The Digital Bespoke? : Promises and Pitfalls of Mass Customization book cover
1st Edition

The Digital Bespoke?
Promises and Pitfalls of Mass Customization

ISBN 9780367221294
Published November 30, 2021 by Routledge
182 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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USD $160.00

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Book Description

The Digital Bespoke? is about mass customization, 3D printing, human bodies, and the step towards digitally built objects made to individual specifications. The author argues that the modes of customization offered by digital fabrication and mass production have more in common with their industrial predecessors than with craft-based customization.

Using case studies of historical and current practices from Europe, Africa, and North America to ground her theory, she investigates where digital fabrication technologies have developed from and how their uses differ from existing modes of production. Digital fabrication and mass customization are concepts encompassing broad ecosystems of technologies and practices. Both are increasingly implemented and hyped. As such, it is imperative to address not just their potential, but their challenges.

Written for a scholarly audience and for design practitioners concerned with the social and political impacts of digital fabrication and mass customization, this book will be a useful reference point for students and researchers in digital and analogue design, technology, and material culture.

Table of Contents


List of illustrations


1. The map, the territory, and the jeans

2. Definitions

3. A known customer

4. The tailor online

5. Interfaces between bodies and standards

6. Mission control and other considerations

7. The role of the user in custom goods

8. Labour, bodies, infrastructure

9. Conclusion/Future


Appendix one: Glossary

Appendix two: Configurator walk-throughs

Appendix three: Interview guide from Toronto-phase 3D PrintAbility interviews


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A researcher, educator, and designer, ginger "all-lower-case" coons studies and intervenes in the intersections of individuality, mass standards, and new production technologies. She is interested in the place of the user in the production process, and how individuals take control of the goods they use. She holds a BFA in design from Concordia University (Montreal, Canada), and an MI and PhD in information from the University of Toronto. She has been a member of the Critical Making Lab (Toronto, Canada) and the Digital Cultures Research Centre (Bristol, UK), and is now a Principal Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.