Professional designers often disregard users’ design agency. Negating the power of “lay-designers,” thus, is arguably at the cost of the relevance of a final design to those whom are intended to use it. This is nowhere more evident than in so-called “developing” contexts where people have always been driven to design and innovate due to inequality, poverty, and unmet needs. Through an exploration of exceptional examples of grassroots innovation, this paper argues for expert designers to shift their gaze and align their skills to amplify the efforts of lay-designers, in order to result in more sustainable and appropriate change.
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