Democratizing Design or Devaluing Design?
Tao Huang, IDSA | Columbia College Chicago
In the past decade, a wave of “Rogue Design” has swept Mainland China. To
disguise copyright infringement, some mid‐ to small‐size Chinese manufacturers hire local
designers to add new design elements to their products when “borrowing” from
international brands. This type of design is known as “Rogue Design.” Recent development
of Rogue Design reveals surprising new characteristics: these products are deeply rooted in
Chinese aesthetics and sometimes provide more functions and design choices than the
originals. It seems that this trend symbolizes a democratic process in design by making
design accessible to all consumers. But does Rogue Design help democratizing design or in
fact, devaluing design? This paper conducts an ethnographic tour to examine this social and
design phenomenon to challenge artists and designers to rethink “democratic design” and
its manifestation as do‐it‐yourself (DIY).