The second wave of projects focused on creating technological alternatives. The UTOPIA project (Utbildning, Teknik, och Produkt I, Arbetskvvalitetsperspektiv) embraced the early 1980s with collaborative efforts between several Scandinavian research institutions and the Nordic Graphical Union. The UTOPIA project specifically addressed the need for alternative systems in the newspaper industry for page make-up and image processing. During the UTOPIA project, workers' had a real opportunity to influence what system is developed and how that system is designed. The PD method used for this particular industry was a "design-by-doing" approach that provided the easiest way to get graphical workers involved in the design process. This design-by-doing technique involved mock-ups and emulations of computer based working environments in a laboratory setting.
As systems designers work to create solutions to the problems in various industry workplaces, they must avoid the risk of creating new problems while solving one particular problem, usually for one work group within an organization. By moving towards a Participatory Design approach, designers may capitalize on the knowledge of the end-users, to gain a strong understanding of the real-world workplace in which the system will operate. A system is more likely to deliver a strong solution to workplace problems by adopting a Participatory Design approach that is appropriate for that industry because the problems to be solved are defined by parties within the organization rather than by entities outside of the organization.
Not only did the UTOPIA project produce a requirements specification for a computer system for graphical workers (developed in cooperation with graphical workers) but it also originated the "tool perspective," a design approach that held that a system should be a tool (a means of forming raw material into more refined products) for the skilled worker. The UTOPIA project concluded that workers can be empowered and can control work by controlling specialized tools that would require specific knowledge for use. For this paradigm to work to the advantage of workers, a collective would still need to be present to house and produce the professional knowledge needed by workers within its domain.
In retrospect, it seems that the UTOPIA project was still too narrow to lead to the sort of workplace change that PD should achieve because the UTOPIA project simply sought to protect the craftsmanship of one occupational group, graphics artists, while disregarding the voice of other workers in the newspaper industry that had less power (Bjerknes and Bratteteig) and just as much to lose with the introduction of a new system. Furthermore, the UTOPIA project failed to connect the design of the system to the real world work environment because all collaboration was done in a laboratory setting rather than the actual work facilities of the newspaper industry. Nonetheless, the UTOPIA project has inspired much subsequent research aimed at better defining the process of design as a cooperative effort.