People’s empowerment in design process through product personalization for sustainability


Product personalization has potentials in prolonging product lifetimes through strengthening person-product relationship. While designing products for sustainability, the factors such as local production, maintenance, repair, re-use, upgrade, etc. also need to be considered. In this context, this study focuses on the ways of empowering people in the design process through product personalization at the local level, and the implications of this for product design for sustainability. The study adopts research through design approach and generative research is integrated into this methodology. The study consists of two main components which are the preliminary study and the generative research.

The preliminary study phase 1 and 2 explore the products personalized by people and the personalization process through semi-structured interviews and an online questionnaire conducted with people who personalize their products (e.g. furniture, electronics, etc.), respectively. In the generative research phase 1, a half-way lighting design exploration was developed and it was personalized by various participants in a design workshop and follow-up generative sessions. In the second and third phases of the generative research, two lighting design explorations were developed based on two diverse design scenarios, focusing on product personalization with the use of post-use materials and product personalization for practicing a craft skill, respectively. These were personalized by the participants addressed in these scenarios in the generative sessions. The study reveals the dimensions of personalization important for sustainability and their interrelationships, sustainable design considerations for product personalization, and the ways of incorporating product personalization into design research for people's empowerment.



Doctorate type


Year of completion


Case study type

Research through design

Institution details

Faculty of Architecture / Department of Industrial Design

Industrial Design