Norway
Duration: 15 Jun 201717 Jun 2017
Conference number: 7

Publication series

ISSN (Electronic)1604-9705


ConferenceNordic Design Research Conference
Abbreviated titleNORDES 2017
Internet address


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