CoDesign is a consultancy that organizes and facilitates collaborative projects between marginalized communities and post secondary design students.These projects produce tangible objects/products that directly benefit the participating community.
Codesign started in 2010 to provide new opportunities to design educators and social service agencies. For educators, projects that provide real world experience as well as an opportunity to design for social good are challenging to find, organize and deliver. For social service agencies, the opportunity to provide customized products for the community they serve in a way that engages that community, requires experience in designing, making and community facilitation, a unique triad of skills.
The projects take form when Codesign connects the needs of a community agency with a post secondary program that can meet those needs within curriculum guidelines. The big picture gets set by the agency, the educators and Codesign but the design and development take off once the students and the community members start to collaborate.
The students effectively replace the “experts” in the design process which in turn dramatically affects the power balance between provider and recipient – the students and community members now become both providers and recipients. The students receive real world experience (provided by the community) and provide highly resolved products (to be used by the community).
Design process underlies every step and gives both the students and community members a chance to learn and practice those skills, a self empowering step for all.
Connie Chisholm is the principal of CoDesign. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and worked in medical research before attendeding Sheridan College’s Furniture program in The School of Craft and Design from 1993-1996. Since then she has worked for eighteen years as a self- employed furniture designer/maker and currently teaches design and craftsmanship at Sheridan College and OCAD University. Connie started CoDesign in 2010.