Cindy Kohtala

Cindy Kohtala
Umeå University | UMU · Umeå Institute of Design

Doctor of Arts

About

43
Publications
28,182
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
1,362
Citations
Citations since 2016
31 Research Items
1277 Citations
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
Introduction
I am interested in grassroots participation: how active people engage themselves in sustainability concerns and how they encourage wider publics to materially participate in locally relevant and socially good design and production. I study technology subcultures involved in open design, open hardware, maker culture, hacking and shared community technology workshops (e.g. fab labs), in industrial transition. I position my work within design research and Science & Technology Studies (STS).
Additional affiliations
March 2016 - December 2021
Aalto University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
January 2012 - March 2016
Aalto University
Position
  • PhD Student
Education
September 1996 - December 1999
University of Art and Design Helsinki
University of Art and Design Helsinki
Field of study

Publications

Publications (43)
Book
Full-text available
This open access book introduces design for Sustainable Product-Service Systems (S.PSS) and for Sustainable Distributed Economies (S.DE). These are introduced as technical and operative tools for the development of a new generation of designers, responsible and capable of designing environmentally-sustainable products. The book provides a comprehen...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter presents Distributed Economies (DE) as a promising model for locally-based sustainability. DE consist of small-scale value-adding units (e.g. manufacturing, energy generation, food production, water management, software development, knowledge generation) where there is a shift in the control of core activities towards the user/client.
Chapter
Full-text available
Contemporary challenges related to sustainability are shared across the globe. Their materializations, prioritizations and emphases, however, vary from one region to another. This chapter shares the experiences from LeNSin project seminars and pilot courses and discusses the potential of design education as a transdisciplinary matchmaker between va...
Article
Full-text available
This is a landmark publication for the field of design. It was catalysed by unprecedented circumstances, as designers around the world had to rapidly deploy their competencies in strategic problem-solving to help humanity in the fight against an invisible enemy during a global pandemic. In alliance with other disciplines, from medicine to mechanica...
Article
In recent years we have witnessed an emergence of various do-it-yourself (DIY) activities in urban spaces. This article aims to shed light on these DIY activities in Helsinki, particularly within the textile and garment sector. Six DIY groups were selected, their organizers interviewed, and their respective activities were examined. The aims of thi...
Article
Full-text available
Experiments are deemed not only useful, but necessary in sustainability transformation to enhance local decision-making. This is especially apparent in Finland where national government programmes and city administrations promote sustainability experimentation and bottom-up initiatives in the interest of equitable participation. At the same time, u...
Chapter
Materialist Activist Communities (MACs) concern themselves with material flows in a politically engaged form of maker culture. They speculate, design and make collectively, with a marked environmental orientation, often developing impossible forms of bio-hacking and bio-art. The futures animating them grow out of technoscientific and mundane presen...
Article
Full-text available
This is a landmark publication for the field of design. It was catalysed by unprecedented circumstances, as designers around the world had to rapidly deploy their competencies in strategic problem-solving to help humanity in the fight against an invisible enemy during a global pandemic. In alliance with other disciplines, from medicine to mechanica...
Article
Full-text available
Collaborative arrangements between users and designers today are enacted in a broadening array of circumstances. These include extended, even years-long projects within corporations, the public and third sectors, as well as open-ended, peer-to-peer open design initiatives. Building on a literature review and analysis of four concrete participatory...
Article
Full-text available
Eco-oriented makers and grassroots subcultures experimenting with digital fabrication technologies, and other activists designing sustainable futures, are increasingly the subject of research. As they address problems of environmental sustainability beyond institutional contexts, their work may appear vague, even confused, yet their activities are...
Article
Full-text available
Eco-oriented makers and grassroots subcultures experimenting with new technologies and ways to design sustainable futures are increasingly the subject of research. As activists address problems of environmental sustainability beyond institutional contexts, their work may appear vague, even confused, yet their activities are underpinned by intense a...
Article
Full-text available
People not only purchase and use products and services, but creatively appropriate, hack, redesign and even innovate in them. Typologies of active use have emerged in various disciplines, remaining piecemeal even if complementary. Together they produce a blurry depiction of active design engagement, despite active use being pivotal to many emerging...
Chapter
Full-text available
open access: https://networkcultures.org/blog/publication/the-critical-makers-reader-unlearning-technology/
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Despite claims to being counterculture and a better alternative, grassroots activist design groups and free culture movements may replicate the marginalizing behaviours of dominant society, also in their governance and designs of their interaction platforms. We developed a code-of-conduct, or Community Guidelines, for our online commons-oriented gr...
Article
Full-text available
OPEN ACCESS: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07370024.2019.1574225. This study reports on the results of a systematic literature review on ‘open design’ in academic fields including and beyond design and HCI. The review investigates how studies are framed as open design and open-source design (including ‘open hardware’): how researche...
Article
Full-text available
FabLabs can be studied as a technology- and product-oriented movement. In this study we review material objects in European FabLabs as sociomateriality that represents and embodies the ways FabLabs are institutionalising. This refers to FabLabs’ relationships with incumbent institutions and how they impact the formation of norms and routines intern...
Book
Full-text available
Este livro apresenta os fundamentos de PSS e foi produzido de forma colaborativa e em licença aberta por diversos professores do Brasil e exterior dentro da LeNS - Learning Network on Sustainability (Carlo Vezzoli, Cindy Kohtala, Amrit Srinivasa with J.C. Diehl,Sompit Moi Fusakul, Liu Xin, Deepta Sateesh, Aguinaldo dos Santos, Liliane Iten Chaves,...
Chapter
see https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260831608_Product-Service_System_Design_for_Sustainability
Chapter
see https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260831608_Product-Service_System_Design_for_Sustainability
Chapter
see https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260831608_Product-Service_System_Design_for_Sustainability
Chapter
see see https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260831608_Product-Service_System_Design_for_Sustainability
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents a case study where the early stage of multidisciplinary collaboration is investigated. In the studied case designers work together with material scientists, market experts and the manufacturing industry to develop new textile fibres from waste using novel innovations in chemical recycling. The studied project is defined to be de...
Article
Full-text available
Fab Labs, fabrication laboratories, are shared workshops where citizens can access digital fabrication equipment to design and make their own objects. They are proliferating rapidly and represent an alternative to mass production and consumption, an ideology whose environmental and social benefits their “makers” like to espouse. A longitudinal ethn...
Thesis
Full-text available
Digital manufacturing technologies are proliferating and can enable socially significant, innovative new forms of production and consumption. This thesis examines the environmental sustainability issues in peer production and how they are addressed in Fab Labs (fabrication laboratories): shared spaces where users can design and make their own artef...
Chapter
Full-text available
Once upon a time, a little greenhouse nestled in Helsinki's most notorious urban wasteland. It signalled a new urban culture: activists doing their thing and the city letting them do it. Eventually a somewhat erratic tolerance for the informal became part of the city's brand: a creative, happy, citizen-led metropolis. Meanwhile bland business build...
Chapter
Full-text available
Book's Introduction. What is Helsinki’s future and are there alternatives? This book is written by professionals who love Helsinki. Each writer has chosen an element of the city that has inspired delight, disgust, sorrow or enthusiasm. The book looks not only at the pasts of the Finnish capital but at what its future might be. Could vacant office...
Article
Full-text available
Sustainable Product-Service Systems (S.PSS) carry great potential to deliver social well-being and economic prosperity while operating within the limits of our planet. They can however be complex to design, test, implement and bring to the mainstream. To increase our understanding of the potential benefits, drivers and barriers in S.PSS design, the...
Book
What is Helsinki's future and are there alternatives? This book is written by professionals who love Helsinki. Each writer has chosen an element of the city that has inspired delight, disgust, sorrow or enthusiasm. The book looks not only at the pasts of the Finnish capital but at what its future might be. Could vacant office space be transformed...
Article
Full-text available
Maker spaces and maker activities offering access to low-cost digital fabrication equipment are rapidly proliferating, evolving phenomena at the interface of lay and professional design. They also come in many varieties and change fast, presenting a difficult target for, for instance, public authorities, who would like to cater for them but operate...
Article
Full-text available
MIT-Fablab Norway was one of the first Fab Labs ever established, in northern Norway in 2002. Despite this auspicious beginning to a network that is rapidly growing, surprisingly little has been written about the genesis of the network or the Fab Lab itself. We therefore aim to contribute to this knowledge gap with a narrative account of our indepe...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents a narrative case study describing interactions in one Fab Lab in Helsinki, Finland. The intent is to reveal how (or if) sustainability concerns are socially shaped within an organization in the same way participatory innovation can be shaped. The contribution of the paper is two-fold. First, it augments understanding of environm...
Article
Full-text available
The pressure of human beings on the environment has profoundly modified natural systems, and today the planet is reaching its limits in the capacity of assimilating environmental effects caused by anthropic activities. In the last few decades the reaction of humankind to sustainability problems has produced a series of approaches that has gone from...

Questions

Questions (2)
Question
Do you know the concept? What does it mean to you locally? Do you use other concepts instead? What can design and designers do to foster more sustainable Distributed-Economies-type product-service systems?

Network

Cited By

Projects

Projects (4)
Project
Project
Exploring and mapping the contributions of the Design discipline in facing the 2019-2020 COVID-19 emergency. Monitoring best practices as well as providing original contributions linking Design studies and emergency scenarios.
Project
Activist groups of makers globally are experimenting with innovative ways to design and make artefacts collaboratively outside of conventional mass production and consumption. This research project examines both global technocultural histories, and current practices of DIY digital-physical making in Finland and northern Europe. The aim is to identify alternative pathways for production in post-industrial societies that may be more environmentally and socially sustainable.