About Dimeji Onafuwa


I am a designer, researcher and consultant. Prior to my Phd research, I owned a communication design studio for almost a decade.

At CMU, my research seeks to understand the impact of cooperative platforms on contributing to the “new commons.” To accomplish this, I design tools collectives use to “recommon” resources that are vital to their survival. A practice-based interpretation of my work is: “How might Elinor Ostrom’s design principles of commoning serve as a foundation for new approaches to user experience on platforms?” 

See my of tools & prompts here

Elinor Ostrom’s principles are however not as easily observable in the “new commons” which are outside the purview of traditional commons. Recommoning refers to design-enabled reclaiming of the new commons.  The “new commons” are commons without pre-existing rules or explicit agreements. Their imperative is to address significant social dilemmas. Commons are always in a state of unclaiming and reclaiming, and recommoning allows us to expand Ostrom’s ideas to new sectors. One of the sectors I am exploring is tenancy. I worked on a jointly-funded research project with Human Computer Interaction Institute at CMU to explore multi-stakeholder interactions around tenant/landlord decision making, and observed pre-existing communities in renters.

Recently, I am looking at Christopher Alexander’s work on pattern languages by investigating how patterns may reveal emerging commoning relationships. Patterns allow us to explore “natural and cultural structures and processes” through organic and indescribable relationships.

(ref. David Bollier)