The Icon 20/20 Designers: You 01.05.09

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That's right, we mean you. Your influence is going to transform design over the next decade - especially if you're a member of the general public, rather than a trained designer. Customisation is going to be one of the key aesthetic strands of the future design scene. One-size-fits-all manufacturing is philosophically out of fashion, and all the rhetoric is about giving consumers ways to tailor their products to form a closer relationship with them.

But that's nothing against the extraordinary way you're going to transform the way design works. The professional barriers to design are falling, network society is giving rise to an all-conquering cult of the amateur, and new technology is putting the power to manufacture into the hands of everyone with a computer. At, you can design and order your own flat-pack furniture - or buy designs contributed to by other users. On the website, 30,000 members are already creating and rating virtual interiors in a kind 
of decorating version of YouTube - and it's just had its first rapid-prototyping design competition. Meanwhile,, a site created by consumer goods giant Philips, will rapid-prototype designs submitted by users. If you fancy trying your hand at graphic design, "crowdsourcing" sites such as let you enter real competitions to design logos and graphic identities for real companies, who pay real money. Like a Myspace music star, the next design sensation could be an unknown, untrained, unemployed person sitting at a computer in a bedroom anywhere in the world. A creative boom of unprecedented scope and grandeur, or a tidal wave of dross? You decide.

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Adam Laycock



Justin McGuirk, Johanna Agerman, William Wiles, Anna Bates, Beatrice Galilee, Oliver Wainwright, Alex Pasternack, Matthew Barac, Sean Dodson


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