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Cindy Kohtala

Professor in Design for Sustainability. Programme director, MFA in Interaction Design. Research interest in grassroots participatory processes exploring sustainability and localizing design.



Works at


Dr Cindy Kohtala is Professor in Design for Sustainability at the Umeå Institute of Design and programme director of the MFA Interaction Design programme. Her research bridges Design Research and Science & Technology Studies (STS). She is interested in how active citizens experiment with sustainability hands-on and materially, whether through hacking and making in fab labs and makerspaces, citizen science, urban activist projects, or other grassroots initiatives aimed at local knowledge sharing and empowerment. She studies industrial transition at the local scale: the stories we create about localizing design, technology and production and the emerging practices around peer-to-peer participation. She examines how activists build infrastructures for alternative ways to produce and consume and how they involve wider publics in imagining and enacting alternative sustainability futures. In UmArts she explores ways researchers, designers, crafters and activists can collaborate on knowledge-making in sustainability transformation using design-led methods.

Journal of Innovation Economics & Management, Cairn 2024, Vol. 43, (1) : 103-129
Thomas, Laetitia; Pistofidou, Anastasia; Troxler, Peter; et al.
Commons in Design conference, Basel, Switzerland, February 15-17, 2023
Prendeville, Sharon; Kohtala, Cindy
Commons in design, Amsterdam: Valiz 2023 : 181-200
Prendeville, Sharon; Kohtala, Cindy
IASDR2023: Life changing design: Introduction papers
Vezzoli, Carlo; Kohtala, Cindy; Rognoli, Valentina; et al.
IASDR 2023: Life-changing design: Full papers
Özçelik, Ayşegül; Kohtala, Cindy; Löchtefeld, Markus
Local Environment: the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability
Hector, Philip; Kohtala, Cindy
In search of lost futures: anthropological explorations in multimodality, deep interdisciplinarity, and autoethnography, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan 2021 : 151-172
Berglund, Eeva; Kohtala, Cindy
Strategic Design Research Journal, University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos - Unisinos 2021, Vol. 14, (1) : 1-18
Rossi, Emilio; Di Nicolantonio, Massimo; Ceschin, Fabrizio; et al.
Lecture Notes in Mechanical Engineering
Vezzoli, Carlo; Garcia Parra, Brenda; Kohtala, Cindy
Science & Technology Studies, Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies 2020, Vol. 33, (2) : 102-119
Berglund, Eeva; Kohtala, Cindy
International Journal of Design, Vol. 14, (2) : 17-34
Botero, Andrea; Hyysalo, Sampsa; Kohtala, Cindy; et al.
Digital Culture & Society, Transcript Verlag 2020, Vol. 6, (1) : 135-151
Holm, Felix; Stassen, Suné; Kohtala, Cindy; et al.
Digital Culture & Society, Transcript Verlag 2020, Vol. 6, (1) : 5-33
Kohtala, Cindy; Boeva, Yana; Troxler, Peter
Design Studies, Elsevier 2020, Vol. 67 : 27-54
Kohtala, Cindy; Hyysalo, Sampsa; Whalen, Jack
Strategic Design Research Journal, University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos - Unisinos 2020, Vol. 13, (3) : 294-311
Rossi, Emilio; Di Nicolantonio, Massimo; Ceschin, Fabrizio; et al.
Human-Computer Interaction, Vol. 34, (5-6) : 389-432
Bakırlıoğlu, Yekta; Kohtala, Cindy
Proceedings of the 8th bi-annual Nordic design research society conference - who cares? 2-4th of June 2019 Finland
Kohtala, Cindy; Walls, Jedediah
Journal of Peer Production, Vol. 12 : 92-110
Kohtala, Cindy
The Design Journal, Routledge 2016, Vol. 20, (3) : 375-394
Kohtala, Cindy
Journal of Cleaner Production, Elsevier 2015, Vol. 106 : 654-668
Kohtala, Cindy
Journal of Cleaner Production, Elsevier 2015, Vol. 99 : 333-344
Kohtala, Cindy; Hyysalo, Sampsa
Journal of Cleaner Production, Elsevier 2015, Vol. 97 : 1-12
Vezzoli, Carlo; Ceschin, Fabrizio; Diehl, Jan Carel; et al.
CoDesign - International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, Taylor & Francis Group 2014, Vol. 10, (3-4) : 209-228
Hyysalo, Sampsa; Kohtala, Cindy; Helminen, Pia; et al.
Journal of Peer Production, Vol. 5
Kohtala, Cindy; Bosqué, Camille
Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing Ltd 2014
Vezzoli, Carlo; Kohtala, Cindy; Srinivasan, Amrit; et al.

Research projects

1 March 2023
1 January 2023 until 31 December 2023
1 September 2019 until 31 August 2025

Dr Kohtala has taught design and research courses at Bachelor's, Master's and PhD levels. She is Programme Director of the MFA Interaction Design programme. She lectures and writes about design-for-sustainability, Product-Service System (PSS) design, open design, co-design, distributed economies, maker culture and design activism, for academic, practitioner and general public audiences. She is an active member of the international LeNS (Learning Network for Sustainability) network and the design-for-sustainability network o2 Global.
Kohtala has been a guest teacher in Design-for-Sustainability courses in Mexico, China and India (Bachelor's and Master's) and gives lectures internationally. She was actively involved in Aalto University's Creative Sustainability Master's Programme (Department of Design, Finland).

Teaching resources, selected
Designing Sustainability for All (open access, co-editor. Output of LeNSin project 2015-2019 (Learning Network on Sustainability International, Erasmus+, coordinator Carlo Vezzoli)
Product-Service System Design for Sustainability, co-author. Output of LeNS project project 2008-2010 (AsiaLink, coordinator Carlo Vezzoli)
Creative Communities, contributor. Output of EMUDE (Emerging User Demands for Sustainable Solutions, 2004-06, coordinator Ezio Manzini)