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Do It Yourself: Democracy and Design


The theme of this special issue arose from a perceived need to generate a discourse around the interface between ‘design’ taken as a function of the activity of ‘professional’ designers and being part of an established cycle of the design, production and consumption of goods; and ‘Do It Yourself’ taken as its antithesis—a more democratic design process of self-driven, self-directed amateur design and production activity carried out more closely to the end user of the goods created. Historically, productive and creative activities of this kind have allowed consumers to engage actively with design and the design process at a number of levels, and to express a more individual aesthetic unbounded by the strictures of mass-production and passive consumption. The agencies that have mediated this interface between design and DIY (the advice leaflets, manuals and guide books, exposition and retail catalogues, newspaper reports and magazines and later, radio and television programmes) are of particular interest here. They are often the only evidence of what, for many, has been a significant element of the fabric of their everyday life—the results of the activity itself, owing to their individual and personal nature, often disappearing without trace with the passing of time.


Author Paul Atkinson

Publisher Journal of Design History

Year 2006

Language English