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We Can Make It If We Try

Scenarios for design democracy

Onomatopee 81


With: Maurice Meewisse (June - July 2012), Julien Carretero (Dutch Design Week 2012),  Gijs Gieskes, (November - December 2012) and Bjorn Andreassen (January - February 2013).


Has the consumer displaced the designer, or is the idea of ’open design’ just an illusion? Has the wide availability of knowledge and information, small-scale industrial applications, simplified tools and computer applications led to the obsolescence of the (design) expert? Who then is the designer: the amateur or the expert? The boundaries are certainly fading – so what makes these particular designers distinctive and to what could that be attributed?

According to activist and ex-Silicon Valley IT specialist Andrew Keen, ’Today’s audience isn’t listening at all, it’s participating’. He already noted signs of decay in the relationship between the expert and the amateur years ago. If anybody indeed could be a designer, this would entail a significant transformation in the profession: in the fifties of the last century the designer was a sign of good taste, from the nineties to the start of the millennium the ‘star-designer’ flourished. Now the designer has been degraded to a functional mediator between system and consumer in favour of the system – his client.

This should result in, or at least suggest, the idea that design democratizes (as does expertise in general). The consumer-amateur appears to take the lead, and as such, the individual – as consumer and producer – will be responsible for the success and appearance of our society. Looking at it positively, we could say that the people are becoming emancipated, that the private sector has finally incorporated a democratic decision-making model, but on the downside we could wonder if this isn’t occurring at the expense of quality – most crowd-sourcing experiments fail to elicit results owing to a lack of framework and leadership. To what degree does this responsibility contribute to a ‘true’ design, capable of recognizing the complexity of these questions?

We Can Make It If We Try wants to discuss role as designers. Four designers present production possibilities and tools that demand our input. The effectiveness of these structures, what we can do with them, that is up to you…


Onomatopee 81, Ellen Zoete, 2012

We Can Make It If We Try

various designers and critics on makers-culture

€ 10

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Can you do it, if you set it yourself? Along four of the best young practitioners in Dutch design activating our maker’s culture, this is an exploration of what we can do when we start imagining. Four designers present production possibilities and tools that demand our input. We speculate alongside them with various invited on the simple question of what we can do ourselves, how this works and what might happen. This both fancy as useful pocketsize reader both serves as a reader featuring scenarios on how to organize yourself as it contains manuals to start producing.

Has the consumer displaced the designer? The boundaries are certainly fading…

Have the wide availability of knowledge and information, small-scale industrial applications and simplified tools led to the obsolescence of the (design) expert?

We Can Make It If We Try discusses four attitudes / lineages towards current design practises. Nostalgia, small-scale production, customisation of (digital) tools and activism.


Chief editor: Ellen Zoete
With: Maurice MeewisseJulien Carretero,  Gijs Gieskes and Bjorn Andreassen.
Graphic design: Timon van der Hijden & Yorit Kluitman
Texts: Catherine Geel, Rogier Koedijk, Robert Urquhart, Peter Troxler and Ellen Zoete
Made possible by: Fonds Cultuur Participatie, Municipality of Eindhoven

17 x 12 cm / 7 x 5 inch 
Ellen Zoete
Timon van der Hijden, Yorit Kluitman
Maxioffset 300 gr. (cover) and 140 gr. (inside pages)
Double-sided black + 1 PMS
Lecturis, Eindhoven (NL)
Ellen Zoete
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