Participatory design (PD) has become increasingly engaged in public spheres and everyday life and is no longer solely concerned with the workplace. This is not only a shift from work-oriented productive activities to leisure and pleasurable engagements, but also a new milieu for production and ‘innovation’. What ‘democratic innovation’ entails is often currently defined by management and innovation research, which claims that innovation has been democratised through easy access to production tools and lead-users as the new experts driving innovation. We sketch an alternative ‘innovation’ practice more in line with the original visions of PD based on our experience of running Malmo¨ Living Labs – an open innovation milieu where new constellations, issues and ideas evolve from bottom–up long-term collaborations among diverse stakeholders. Three cases and controversial matters of concern are discussed. The fruitfulness of the concepts ‘agonistic public spaces’ (as opposed to consensual decision-making), ‘thinging’ and ‘infrastructuring’ (as opposed to projects) are explored in relation to democracy, innovation and other future-making practices.