Collaborative designers: the value of nurturing truly collective voices

Lindy Richardson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Collaboration is a widely used buzz word interpreted across the sector loosely as working together. Collaboration is often fraught with tension and competition across departments, disciplines and even institutions. This paper seeks to evangelise those cynical about the benefits of true collaboration, or those struggling to convince students that collaboration may be a positive way forward.
There is some confusion between the terminology, collective, co-operative and collaborative. Collective describes individuals contributing towards a shared goal. Co-operative suggests individuals working together side by side towards a shared goal, whereas collaborative proposes participants fully integrated and sharing together in the development of the project towards the shared goal. Underpinned by case studies demonstrating differing approaches including cross cultural, multi- disciplinary, and an initiative bringing together glass, textiles and concrete; this paper identifies examples of collaboration, extrapolating the pros and cons of each project through analysis of student and staff feedback.
The focus on the learning experience of the participants rather than the product of the collaborative venture is retained throughout. Identifying appropriate partnerships for successful collaboration at the outset appears to be one essential element to success, and having sought out positive and mutually beneficial partners, cultivating these appears to be the key to the development and successful conclusions to projects. Highlighting the benefits of dual or multi authorship enhancing collective development of projects and ideas, as opposed to a group of experts each responsible for their own component within a collective venture working side by side. Collaboration is also presented as a positive and sometimes necessary component for innovation. The lone genius is generally a myth. Behind Thomas Edison the great inventor there were teams of innovators. It is the friction and the chemistry at the interface between creative minds which often provide the most innovative ideas and challenges. Apple continues to thrive without Steve Jobs who despite being a great visionary relied on his team and co-workers expertise alongside his own. McQueen continues without Lee, and the sooner our design students understand and recognise the benefits and relevance of nurturing healthy collaborative cultures and the roles and recognition of creative teams, the stronger our sector will become.
Healthy and mutually beneficial partnerships spawn from championing and celebrating the differences between individuals, massaging egos, and promoting mutual respect throughout the process through good communication between all parties. This paper seeks to demonstrate the lasting effects of a positive collaborative learning experiences and the understanding of the relevance of creating the foundations of meaningful networks during the educating of our future designers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventFuturescan: Collective Voices - Sheffield, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Jan 201311 Jan 2013


ConferenceFuturescan: Collective Voices
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Collaboration, education, authorship, inter disciplinarity.


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  • FTC,

    Lindy Richardson (Speaker)

    11 Jan 2013

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

  • EUSA inspiring teaching conference

    Lindy Richardson (Invited speaker)

    25 Jan 2012

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

  • Developing a Joint Language in Textiles

    Lindy Richardson (Organiser)


    Activity: Other activity typesOther

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