Liz Sanders at IIT Design Research Conference 2008

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Co-Creation and the New Landscapes of Design

There has been significant interest lately from the business community in the value of design research and design thinking. This is particularly true in the early front end of the design process. Liz will present a map of the design research landscape as it has emerged over the last 20 years and then focus on the newest developments on the map with an emphasis on design-led approaches to design research. She will describe a generative design language that can be used to facilitate collective thinking, making and telling between designers and non-designers. Liz will show how generative tools can be used to fill the fuzzy front end with the ideas, dreams and insights of the people we serve through design.

Co-creation at the front end of the design process is an alternative way of seeing and being in the world. Existing and thriving in the emerging co-creative landscapes of design will require companies to have new attitudes and mindsets about the people formerly known as "customers" as well as broader perspectives on the meaning of "value". It will also demand that the new tools and methods for connecting, innovating, making, telling and sharing be used within organizational cultures that support new worldviews.


Liz Sanders is the founder of MakeTools, a company that explores new spaces in the emerging design research landscape. She is a visionary in applied design research, having introduced many of the tools, techniques and methods being used today to drive and/or inspire design from a human-centered perspective. Liz has practiced across all the design disciplines. Her current focus is on bringing participatory, human-centered design thinking to the planning and architectural design process.

Liz speaks about and offers learning experiences in human-centered design research and innovation for clients, colleagues and students around the world. Her client relationships have included 3M, AT&T, Apple, Baxter, Coca Cola, Compaq, IBM, Intel, Iomega, Johnson Controls, Kodak, Microsoft, Motorola, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Roche Diagnostics, Siemens Medical Systems, Steelcase, Texas Instruments, Thermos, Thomson Consumer Electronics, Toro, and Xerox. Liz is currently engaged in teaching and/or research relationships with design faculty and students at The Ohio State University, Carnegie Mellon University, College for Creative Studies, Emily Carr Institute (Vancouver, BC), Delft University of Technology (Delft, the Netherlands), The University of Dundee (Dundee, Scotland) and Danmarks Designskole (Copenhagen, Denmark). Liz has a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology and a B.A. in both Psychology and in Anthropology.

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