Dimeji Onafuwa

Dimeji Onafuwa

Design-Enabled Recommoning

PhD in Transition Design

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 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” (ref. David Bollier) through organic and indescribable relationships.


Design and Culture Journal - Allies and Decoloniality: A review of intersectional perspectives on design, politics and power symposium

Google Span 2017 Conference (Pittsburgh, PA) - Speaker

NORDES 2017 Conference - Design + Power (Oslo, Norway): "Design Allyship and Decoloniality" Conversation & Workshop with Jabe Bloom

Intersectional Perspectives on Design, Politics & Power (Malmo Sweden): Allyship & Decoloniality

Design Research Society 2016 Conference (Brighton UK): Conversations - "Design & Symbolic Violence"

PhD By Design 2016 Conference: Session Chair & Workshop co-organizer on Alternative Economies


Nov 2016 - Friendtorship workshop in Portland communities at Portland State University 

Nov 2016 - Invited speaker, By Design or By Disaster - Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy 

June 2016 - Session Chair, PhD by Design Conference at DRS

Jan 2016 - Creative Agitator, Sustainability Traceability Lab with Future of Fish, Seattle WA


Feb 2017 - Collaborator, Invisibility in Urban Commons, Parsons, The New School

Oct 2016 - Priviledge Participation: Allying with Decoloniality with Jabe Bloom and Teju Cole

Feb 2016 - Northside Homeownership Workshop in Northside, Pittsburgh PA


Applied Innovation Fellowship with GTECH Strategies, Pittsburgh PA. - 2014


Buhl Foundation Grant (joint-funded research) - 2015

Traffic 21 Grant (jointly-funded research) - 2014