portrait of Cindy Kohtala


Dr Cindy Kohtala’s research focuses on grassroots innovation communities experimenting with hacking, digital-physical ‘making’ and localizing production. Her ethnographically informed studies focus especially on fab labs, makerspaces, hacklabs and other niche spaces mainly in northern European cities. She positions her research in Science & Technology Studies foregrounding design and socio-environmental sustainability.

BIO (long)

Dr Cindy Kohtala is currently Postdoctoral Researcher at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Design, Finland. She studies DIY makers who design, make, invent and innovate in shared community technology workshops (fab labs, makerspaces, hacklabs and other niche spaces). Her research is positioned in Science & Technology Studies foregrounding design, values-in-design and socio-environmental sustainability. She particularly examines makers’ techno-utopian imaginaries in enacting a ‘new industrial revolution’, how makers self-organize and try to localize production, and how activists materially collaborate on sustainability issues at the grassroots. She is thus interested in feminist, postcolonial, postcapitalist, socialist and justice-oriented perspectives that seek to re-politicize peer production, maker culture and the sharing economy to reveal how power is held and distributed. Kohtala also lectures and writes about design-for-sustainability, Product-Service System design, open design, co-design, distributed economies and design activism, and she has been involved in several urban activism initiatives in Helsinki.