Hi, My name is Aditya, i am a 1st year PhD student at the Umea Institute of design. I title my presentation - Dialectic futures, where the assumption is that all futures are in a process of negotiation. The projects are selected to fit the seminars theme of ’interventionist speculation’ and consist of past and ongoing projects. The works presented may not be your classical design or anthropology, but somewhere in between.
My PhD study is influenced by the RED paper by Colin Burns, Hilary Cottam, Chris Vanstone on ‘transformation design’ which is a theme later on taken up by Daniela Sangiorgi where she writes about transformative services.
I understand ‘transformative design’ to be a co-production exercise with a community of practice (CoP) over a social concern. My endeavour is to understand and develop practices to inhabit this space.
The projects in the following slides are presented categorised in 3 sections… Critical future: Design/ urban acts for provoking disconcertment Persuasive futures: Design that relates to behavioural change or nudging Collaborative futures: Design through co-production practices
This is not in any way a taxonomy, but simply an attempt to differentiate the projects from one another. The 3 categories are perhaps indicative of my own design practice transitioning from a critical/persuasive to a collaborative practice.
Research-intervention context: Design residency in Frankfurt to foster the creative economy in the region A powerful banking sector Increasing socio-economic gap
Background information: Project M lab organises design bootcamps promoting the idea of thinking-wrong and working with local communities. The lab encourages the participants to develop their artistic capabilities daring them to intervene in the context they are embedded in.
Research methods: Interviews Dérive (unplanned walking in the city) Performances Guerrilla urban interventions Films Conceptual services
Intervention: More than 30 urban interventions/performances/films (2 examples given) Wishing wells Collecting citizen stories Design for critical public discourse with a public presentation to the banking, cultural, governance sector gatekeepers and the public
Take-away: Although urban interventions such as these advocacy acts are very powerful (momentarily). For their impact to be complete they need an afterlife and a suitable language to be appealing to a variety of people, not to forget the public. Although some residues remain of this residency in the area of Offenbach, there is no long lasting effect nor a plan for a follow-up. The projects in themselves attracted attention for the following 2-3 months, through the media coverage and a exhibition on the residency by the local art museum.
Reflections: Such projects are good dialogic instruments but lack the long term impact that an embedded social design practice aspires towards.
Project context: Frankfurt is a city dominated by the banking sector and is a high frequency trading and transit zone for both passenger and internet traffic. The city also attracts workers who contribute to the growing urban agglomeration around Frankfurt. Some neighbourhoods outside Frankfurt, like Offenbach show signs of a socio-political divide that is increasingly visible and has sparked an urban revival movement spearheaded by the local creatives.
Intervention: The aim of the intervention is to provoke questions about the increasing socio-economic divide in between the cities of Frankfurt and Offenbach. The service selected 7 historic fountains in Frankfurt and created urban myths around them, in effect turning them into wishing wells. The service is pro-poor in the sense that provides specialised equipment for the the poor to fetch the money from the fountains.
Impact: The design team for this project monitored the use of the wishing wells for a week or so and witnessed it to work especially with the tourists visiting Frankfurt. This urban intervention was presented to a larger audience which included high level managers of the Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt airport, municipal actors and the public. The disconcertment created by such an intervention was visible when the discussion touched upon the topic of being poor in the city.
Intervention: The aim of the intervention is to provoke questions about the increasing socio-economic divide in between the cities of Frankfurt and Offenbach. The intervention was a media-performance that was used to elicit citizen stories about life in ‘Offenbach’. The design-researchers used short films with the theme of ‘rules of happiness’ to spark the conversations with people in marketplaces, streets and restaurants of Offenbach. The media content was shared through a strap on cinema (as seen in the picture).
Impact: This exercise was useful as an ice-breaker with a german speaking population. The conversations and experiences collected were documented as sketches, notes and film and shared with a larger public audience.
Research context: Design researcher working for a business primarily interested in technological futures Exploring future healthcare concepts Visualising business opportunities through foresight research
Background information: Canon oce is a printing company which has been investing in foresight to envision future ‘blue ocean’ markets. They are interested in the service innovation as they realise the products (as compared to services) are often not the best sources of return on investment in a rapidly changing economy. This research was sponsored in the aftermath of the European economic crises ‘2010-12. I was brought in mid-way as part of a larger project called ‘white-spaces’ that mapped future (technological) business opportunities for the company.
Research methods: Interviews with healthcare workers Case studies Literature Future workshops (Ideation based on key ‘what if’ challenges)
Intervention: Through a variety of research methods some collaboratively staged (e.g. future workshops) and some developed by the design-researcher (e.g. future concepts and narratives), the debate between the future and the present health services were highlighted. Specifically the role of the patient as being central to the future in comparison to the technology.
Reflection: A project where the design researcher is embedded in the clients office, the participants most of the time are also your clients. The design researcher in this position uses his speculative skills not only to satisfy the client brief (of finding new business opportunities) but also to negotiate the orientation of the project.
Mapped here are various design research methods used for this foresight project. Although the end of the project is marked by the creation of future-service-concepts, a more valuable contribution is the change in project orientation from a merely technological to a more balanced future with the patient at its core.
This image illustrates project process. Some points to be noted are: Research groundwork needs to be done to collect evidence that can become the spring board for speculative future concepts. This research is inherently reductive as it simplifies the complex healthcare machinery into simpler components that are relevant for the clients. A drawback of this is that it omits taking into account the influence of adjunct functions like that of insurance companies. As compared to a speculative-design project there is more stress on evidencing. The ‘what if…’ scenarios are the first step in imagining a new for-profit services between the patient, the service provider (in this case the client- Canon Oce) and the healthcare providers. A participatory exercise yields the evaluative framework for assessing and discussing the future concepts.
The design-researchers attempt is at creating multiple supposed meta-narratives that are then populated by future-concepts. This meta-narrative(s) are phrased as a ‘what-if…’ challenges, essentially problematising the future.
The concepts are represented as: a). Before and after product service system diagrams that show the changed relationships between the actors and the gains to the patient with the introduction of the new service b). The artefact, in this case a document management and collaborative software which is used in between the doctor and patient.
Impact: The idea with the concepts is not to predict a future but to pass the various future-concepts generated through the evaluative frame created at the start of the project. This is an insightful process when done together with the clients and helps them make the right tradeoffs.
Research context: Design-researcher as part of a multi disciplinary team investigating low service revenues and customer retention Low customer retention Departmentalisation resulting in slow & costly processes Low customer empathy within employees
Background information: The design researcher was involved in the project along with a multidisciplinary task force of marketeers, designers, managers, IT experts etc. The project was sponsored by Siemens Energy who were especially concerned about the low business they were getting on services (for example repair and maintenance). They wanted to understand why that was happening and for us (the design team) to propose solutions. The design of a persuasive game was chosen as the intervention required quite early in the project. The designing of the game involved company employees and managers and became a way to discuss the decision making and communication processes in the company.
Research methods: Interviews Email analysis World cafe
Intervention: Design of serious game
The game engine (image above) captures the logic by which the game operates. The game engine was based on input from the company employees and managers apart from an email-analysis within a department. Iterations of the game engine were shared with the company and the various choices that game-players faced in varied situations were discussed.
The simplification of the workings of the company via a game revealed insights into the companies decision making and communication policies. And helped the researchers to pin point the outdated corporate protocols that were hindering a good service provision.
The game design was launched within small teams and followed up with a large participatory design exercise (world cafe) to collect ideas on how to improve customer-empathy within the company.
Research context: Design-researcher working for a public library, embedded in their innovation team Aim: To develop a new citizen driven media-service Subgoal: To explore the idea of co-location
Background information: The library (DOK) had recently received a grant by the Dutch government to develop media infrastructure at the library. This saw the start of citizen generated media (movies, images, audio and mixed media works). The design researcher approached the library at this point and proposed ‘opportunity-areas’ around the idea of ‘citizen generated media’ and agreeing on the direction of researching and creating a co-located library service through an action research methodology.
Research methods: Interviews Cultural probes Field work Context mapping Observation
Intervention: This project was characterised by field building in similar fashion in which ethnographers snowball their sample group. The actors approached by the design researcher where encouraged to become active participants and contribute to the evolving concept of a citizen media. Multiple actors getting involved with the project at various times led the design researcher to improvise and on the go plan research and design activities. The result is a product-service that is influenced by the various actors that participated in the project in varying degrees.
The image above illustrates the actors involved as participants in the project and the research methods that where used to probe and map their potential involvement and find opportunities of collaboration with the library.
With the actors coming forward with their concerns and interests the concept was brought together with the researcher acting as an integrator and giving shape to their voices. The final physical space and the interaction design was an activity reserved for the design-researcher with minimal input from participants. The final designs for this project were used by the Library to gain funds to develop this concept further.
Research context: Design-researcher as a facilitator between public/university community and the hub’s managers The recently opened hub consists of office spaces, meeting spaces and a maker-lab. Infrastructure rich, relationship poor
Background information: The hub is sponsored by the Umea University with the aim of becoming a place where various disciplines can collaborate and develop learning partnerships. As part of the hub is an entrepreneurial space, a meeting space and a maker space. The design- researcher was brought in to understand the motivations (and barriers) for people in the university (and city & beyond) to work together and in essence understand the potential for using Sliperiet as a collaborative hub.
Research methods: Lego serious play
Intervention: A lego serious play (LSP) method was employed to bring together potential inhabitants/community of Sliperiet together. The workshop was facilitated by the design-researcher and 2 employees of Sliperiet (referred to as internal actors in the diagram). The lego serious play was chosen as the preferred method as it allowed for more open ended feedback from the participants and encourage shared reflection over a making-activity.
The LSP aims: To understand motivations and barriers to collaboration Envisioning potential relationships between actors Envisioning the participants own roles and contributions to this space To start a process of continuous feedback from the community of users
The first discussions within the working group included asking ourselves if collaboration was a good thing (or bad) and if there were nuanced versions of collaborations. In essence, polarising the theme of collaboration in order to find recognition for versions of collaboration that the Sliperiet employees could then work with in a follow up workshop with the potential community (students, researchers, creatives, entrepreneurs) of Sliperiet.
These are a few personal learnings pertaining to how a design project deals with ‘speculative interventions’ and the challenges and issues faced by the design-researcher.
PhD student, Umeå Institute of Design
Presentation for the seminar ‘interventionist speculation’, 14-15th August ’14, Copenhagen, Denmark I The Research Network for Design Anthropology
Social innovation + design
…..I aim to 'prototype' not objects or services per say,
but practices in order to experiment and explore the
implications of social, cultural and technological
changes and challenges to design…..
1. Critical futures
3. Collaborative futures
2. Persuasive futures
Design engagements in the lab, ﬁeld & gallery
Design for critical public discourse [Project M Lab, Germany]
• Design/art residency in Frankfurt in support of the regional creative sector!
• A powerful banking industry !
• Socio-economic tensions between Frankfurt and its suburbs (Offenbach)
work space, Frankfurt
Image source: https://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/projectmfrankfurt/
Wishing wells of Frankfurt!
Creating a pro-poor service through urban myths
Healthcare services foresight [Canon Oce, Netherlands]
• Design researcher working for a business primarily interested
in technological futures !
• Exploring future healthcare concepts!
• Visualising business opportunities through foresight research
future scenarios as evaluative framework
Healthcare services foresight
here!Negotiating the futurewith respect to thepresent
Imagineering the future of health services!
Product service system based on key challenges
patient centric data
Serious gaming for behavioural change [Siemens Energy, Germany]
• Design-researcher as part of a multi disciplinary team
investigating low customer retention at Siemens Energy!
• Departmentalisation resulting in slow & costly processes!
• Low customer/user empathy
Designing a serious game as an intervention
Siemens Energy Challenge!
Serious game for behavioural change
• Gamiﬁcation of the customer request process!
• Role playing!
• CRM guidelines through the game play!
• Eliciting employee feedback and suggestions
Co-library project [DOK, Netherlands]
• Design-researcher working for a public library!
• Aim: To develop a new citizen driven media-service !
• Subgoal: To explore the idea of co-location
Architects of the
Non-govt./ voluntary/ aid!
An assortment of research tools
• A range of research tools used with the stakeholders/participants!
• Re-interrogating the role of the library and its relationship to local
organisations, the city and citizens
• Field work: creating boundary spanning collaborations!
• Envisioning (future) service entanglements
Common concerns inform new service development
Field building Service design: Result of
Making-of an open-collaborative organisation [Sliperiet, Sweden]
• Design-researcher as a facilitator between the hub’s community & managers!
• The recently opened hub consists of ofﬁce spaces, meeting spaces and a maker-lab. !
• Goal of creating a vibrant social collaborative community
Core processes &
Work in progress: Polarising the concerns!
Spatial & material properties
Collaboration is good
Collaboration is bad
What are the drivers for an open-
Work in progress: Building the scene!
Lego serious play to envision collaboration at the hub
• Participants include potential community of Sliperiet!
• Reﬂecting on motivations and barriers to collaborations!
• Envisioning potential relationships between actors!
• Envisioning their own roles and contributions to this space
Learnings and reﬂections !
• Recognising and accepting the agency of the ‘interventions’ & the
• Design interventions as boundary spanning acts
• Design-research hand in hand with the ethical imperative
• The designer-researcher’s ‘interventions’ are ideological-intellectual
• Un-learning an important part of this interventionist practice
• No size ﬁts all: Each context requires a custom intervention set and
new working relationships with the design-researcher and other