The stereotypical designer - passionately authentic, famously unbending and always in black - is newly vulnerable to the interference of amateurs. The hard-won tryst between designer, manufacturer and intellectual property rights, likewise, has few defences against the open-source spirit and an internet wherein no secrets are hid. The brave ones embrace it. While cheerful design jam-sessions of professional and amateur go on in cities and design festivals all over the developed world, nothing changes in the favelas and rural villages where necessity has always been the mother of invention.
Hacking is the interference in, or corruption of, the authorship of designers and manufacturers, usually by amateurs. It happens right there in the space between the professional and the ordinary citizen that the is interested in. So we asked Scott Burnham: is design-hacking merely an introverted chapter in the history of design, or does it reveal civic ingenuity and resourcefulness that a century and a half of industrially-fed consumerism have masked? His answer persuasively describes the evolution of hacking from the digital to the analogue world and thence, with pregnant illustration, into the civic realm of streets and municipal regulations.
After 30 odd years in the global design industry opening doors to new and frontier markets through exploratory user research, concept design, and innovation strategies, Niti returned to academia as a student to pursue a PhD in Product Development at Aalto University's Design Factory. Her dissertation looks at the contribution of design methods to foster agency and capacity for innovation as a resilience strategy to shocks at the micro-level of the individual. Her research approach has expanded the multidisciplinary lens of viability, feasibility, and desirability to a transdisciplinary one where participants generate the actionable knowledge for their own innovation pathways.