In a quest to make user-generated manufacturing a reality, Kohei Nishiyama launched a Web site where independent designers can initiate production of an item when orders reach a break-even point. Then, using a similar site that Nishiyama created with retailer Muji, a college student with no design background created a best seller–transparent sticky notes–by integrating user criticism of her concept. “The design process,” Nishiyama says, “is no longer limited to professionals.” Last November, his firm started a site for Lego that lets consumers post photos and market their own designs; if their concepts are manufactured into kits, they’ll get 1% of revenue. — by Anne C. Lee
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