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A form of Crowdsourcing, whereby companies appeal to outside experts and Lead Users in order to co-design products.

It can also happen without corporate approval. Examples of both types are given.


"The concept of co-design is directly related to co-creation. By co-design we refer to collective creativity as it is applied across the whole span of a design process. By these definitions, co-design is a specific instance of Co-Creation." (

Examples of corporate approved co-design

The examples are sourced from, itself taking many examples from

Core "co-design" based businesses

Companies build around the idea of letting customer design their own products:

"Over the past few years a number of businesses have given consumers the ability to design their own products. This goes beyond deciding on which options you want installed on your new car, or whether you want an extra gigabyte of memory installed in your new laptop. Companies have been built around user-designed products.

For example, allows users to use existing images, upload their own images, or import images from their accounts on sites such as flickr and facebook, and print these images on stickers, business cards, or notecards. The user designs everything but the sticker, business card, or notecard their design is printed on., an ongoing t-shirt competition, lets users submit t-shirt designs which the Threadless community can vote on for a period of seven days. The Threadless team picks t-shirts to be printed among the top scoring designs and sells these in their online shop. Not every user may get to wear his or her own design, but all the t-shirts are user-designed.

For sports apparel, Nike’s NIKEiD let’s users customize the colors and text of different models of shoes, clothes, bags, and wristwatches for themselves or their entire team. Prints and clothes aren’t the only things consumers can customize.

Mymuesli lets users mix their own breakfast cereal. After selecting a base mix, users can add their favorite dried fruits, nuts, and extras. These sites offer different levels of customization, from full design to altering the colors of existing products. No matter what the level of customization, the most important thing is getting users involved. None of these approaches would work without user involvement. And this is where simplicity pays off. The prospect of complex products largely designed by users is exciting, but it may be simple customized products such as business cards and breakfast cereals that cater to a larger number of users’ interests and needs, thereby attracting more users." (

Ongoing structured collaboration

Procter & Gamble's Connect + Develop


Launched "with the goal of having at least 50% of its new products derived from ideas generated by non-employee experts. Beside its own R&D employee base of 7,000, the company now has access to millions of potential innovators. The results so far? Everything from Swiffer Wet Jet, Olay Daily Facials, Crest Whitestrips & Night Effects to Mr. Clean Autodry, Kandoo baby wipes and Lipfinity. (Source: Tech Central Station, Industry Week.)

BMW Connected Drive


the BMW Customer Innovation Lab was BMW's first true CUSTOMER-MADE environment. Participants were handed an online tool-kit, helping them develop ideas and showing how the firm could take advantage of advances in telematics, online services and driver assistance systems. From the 1,000 customers who used the tool-kit, BMW chose 20 and invited them to meet its engineers in Munich.

Jones Soda Labels


Jones Soda has been letting its customers create 'custom soda labels' by submitting their own photos for a long time now (their label gallery now contains an astounding 285,285 pics); some of these are chosen as permanent, wide-distribution labels for Jones soda.

One-time experiments

Kaiser Beer, Brazil


In Brazil, Kaiser Beer embarked on a CUSTOMER-MADE adventure last year by asking their customers to co-create its Kaiser Novo Sabor: a new premium beer reflecting the opinions and personal taste preferences of more than 11,000 contributors in 130 cities across Brazil. The beer was an instant hit, with the initial 11,000 contributors eager to play the role of brand ambassador.

Design Contests

Core 77,


the industrial design site, teamed up with watch maker Timex for a global design competition called Timex2154: THE FUTURE OF TIME (celebrating Timex's 150th anniversary). Designers from more than 72 countries explored and visualized personal and portable timekeeping 150 years into the future, resulting in over 640 entries. Winners can still be viewed online, and in the Timex Museum.

Peugeot Concours Design


"The third Peugeot Concours Design was launched in September 2004 at the Paris Motor Show, and the final results were shown at the Geneva Motor Show last month. After aspiring car designers were asked to design the Peugeot of their dreams for the near future, 3,800 projects (compared with 2,800 in 2002 and 2,050 in 2000) were sent in, from 107(!) countries."

IKEA's "fiffigafolket" contest


"Asked amateur outsiders to send in clever designs for storing home media (hifi sets, TV, DVD etc) in the living room. Out of 5,000 ideas submitted, fourteen winners will be invited to IKEA headquarters for a workshop, and will receive EUR 2,500. More interestingly, the designs will actually get produced and end up in IKEA stores for all to see, buy and assemble."

Threadless T-Shirts


"Threadless, an ongoing t-shirt design competition urges users to submit shirt designs, which are put into the running to be scored for seven days. After those seven days, the highest scoring designs are chosen to be printed and sold in the shop section."

Examples of non-approved hacking of products

Sony's Portable PlayStation days after it hit the shelves Only days in the US this March; remix fanatics have added chat and TV to the device's functionalities, cleverly capitalizing on the PSP's WiFi connection and other built-in, semi-locked online capabilities.

Co-design as customization

  1. EvLove Intimates: lingerie
  2. Elemental Threads: handbags
  3. StyleShake: dresses
  4. Studio 28 Couture: dresses
  5. Inmod: duvets

More Information

  1. Co-Creation
  2. Where in the Design Process does Co-creation Happen?