Hayden’s Seven American Utopias

  1. Do you see the practice of collaborative design enhancing community in your daily life?  If so, on more than one scale?  Please describe.
  2. How do you think the decision making structure of collaborative groups affects design?  Have your experiences with this been positive or negative?  Please describe.
  3. How is the process of collaborative design visible in physical objects and spaces? Can you give some examples?


For me the practice of collaborative design certainly enhances community’s lifestyle and living conditions and not just on one level. Firstly, collaborative practice benefits the designers as designers work collectively with a variety of specialties and knowledge by exchanging their skills and responsibilities through the creative process to achieve an aim of acquiring an effective outcome in cooperation. Through every exchange between designers, the design is improved which affects the development of the final product through many shared individual viewpoints and expertness of diverse training. The final product will ultimately benefits the clients or community, which may also provide responses that allow designers to advance future products. Better products also mean better living conditions for individuals, strengthening the society as a whole.

Hayden supported these benefits of collaborative design as he stressed the importance of the design process over product. Sectarian groups were often constrained by leadership or religious beliefs and thus let the leader have absolute control over the design and were driven by prescribed standards rather than constructive ideas. Thus the design was fixed over time. A more interesting method is to leave the design dependable upon discussion and compromise, which not only improve the design but also strengthen a sense of community. I strongly agree with Hayden that design should be driven by perfectionism: “The route to perfection was usually adaptation, coaxing and developing ideas to fruition, building upon advances made by other members of the community.” A design created solely in the mind of one person is limited to a single perspective. Not allowing rooms for criticism means no chances for growth. While in a collaborative environment, the design process is also a learning process, which let individuals to adapt new point of view and constantly expand their experiences. Although the more people involved in the process, the more different opinions to be taken into accounts, which might slow down the design process, it is worthwhile to consider a positive outcome that is designed and filtered by collective thinking. I think collaborative design is most necessary in product and interaction design that requires not only a variety of disciplines such as engineering, business, sociology, and psychology altogether but also a organizational diverse structures of marketing, research, manufacturing, and prototyping. The products are to be tested many times by potential users in order to advance to their final states.

I have some questions developed on the context of the reading. While collaborative design is beneficial, it sometimes demand the designers to sacrifice personal artistic ideals in order to perfectly incorporate social, political and environmental implications in their design. What are your perspectives on this matter?

Secondly, do you think it is possible to achieve a perfect design that both satisfy the designer’s artistic ideals and social, political and environmental’s frame of reference? If no, why? If yes, some ideas on how to achieve this?