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Co-creating a product with a story

Written by Marina van Dieren, Makers Unite

At the core of Makers Unite lies the principle of human centered design—a way of working that involves the human perspective in all steps of the process. This means that all stakeholders are involved in the process, particularly the end user, who is also the designer that is most familiar with the product.  At Makers Unite, this way of co-designing products is used to spark creativity, build trust, and in the end, create a valuable product. 

Facilitating two co-creation workshops, Makers Unite and CRISALIS aim to design a fashion product that will be developed, produced, and eventually sold in stores. This product will represent the course of CRISALIS and the creative path the participants have undertaken. The product can be used as a tool to spark a conversation about CRISALIS and all that CRISALIS stands for.

But what does CRISALIS exactly stand for? This key question was also incorporated in the co-creation workshops.

The first workshop took place at the headquarters of Progetto Quid in Verona.  Five participants of CRISALIS were excused from their daily tasks to work on the development of the new product through this workshop. The day kicked off with a round of getting to know each other. The first exercise was going through our own bags and finding items that would reveal something about ourselves. Since the theme of the day would be creating a product with a story, it was nice to see if we ourselves carry products with a story. What might seem like a regular daily object to yourself could potentially tell others a lot about your personality.

After everyone has introduced themselves using an object from their bag, we continued to the main objective of the workshop. The technique we used in creation was draping, a way to do rapid prototyping in fashion. Most fashion designers start their designing process this way, letting their thoughts run and have complete creative freedom. With draping, you use sheets of fabric and by working with pins, you can mold shapes on a mannequin or on your own body. We worked in rounds of five, ten, and fifteen minutes to boost creativity. At the end of the day, we looked at all our ideas together and selected what was to be shown to the Amsterdam team who would carry the ideas on from there. 

In Amsterdam, we hosted a similar workshop at the Makers Unite studio. Having five participants as well, we once again planned for the creation of the product. With the knowledge gained during the workshop in Verona, the workshop in Amsterdam was similar but different. Just like before, we started the day with a round of getting to know each other through the things we carry in our bags. We learned surprising stories about all the participants. This time, the workshop had more guidance wherein some specific items were required to be created, such as a bag, a coat, and a dress. We worked with different materials, some stiff, some flowy. This gave the participants the freedom to cut the fabric as they are now working with more playful materials. Michelle van de Griend, a fashion designer and illustrator from Makers Unite, joined the session to translate the draping into drawing. Adding details and creating illustrations of items proves that they have a lot of potential to be sold!  

At the end of the day, we looked at the designs all together and we found that there are fabrics and key ideas that are important to incorporate in the product. From here, our next step is handing over all input to the design team of Progetto Quid and see where they take it.

Overall, the co-creation of a product always shows new insights and brings unknown creativity to light. The process will now continue with working back and forth between the teams in Verona and Amsterdam, to ensure the product is touched by all the hands in the team. 

Photographs: Makers Unite, Solomon and Sylvia Kouveli Photography

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