Research Seminar Archive

Research Seminars - Spring 2022 

February 1 - Designing together: On histories of Scandinavian User-Centred Design with Maria Göransdotter 

This is a draft for a book chapter in an upcoming publication focusing on Scandinavian design history between 1960 and 1980. This contribution sketches a design history of early Swedish user-centered and participatory design,  from a perspective of designing. 

February 15 - Authentic Interaction: activating resources in the design encounter with Brendon Clark & Johan Redström

In this seminar we will test our argument for authetentic interaction in design encounters we are developing in a paper for the CoDesign journal. 

This paper explores the concept of authentic interaction as a beacon for design. Focusing on interactional set-ups between two or more entities brings focus to the fragility and potential of the design encounter. Exploring the potential relevance of authentic interaction across the spectrum of design processes ranging from bringing intended users into the early design process, to extended interactions and open-ended design processes, such as the ones made possible (and necessary) by technologies that evolve over time (e.g. AI that learn), we argue that it has special relevance in situations characterised by significant asymmetries with respect to knowledge, experience and other own resources to draw upon. 

March 1 - Experiences of self tracking, a design ethnographic project with Vaike Fors

In this talk, I will outline how a design ethnographic approach helped us to learn more about experiences of self tracking, question exisiting design visions of self tracking and imagine future selftracking. I will present how we developed a pedagogical approach to how to understand self tracking as part of people's everyday learning and insights from fieldwork, and the implications of this for design. This presentation is based in the RJ-funded project: Sensing, shaping, sharing.

The paper for the seminar is Fors, V., & Pink, S. (2017).  Pedagogy as Possibility: Health Interventions as Digital Openness. Social Sciences, 6(2), 59.

Vaike Fors is Professor in Design Ethnography at the School of ITE at Halmstad University in Sweden, and Adjunct Associate Professor in The Emerging Technologies Research Lab at Monash University, Australia. Her area of expertise lies in the fields of visual, sensory and design ethnography. In her pursuit to contribute to further understandings of contemporary conditions for learning, she has studied people's interaction with new and emerging technologies in various research projects. She is an experienced project leader of international scientific, applied and collaborative research projects. Recent publications include the co-authored books Imagining Personal Data: Experiences of Self-Tracking (Routledge, 2020) and Design Ethnography. Research, Responsibilities, Futures (2022).

March 15 - Study: Practice of Design Research in Germany with Stephan Ott and Jessica Krejci

During the seminar the Institute for Design Research and Appliance (IfDRA) will present first results of its extensive study on the state of design research in Germany. After a series of interviews with 35 international experts, different thesis and statements were further validated by a quantitative survey, with a special focus on the topics of definition, skills, needs, training, and methods. The presentation will specifically focus on the topic of definition presenting various insights of the different parts of the research.

The presentation will be followed by discussion with the seminar participants, with interest in such questions as the international integrability of the findings or how to deal with possible discrepancies between theory and practice.

Stephan Ott has been director of the newly founded Institute for Design Research and Appliance (IfDRA), based at the German Design Council, since March 2020. Since 1994, Stephan Ott has worked as a freelance author, journalist and editor specializing in design. From 1999 to 2012, he headed the press and public relations department at the German Design Council. From 2012 to 2020, he was editor-in-chief of the design magazine form.

Jessica Krejci has been working together with Stephan Ott at the newly founded Institute for Design Research and Appliance (IfDRA), based at the German Design Council, since April 2020. After studying Strategic Product Development at the Delft University of Technology, Jessica Krejci worked as an editor at the design magazine form from 2014 to 2019 and subsequently gained experience at an IT consultancy in the field of software development.

The Institute for Design Research and Appliance (IfDRA), located at the German Design Council, sees itself as an interface, mediator and advisor for the various exponents from theory (teaching and research) and application-oriented practice. The institute sees its task not only in supporting academic-scientific basic research, but also in backing practical design research. 

March 22 - Anja Neidhardt's 50% PhD Seminar: Disentangling Design From Oppressive Structures - Envisioning, Building, and Sustaining Alternative Design Museums

In her 50% PhD Seminar, Anja Neidhardt will first introduce her research project and then have a conversation with  Kristina Lindström, associate professor at Malmö University, and Åsa Ståhl, associate professor at Linne University. Towards the end, the conversation will be opened up for the audience to join with questions and comments.

How can the design discipline be disentangled from oppressive systems like patriarchy, so that it becomes able to support change towards more justice? Which role can design museums play in this? To explore these questions, I combine design research and feminist research. I first analyze how design museums are entangled with oppressive systems, which attempts are already underway to bring about positive change, and which further strategies might be learnt from activists and protest movements in other fields. I do this mainly with the help of queer phenomenology and onto-cartography. Based on these case studies I then introduce three experiments to explore how alternative design museums might be envisioned, build and sustained. This thesis shows potential ways in which the entanglement of design and its museums with oppressive systems might be understood and addressed in order to bring about positive change. Furthermore, it contributes to the field of design museums alternative ways of moving towards more equity and justice; as well as ideas of how design museums or exhibitions might look and work in more just futures. On a broader scale, the thesis shows ways in which feminist approaches might be applied in design research. And it also introduces some ideas of how feminist research might benefit from design theories and methodologies. Finally, with this research project I am also contributing to activism in the field of design, by strengthening the community that I am part of, bringing people together, introducing new thoughts and methods, sharing my insights and as well as materials and sources, for example in workshops and journalistic texts.

March 29 - Alter-Natives: Designing as a Poetics of Relating with Martín Ávila

"What if we would use a hyphen in the word alternative and write alter-native to help us think the relations enacted by the artefacts we devise? I suggest that by using the word alter-native to describe artefacts' relations to environments and beings, one indicates the alterity of a thing, its own foreignness to environments by being artificial, fabricated by humans."

The seminar will be based on the publication (in press)  Alter-Natives: Designing as a Poetics of Relating.  For a copy, write to 

Martín Ávila is a designer, researcher and Professor of Design at Konstfack in Stockholm, Sweden. Martin's research is design-driven and addresses forms of interspecies cohabitation. See also:

April 12 - Co-creation for empathy and mutual learning: a framework for design in health and social care with Canan Akoglu

Co-creation is seen as imperative in healthcare however existing frameworks are in need for adapting to specific settings from a person-centred care perspective such as shared decision-making, characterised by asymmetrical power relations and restricted time resources. This article takes a workshop in shared decision-making with doctors, nurses, patients and relatives as a point of departure for process reflection. The aim of the workshop was to develop implementation strategies for a decision tool for future cancer care. By analysing its concept and methods, we propose a general framework for design in health and social care, based on meeting fellow stakeholders, switching over roles, voicing and developing ideas and finally evaluating proposals (MOVE). By evidence of our research, we propose that empathy can be created and strengthened through co-creation in health and social care.

Canan Akoglu works as Associate Professor at Lab for Social Design and as the Head of Design for People MA Programme at Design School Kolding in Denmark. She has a background in architecture together with a PhD degree in industrial design from Istanbul Technical University. Her main research interests include participatory design, service design, social design in health and social care. Prior to her current position, Akoglu worked as the co-founder of the Department of Industrial Design at Ozyegin University in Istanbul and as a postdoctoral researcher at Umeå Institute of Design.

April 26, 2022 - Final PhD Seminar: Moving decolonially in design for sustainabilities - Spaces, places, rhythms, rituals, celebrations, conflicts with Nicholas Torretta 


Design is now faced with new socio-environmental challenges. However, as design tries to tackle environmental and social issues, it has found itself intertwined with an oppressive global paradigm that has created the problems in the first place. As a consequence, the effort of disentangling design from its current paradigm has been gaining attention under the names of decolonizing design (see for example Mareis and Paim, 2020; Tlostanova, 2017, among others) and design for pluriversality (see for instance Escobar, 2018). Within this effort, this work explores the possibilities of opening ways to move design away from its contemporary paradigm with the intention of opening up spaces for design that is not oppressive from a decolonial perspective and that supports pluriversal ways of being in the world. As such, this work is built on the premise that, to do so, we need to start from a stance outside the dominant paradigm. Here the departure point is the Afro-Brazilian decolonial martial art of Capoeira. Capoeira is used as a stance to move closely with the dominant design paradigm in order to create a sensitivity to how design moves. That is, to understand when and why contemporary design can be oppressive.  From this sensitivity, this work then opens up for exploring directions for other ways of designing. These explorations take the form of collaborative movements, of collaborative design projects that explore opening design towards other possible ways of defined and practiced. This work is thus a collection of collaborative movements that explore situated ways of finding openings towards other ways of designing. Drawing on the outcomes of these movements, this works outlines possible directions and spaces for fomenting decolonial stance in design for pluriversality and its possible implications for design education and practice.

Research Seminars - Fall 2021 

September 14 - Research through and through design with Johan Redström

There are both advantages and disadvantages of articulating, or defining, a certain form of (design) research by comparing different ways in which design and research can be related to each other. A key advantage is that one can achieve a certain sense of precision without actually having to account for precisely what the components 'research' and 'design' are, as the precision of the distinction instead can be achieved on basis of the difference between the alternatives. For instance, without saying anything about what research or design is, we can still say that research through design is different from research on design in that it is not looking at design from distance, but actively engaged in design and making. And in the context of design research, this actually takes us quite far, and it allows us to explain how both conceptual and methodological frameworks can be combined.

There are, however, also disadvantages with this tactic, the most crucial one being that it probably also hides a great many things. For instance, we might ask, to what extent do the constituent forms of 'design' and 'research' become something else as we combine them?; is 'research through design' a process where the components retain their identity and properties, or does this transform them into something new? As we look at the work being done under the heading of research through design, there is a spectrum of examples ranging from processes where existing (design) practice only to a limited extent is transformed by the change in intent towards research, to examples where the very purpose is to create a new (design research) 'practice'. It is not so much a question of what form is best, they are just different from each other.

In what follows, I would like to explore what 'research through design' is and might become by asking questions about what the notion of 'through' actually refers to.

Publication will be distributed one week prior to the seminar.

September 28 - Expressive Entities - An exploration and critical reflection on the poetic engagements with technology with Young Suk Lee

This research exploration and suggestion aims to add another keen inspirational value to the fields of Human Computer Interaction and Design, creating a new space to embrace the creative spirit and imaginative vision of "a poetic use of technology". The dictionary term and meaning of "poetic" is "having or expressing the qualities of poetry (as through aesthetic or emotional impact)". In my research, the term of poetic meaning is not holding back the idea of remaining as a romantic and fantasy imagination that is possibly opposite of a realistic use, nor aligned with the utilitarian ways of thinking about a use. My definition of "a poetic use" means a use of encountering poetic experience; this means I am endeavoring to create a creative engagement through technology in a poetic way that will meet humanity's authentic needs for aesthetic interaction to elicit emotional impacts in everyday life. I aim to provide vivid experiences in a more organic way, aiming to empower humans to recognize their own rich emotions and construct subjective perceptions in a dynamic relation with technology. It means I designed interactions for humans to actively receive a digital entity while allowing open-ended exploration, acceptance, and adoption of technology that is not separable from one's own identity, personality, belief and cultural aspects. Thus, this conceptual approach builds a creative digital emergence in which humans can stand at the center of the interactive experience as a protagonist. Ultimately, my artistic idea and effort aim to lead us to revisit the default belief and conventional approach to technology in our society, and the reflection helps us to thoughtfully re-connect technology to human beings.

Three short papers in preparation for the seminar:

Lee, Y. S., & Saakes, D. (2021). "Footsie": Exploring Physical Human-Machine-Interaction through Flirtatious Furniture.  Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction, 1-4.

Lee, Y. S. (2018). Thou and I: Exploring Expressive Digital Interaction with Interactive Characteristic Wigs. Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction, 581-585.

Lee, Y. S. (2017). Tea with Crows: Towards Socially Engaging Digital Interaction. Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 441-444.

Bio: Young Suk Lee is a multimedia artist and researcher currently working on a PhD dissertation (University of Twente, The Netherlands) based on my body of work of interactive computational art & design. She was working at Indiana University in South Bend, IN, USA as an assistant professor of Integrated New Media Studies, but recently resigned from her teaching position (May, 2021) to focus on thinking and making new interactive art & design projects.

She has a BFA and an MFA, (Fine Art, Hong-Ik University. Seoul, South Korea) and has gained the essential foundations of Art practice. She studied digital art while obtaining a second MFA with an emphasis on interactive art (Digital Art, Indiana University, Bloomington). Then, Young Suk expanded her interests in Human-Computer Interaction by earning a M.S degree (School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, IUB) under Intel Social Computing Research Grant. She also holds a minor major in art history (Modern/Contemporary Art).

October 12, 13,14 - UID PhD Festival / Theme: Research Through Design

Opening Research Seminar (Keynote) October 12, 2021, 14:00-15:45

The Challenge of Improving Designing
Erik Stolterman (Indiana University & Umeå Institute of Design)

"In this talk I will discuss research aimed at improving design practice. I will argue that the design process is impossible to fully control and because of that, cannot guarantee a desired outcome. As a result, there is a need to carefully reflect on how design research aimed at improving design practice takes on this task. I will also argue that any research aimed at supporting or improving designing has to be grounded in a deep understanding of the nature and practice of designing"

Reading: Stolterman, E. (2021). The challenge of improving designing. International Journal of Design, 15(1), 65-74.

Each of the 10 PhD students affiliated with UID is asked to relate their PhD project to the festival theme Research Through Design.

October 13, 2021 13:00-17:00
October 14, 2021 13:00-17:00

Full schedule will follow.

October 26 - Five orientations to envision and evoke better futures with Hillary Carey

In a draft of a book chapter for an edited volume titled, Rehearsing Racial Equity, I propose five possible orientations for evoking ideas about the future-- that go beyond simply describing those visions. I draw from the many different ways that activists, artists, ethicists, political scientists, theologians, rhetoricians, and many others engage in bringing the future into the present. These orientations are intertwined and stackable but I believe it is still useful to define them separately: Protopian, Proleptic, Prophetic, Prefigurative, and Pre-enacted Futures.

A summary of the book chapter can be found here.

Draft book chapter may be forthcoming…

Bio: In the engaged community of Oakland, California, Hillary recently she joined as a design leadership coach. Before that she directed in-depth user research at her firm, Winnow Research, for seven years. Before that she worked in Silicon Valley in-house at large tech companies and a start-up and also as an innovation consultant with IDEO.

Hillary is particularly interested in creative ways to incorporate iterative and tangible learning tools, such as cultural probes and collaborative prototyping in a range of design processes. Through Winnow's work with Kaiser Permanente, she has practiced participatory innovation techniques-- designing the space, technology, roles, and flows of medical buildings alongside workers and cross-disciplinary teams.

Teaching as an adjunct at the college level has been an essential part of exploring the applications of design and design research. Teaching in both the Industrial Design and Interaction Design programs at California College of the Arts, and teaching Design Thinking and Innovation to graduate-level journalism students at the Northwestern campus in San Francisco.

Her dissertation inquiry combines the complex social challenge of racism and racism-denial in the United States with the creative work of materializing visions of better futures. Is there a connection between experiencing a long-term vision of a better, more just, more healed society for everyone and the mindset changes needed today?

November 16 - What design can do with Thomas Binder

In the light of the challenges of climate change, ecological crisis and global inequalities, design is called to action not only in the design school and the design professions but also more broadly in the varied engagements of consumers and households, workers and industries, citizens and public institutions. With design mandated "to devise courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones" (as famously coined by Herbert Simon already in the 60'ties), the wicked problems of today certainly both widens and deepens the relevance and scope of design engagements. Still, with design expanding and proliferating far beyond the classical realm of the design professions it is worth considering what this contribution to change from design is and could be, and how professional design cultures participate in these engagements. At the seminar I will probe into what design can do through exploring agency, hope and speculation in contemporary design encounters with green transitions.

As a possible preparation for the seminar you may read:  The Things We Do: Encountering the Possible chapter

Short bio:

Thomas Binder is professor and head of research in the Lab for Sustainability and Design at Design School Kolding. He teaches and conducts research on open design collaborations and participatory design in the context of sustainable change. His research includes contributions to methods and tools for codesign, design anthropology and experimental design research with a particular emphasis on re-thinking the design object. He has been editing and authoring several  books such as (Re-) searching the Digital Bauhaus' (Springer 2008), Rehearsing the Future (Danish Design School Press, 2010), Design Research through Practice (Morgan Kaufman, 2011), Design Things (MIT press, 2011) and Design Anthropological Futures (Bloomsbury, 2016). Thomas Binder has been chairing the Participatory Design Conference in 2002, the Nordic Design Research Conference in 2005 and the Design Anthropological Futures Conference in 2015.

November 23 - Unmaking Utopian Fabulations: Collaborative Experiences of Designing with Bodily Fluids with Marie Louise Juul Søndergaard, Karey Helms & Nadia Campo

This seminar takes the Nordes 2021 exploratory paper " Scaling Bodily Fluids for Utopian Fabulations" as a starting point to present and discuss an ecology of collaborations, projects and design work on human bodily fluids. The paper presents four utopian fabulations (see images below) in which urine, menstrual blood, and human milk are designed with beyond the scale of a singular human body. Each fabulation illustrates queer scales and uses of bodily fluids through extended or improper uses as pathways towards caring multi-species relations within a damaged environment. Through the seminar, we collaboratively unmake the stories and unpack where they come from, both in our individual research projects and shared interests and experiences. While each fabulations is a world with worlds they are also paths forward into our current research projects, where continued material engagements with bodily fluids are furthering our excitements for designing with bodily fluids. 

Marie Louise Juul Søndergaard (she/her) is a designer, feminist, and postdoctoral researcher at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO). Her work is exploring speculative and feminist design of future technologies. 

Nadia Campo Woytuk (she/her) is a PhD student in Interaction Design at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. She explores feminist approaches to the design of technologies, drawing from  ecofeminism, more-than-human design and postcolonial computing.

Karey Helms (she/her) is a PhD student in Interaction Design at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Her research draws upon Care ethics and queer theories for a more careful design of technology.

Research Seminars - Spring 2021

January 12 - Designing for Pedagogical Play in Schools with Hanne Hede Jørgensen

13:15-15:00 via Zoom. For the link, write to

During the seminar, Hanne will introduce her PhD project. Attached find a recommended text to contextualize Hanne's doctoral studies, and a Danish publication of her's.

Designing for pedagogical play practices in school
The pivot of my PhD project is the play practices of pedagogues. The project elucidates if and how pedagogues, who participate in a design for play, discover and develop play practices that can support a diversity of play participations amongst children. The purpose is to support children's ability to play in schools in general, however, the children who risk exclusion from the play communities have a special focus. The Programme of the PhD is thus what I call pedagogical play practices and the Research Question is: How can the making of play designs explore and develop pedagogical play practices that support school children's participation in play?

Collaboration with pedagogues is essentials in the study. Together with pedagogues in two schools I design for different play types and I use these play designs as explorative experiments in order to explore what pedagogical play practices can be. In addition, I have made two kinds of move testing experiments in search for ways to support pedagogues in developing a reflective and play sensitive repertoire for actions. One I call Dramatic Reflexion. The purpose of this is to engage and provoke the bodily knowledge of pedagogues. The other I - for now - call a Child-centred-doll-experiment. The purpose of this is to put my self in a pedagogical play situation, I do that in order to explore the pedagogical play practices in a phenomenological way and to create cases for the pedagogues to reflect upon.

My ambition is to generate a theory of designing for development of pedagogical play practices in schools; a theory that includes a definition of what pedagogical play practices might be and some design principles that other pedagogues can use when they want to develop their play practices in a pedagogical way.


My name is Hanne Hede Jørgensen. My educational background is cand. mag in Literature and dramaturgy. I am associated professor at Pædagoguddannelsen, VIA, Aarhus. I have taught coming pedagogues since 1999. My topics were children's culture, play, pedagogic and organizational cultures. Prior to the research I am doing now, I have done research on children's perspectives on their everyday life in Kindergarten and on how pedagogues understand what good practices are.

I am now doing a PhD on Codesign for Play and Pedagogical practice. I am doing it at Designschool Kolding. I have a lot of experience on working with pedagogues and children and I am biased according to the professions of pedagogues. Meaning, I have written critical articles on neo-liberal tendencies within the profession of pedagogues, argumenting for more reflective and classical practices. The area of design is new to me. I have until now no experience on conducting and participating in design processes. It seems, however, that my educational background on literature and dramaturgy suddenly has become interesting and applicable in new ways.

January 26 - Research Project Application Seminar with Maria Göransdotter and Marije de Haas 

This seminar discussion will revolve around practicalities and strategies in applying for research funding. Two application proposals (in progress) for international postdoc funding from Swedish national funding bodies will form the basis for the discussion: Marije de Haas' application to Forte, and Maria Göransdotter's application to Vetenskapsrådet (VR). Please write if you would like to join the seminar and receive the applications.

For the seminar, please read the applications from the perspective of the respective assessment criteria and general aims as formulated by Forte and VR. Bring both comments to Marije and Maria on how they might sharpen their project proposals and applications, and any questions you have in general about research funding application processes that we can discuss on a more general level.

To conclude, what type of funding might you be looking to apply for next?

February 8 - Design Dialogues and the third turn with Brendon Clark & Nicholas Torretta

In this seminar focusing on a work-in-progress paper position paper for a CHI workshop (Decolonizing Design Practice), we look to how dialogue in design comes about and how it unfolds in order to explore colonization tendencies in design with good intentions. Whether we are taking a macro look at back-on-forth moves in design, up-close inspection of the sequential unfolding of a single design encounter, we take the position that design dialogue initiation and turn-taking sequences can expose oppressive structures that close collaborative possibility, and exploratory structures that open collaborative possibility, with speculation about the multiplicity of interpretation arising through the lens of pluriversality.

February 23 - Mapping Design Methods: a reflection on project cultures with Maria Göransdotter & Valentina Auricchio

13:15-15:00 via Zoom. For the link, write to

This article springs from a recently initated research collaboration between Valentina Auricchio, Politecnico di Milano (Polimi), and Maria Göransdotter, Umeå Institute of Design (UID). It outlines a direction for a joint research endeavour bringing together design research and design historical research from a perspective of design methods. The article has been submitted to the Italian journal A/I/S Design, Storia e Ricerche, for an edition themed "Relational geographies in the history of design" (still in review). We are proposing a programmatic framework that brings design methods to the attention of design history, and attention to the historicity of design in design practices. We will do this through sketching a map, a geography in time, to move toward a deeper understanding of the evolution of methods linked to the specific cultures and contexts from which they emerge, the cross-overs, and historical interrelations between these. This article is a starting point for a wider research project, an example bringing design historical and design methodological research agendas closer to each other. Starting from specific interviews with Italian designers that bring evidence to a gap of analysis in this field, we highlight the need for a deeper and continued investigation into design histories of design methods.

March 9 - When the prototype becomes the product in design education - prototyping design education in transition with Brendon Clark

13:15-15:00 via Zoom. For the link, write to

In this seminar I would like to introduce and discuss a specific view about the current state of industrial design education in this specific time of the current crisis, and a way of analyzing current teaching experiences. The work presented during this seminar comes from as part of a current project focusing on best practices in remote teaching at UID during 2020, and proposal-in-progress for a project application for a Hybrid Design Lab potentially starting in the Fall focusing on transitioning from online to hybrid learning arrangements, and a work-in-progress article for a journal article for a special issue on Alternative Studios: Design Education Changes in 2020.

April 27 - Envisioning Alternative Design Museums with Anja Neidhardt, Heather Wiltse & Anna Croon Fors

13:15-15:00 via Zoom. For the link, write to

The design discipline takes part in the distribution of privilege and oppression (Buckley, 2020; Canli & Prado de O. Martins, 2016; Costanza-Chock, 2020). And it is highly supported by design museums. This is why changing design museums might contribute to dis-entangling the discipline from these discriminatory structures.

In this seminar, we will first discuss different ways of how established design museums could be dis-entangled from systems of privilege and discrimination. The discussion will be based on a paper that was recently submitted for publication. It will be followed by a workshop in which we invite you to collaboratively envision a variety of possibilities of how alternative design museums might operate and look like.

ABSTRACT:  The design discipline is entangled with systems of privilege and discrimination (Buckley, 2020; Canli & Prado de O. Martins, 2016; Costanza-Chock, 2020; Criado-Perez, 2019; Pater, 2016); and design museums play a key role in supporting them. Changing design museums might thus be one way of dis-entangling the discipline from these oppressive structures. In this paper, we explore possibilities for how this might be done. We first employ scalar-framing (Hunt, 2020), zooming in, around and out to explore an expanded scale of approaches that might be applied in order to change existing design museums. We identify and analyse design museums' key elements and processes in relation to upholding potentially problematic aspects of the design discipline before turning to looking for alternatives to replace them. Drawing inspiration from protest archives, we imagine what alternative design museums could be like. Specifically, we introduce the concept of alternative design museums as a scaffold for emerging forms of gathering around more just processes and outcomes of design. 

May 25th - Keywords in Participatory Design: past, present, alternative paths with Andrea Botero

Participatory Design (PD) --with capital letters -grew out of linkages between technology designers and worker movements in the 1970s in scandinavia. But ofcourse other participatory and collective design practices have also been evolving globally. Now, as participation has emerged as an increasingly popular but also contested idea in design fields, new conversations about what we mean by "participation" and in what kind of "desings" need to scale out. The issue of how we imagine the kinds of knowledge central to collective practices, is critical and the community is shapeshifting. The seminar invites participants to an exploration around some of the emerging keywords in this research and practice community as they appear in the past and current call for papers for PDC and a recently published alternative zine.

Andrea Botero is an Academy of Finland research fellow at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture of Aalto University and conspirator at the design studio Suo&Co. Her design work explores technologies, services, media formats and genres for collectives and communities. Through her research she aims to understand how collectives come to understand the design spaces available to them and how designers could support infrastructuring and commoning processes around them.

Research Seminars - 2020

February 4 - A research seminar Design Togetherness with Monica Lindh-Karlsson

This is the second section of the theoretical section, Chapter 2. In the first chapter, I presented an overview of ways of working together in design with a participatory-, collaborative- and processual perspective. In this chapter, I claim that we have extensive knowledge about how we work together as 'what' we are and lack understanding of how we relate to each other in design. This second chapter (seminar text) presents a theoretical lens with three concepts of human doing: labor, work, and action. The three concepts aim to support us to unpack how we relate to each other in design. When working together in design is looked at through Arendt's conceptual lenses, I raise some questions that concern how we relate to each other. The following chapter (chapter 3) aims to give an example of how an exploration of ways of working together has been conducted through making. Expressions of, experiences from, and gained insights will be discussed by using notions of work and action. 

I have three questions I would like the readers to reflect upon:

Does Arendt's concept of labor, work, and action apply to working together in design? 

What connections and deviations do you see between the concepts and working together in design?

What questions do the concepts arise when applied to working together in design?

The thesis organization:

- Prologue/Introduction

- Chapter 1. Working together in design from a participatory-, collaborative- and processual perspective (theory)

- Chapter 2. Working together and relating to each other as 'what' we are or as 'who' we are. A theoretical lens for human doing and design' (theory, Arendt)

- Chapter 3. Exploring working together and ways to relate to each other. (projects)

- Chapter 4. Articulation of design togetherness.

- Chapter 5. Discussion/reflection

March 3 - Technology and More-Than-Human Design with Elisa Giaccardi & Johan Redström

Research Studio, 13:15-15:00

As digital technologies such as big data, the internet of things, machine learning, and artificial intelligence increasingly challenge and even disrupt the everyday job of design-not to mention everyday life-there comes a need to raise critical questions about the ways we design.

Write to  if you wish to attend and have a pre-viewing of the paper. 

March 17 - Defining Design Activism with Anja Neidhardt

Research Studio, 13:15-15:00 (via Zoom

Design as activism. Activism as design. Disobidient design. Activism in academia. Living a feminist life. Activist design researcher. - How do you define design? And activism? How would you describe the relationship between the two? In this seminar we will read four papers with special focus on how the authors define design (and/or) activism and how they position themselves in and with their work. After presenting her readings of the selected papers, Anja will open up the discussion. This seminar offers the possibility to not only talk about how each of us defines design (and/or) activism in their own research, but also to discuss our positionalities as researchers, designers and activists. 

It would be great if you could at least read one of the papers; which one(s) you select to read is up to you. 

Ece Canli: "Introduction" of her PhD dissertation: Queerying Design. Material Re-Configurations of Body Politics. University of Porto, 2017. 

Tom Bieling: "Designing Activism. An Introduction", in: Design (&) Activism. Perspectives on Design as Activism and Activism as Design. Mimesis International, 2019. 

Anna Feigenbaum: "Tear Gas Design and Dissent", in: Design (&) Activism. Perspectives on Design as Activism and Activism as Design. Mimesis International, 2019.

Cheryl Buckley: "Made in Patriarchy II: Researching (or Re-Searching) Women and Design", in: Massachusetts Institute of Technology DesignIssues: Volume 36, Number 1, Winter 2020

March 31 - Where do sustainability, science and design meet?, with Viola Hakkarainen

In this seminar Viola will introduce her PhD project to open a discussion about synergies between sustainability science and participatory design research.

Sustainability science increasingly adopts collaborative research approaches to deal with uncertainty in social-ecological systems and facilitate transformations toward sustainability. Inclusion of different voices, knowledges and values into ecosystem governance is therefore seen to increase legitimacy of decisions and contribute with solutions to face sustainability challenges. However, these knowledge processes, such as weaving different knowledge systems, are often superficially described, and thus there is a lack of reflexivity of issues such as representation and power. Ultimately, the collaborative turn in knowledge production calls for new methods and approaches to bridge between science and society to produce just and actionable knowledge - a call that participatory design research could help to answer?

Background reading: 

Hakkarainen, V., Anderson, C. B., Eriksson, M., van Riper, C. J., Horcea-Milcu, A., & Raymond, C. M. (2020). Grounding IPBES experts' views on the multiple values of nature in epistemology, knowledge and collaborative science. Environmental Science and Policy, 105. 11 18.

Hakkarainen, V., Soini, K., Dessein, J., Raymond, C. (2020) Place-embedded agency: A new concept for deconstructing local knowledge through place belonging. In review, please don't distribute.

Bio: Viola Hakkarainen is an interdisciplinary researcher at the Natural Resources Institute Finland and a PhD candidate at the University of Helsinki. Her research interests include knowledge weaving processes in ecosystem governance and sense of place in social-ecological systems research. She has a soft spot for philosophy of science and creative research methods.

April 14 - Transnational Corporations from the Standpoint of Workers with Aina Tollefsen 

For this seminar we welcome Aina Tollefsen, a professor in the Human Geography department, to share her work on design-related topic of the organization of transnational work. 

The two main suggested readings are two chapters from her co-authored book Transnational Corporations from the Standpoint of Workers:  Chapter 11 "Production Regimes  - the Wage Labourer's Discontent" (pp. 248-272) and the Epilogue (pp. 273-278). A further (extra) reading suggestion is Alf Hornborg's article "Colonialism in the Anthropocene - the Political Ecology of the Money-Energy-Technology Complex. Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, Vol. 10 No. 1, March 2019, pp. 7-21 

Find the literature on the Staff Teams under the channel: Research Seminar or click  here. 

Aina Tollefsen is Associate Professor in Human Geography at the Department of Geography, Umeå University. Her publications include "The production of the rural landscape and its labour: The development of supply chain capitalism in the Swedish berry industry", 2018. Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series, 40(40), 69-82. (With Eriksson, M.);  and Transnational Corporations from the Standpoint of Workers, 2014. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (With Räthzel, N. and Mulinari, D.) 

April 28 - Audio-Augmented Paper Drawings Tangible Interface in Educational Intervention for High-Functioning Autistic Children with Andrea Alessandrini

This seminar will be focused on a 2016 publication at the Interaction Design and Children conference.  ReduCat is an audio-augmented paper drawings tangible user interface system intended to support educational intervention for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. It records audio snippets on standard paper drawings using a tangible user interface that can be shared between the therapist and the child. It is designed for the therapist to engage the child in a collaborative storytelling activity.


Andrea has an Associate Professor position in Interaction Design/Service Design at the Umeå Institute of Design, Umeå University. He has a Research Senior Lecturer position in Informatics at the Informatics Department, Linnéuniversitetet (Sweden), and holds a Visiting Professor position at the Design School at the Politecnico di Milano.

Andrea's scientific interest is within the field of interaction design, especially the design of digital interactive systems - grounded by distributed cognition theory and activity theory - to support people experience. He is particularly interested in the design of systems and user interfaces (e.g. through user-centred design and participatory design) for educational interventions for children and young. Beside these interests, he also conducts research on prototyping and creative technologies.

May 12 - Everyday Reality and Design Research Challenges with Erik Stolterman

Our everyday reality seems to become more complex by the day, in many cases caused by an increasing number of computational and connected devices. The complexity of our world is growing. In this talk I will discuss what this means for design and what new challenges it brings for design research (in particular interaction design research).

For background reading to support the discussion see:

Stolterman, E. (2008).  The nature of design practice and implications for interaction design research. International Journal of Design, 2(1), 55-65.
Janlert, Lars-Erik, and Erik Stolterman. " Complex Interaction." ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 17, no. 2 (May 2010): 1-32.

Erik Stolterman is Professor in Informatics and the Senior Executive Associate Dean of the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is also professor at the Institute of Design at Umeå University, Sweden. Stolterman is co-Editor for the Design Thinking/Design Theory book series by MIT Press, and on several editorial boards for international journals (The HCI journal, International Journal of Design, Design Studies, Design, Economics and Innovation, International Journal of Designs for Learning, Studies in Material Thinking, Human Computation, Artifact). Stolterman's main work is within the areas of HCI, interaction  design, design practice, philosophy and theory of design. Stolterman has published a large number of articles and five books, including "Thoughtful Interaction Design" (MIT Press) and "The Design Way" (MIT Press) and the recently published "Things That Keep Us Busy--The Elements of Interaction" (MIT Press, 2017).

May 26 - The Role of the Lecturer in Talent Development in Design Art School Education with Suzanne Brink

13:15-15:00 via Zoom

"… I call it interval education. My metaphor is training for a marathon. It is about serially doing different things, and not always running the same amount at the same speed. So you play with readingassignments, class discussion, reflection, Socratic aspects, giving feedback individually, talking in group sessions... That way, the brain cannot be lazy."

In this seminar I will present my research on design program curricula in higher education that foster talent development. My qualitative study took part in 5 art schools, including UID, interviewing sixteen lecturers. To kick off the seminar, I will start by showing how I have used coding to organize my qualitative data set. Then I will present the four 'blocks' which appeared in the data (educational system, curriculum, didactics, motivation), and the three 'actors' (lecturer, student, professional field). We willzoom into the role of the lecturer in this seminar, specifically on the expectations, the humble teacher, flexibility, reciprocal learning, and assessment for learning. This will be followed by an interactive part of the seminar in which I pose some questions for the group to answer and ask for reflections on both my results and the literature suggestion, such as what do you recognize, what would you like to do more, what don't you agree with, and what enablers and barriers do you perceive?

For background reading, follow the link:

Six into One: The Contradictory Art School Curriculum and how it Came About

Houghton, Nicholas, International Journal of Art & Design Education, February 2016, Vol.35(1), pp.107-120

September 15 - Reorienting Design Towards a Decolonial Ethos: Emancipatory Directions for Design with Nicholas Torretta, Brendon Clark & Johan Redström

In this research seminar we will put forward the first iteration of a paper under review by the Design and Culture journal where we are exploring emancipatory directions for reorienting design. After a short introduction of the paper, the main concepts and the design intervention, we would like to lead a discussion around the main aspects addressed by the paper in what concerns the reorientation of design for sustainability, as how the argument is put together in the paper. 

September 28 - The introduction of the digital wall and how it can change the domestic arrangement with Morteza Abdipour

15:00-16:30 - Discussant: Mikael Wiberg (Umeå University)

This research focuses on the emergence of using large screen user interfaces in the home environment. It aims to demonstrate the arrangement changes in the domestic environment in a complex scenario of using large screens. In the fast-growing demand for large screens, this product could potentially be available to be used by people in their home environment; however, this concept is futuristic and does not yet exist in reality. Constructing large displays can be carried out with different production methods. Here, this concept is called the digital wall, and it is a very thin wall-sized interactive display. The characteristics of the digital wall will vary to be able to create different scenarios. One such scenario is a space in the home where the surface of the wall is covered with screens, which allows multiple possibilities to experience and interact with the digital contents.

September 29 - Paper Review Process seminar with Heather Wiltse 


Peer review is a key part of academic life. If you are an academic, you will often be called upon to provide peer reviews for work in your field (conferences, journals, funding agencies). And of course you will also submit your own work for peer review, and receive feedback on its quality. When done well, peer review ensures high standards of academic work and can be highly rewarding to both give and receive. In doing peer review you are able to champion and constructively critique the work of others (or indeed prevent poor or immature work from being published). Receiving thoughtful critiques of your own work can allow you to improve it, while receiving poorly-done reviews can bring sharp reminders of how important it is to do this kind of work well. Peer review is also a key disciplining mechanism within disciplines that can serve to maintain its existing power structures and paradigms.

In this seminar, we will explore both sides of peer review: giving, as well as receiving.

October 13 - Curriculum Agility in Post-Covid-19 Design Education with Suzanne Brink

13:15-15:00 via Zoom

In this research seminar I will present the concept of curriculum agility and the seven principles developed in the paper I co-authored Assessing Curriculum Agility in a CDIO Engineering Education, and describe how we (from 6 different universities) arrived at them. I will then turn to discussing what contemporary design education, such as UID, can do with these principles, now that we are provoked to re-strategize what education could look like in a post-Covid-19 world.

October 21 - PhD Festival / Matters of Scale and Situatedness in Design Research

14:00-17:00 via Zoom 

Questions of scale and scalability have been fundamental to the industrial design project. At the same time, an appreciation for situatedness has been key to locating accountable practices of design activity and design research. As design turns toward acting within complexities of socially and environmentally urgent contexts and have been exploring valuable methodologies, conceptualizations, and forms of engagement for contemporary design practice, issues of scale, scalability and situatedness take on new meanings.

For this year's PhD Festival, we will build on the theme set for the next Nordic Design Research Conference, Nordes and aske our PhD students to present and discuss how their design research can be seen through the lens of scale, scalability and situatedness.

Format: 30 minutes per PhD student: 20-minute slide presentation, followed by 10 minutes discussion.

As always, we invite PhD students to interpret the theme in a way that makes sense to each, but to in some way relate to notions of scale and situatedness in relation to their work. 

For information and participation, contact:
Introduction and overview of the day (Johan Redström & Brendon Clark)
Nicholas Torretta - Anti-oppressive and decolonial design for sustainability
Catharina Henje - Designing for diversity
Anja Neidhardt - Designing tactics as means to re-design design
Xaviera Sánchez de la Barquera Estrada - Co-designing to make other worlds possible
Discussion and Mingle

November 24 - Queering Design Museums: Scaling Up and Out with Anja Neidhardt

13:10-15:00 via Zoom

The design discipline is interwoven with structures that either privilege or oppress people on basis of their gender, sexual orientation, skin color and origin, financial circumstances, belief, dis/abilities and other aspects (Canli & Prado, 2016). By collecting and exhibiting design results that are involved in discriminative structures, design archives/museums legitimise these practices. And not only this, they also exclude certain groups of people and certain design practices and artefacts. Inviting more diversity into established design museums might be one option. However, if we apply a different scale, a range of further options unfolds. In my research seminar I will present 5 approaches that become visible through applying an alternative scale, and then elaborate on one of them. My presentation will be followed by an open discussion about the topic and my approach. This work-in-progress is linked to a contribution that I want to make to the design conference Nordes with its theme "Matters of Scale".

Note: This page will be updated with an attachment of the paper/ or instructions to request it closer to the event.

December 8 - [Un]intended consequences of a Speculative Design with Marije de Haas

13:10-15:00 via Zoom

Traditionally speculative designs have been used in gallery settings and have a limited reach. This paper investigates speculative designs that have been used outside of the gallery in various other applications and discusses their potential implications. One particular case study of a speculative design created by the author of this paper "The Plug" is used to see the intended and unintended reach of such a design, and what this might mean for speculative design as a methodology.

Bio: Marije is a communication designer and a lecturer. Marije has been working in design practice in London (UK) and Umeå (SE), and is now based in the Netherlands. She is a lecturer at Umeå Institute of Design (SE) and creative director at F31 in Holland. Marije's PhD was investigating how design could aid communication in ethical dilemmas, specifically euthanasia in dementia. For her PhD research she created a couple of speculative designs to investigate specific dilemmas inherent in the euthanasia debate, such as assessing suffering, autonomy and timing.

December 15 - Final PhD Seminar with Aditya Pawar

Open collaborative design: Participatory design between situated collaborations and the discourses of openness - Aditya Pawar with Discussant Åsa Ståhl (Linnaeus University)

If you would like to participate, write to for Zoom link.


Designers have recognised the expanded scope of when and where design happens; and the active role of local communities in designing the systems that they use or places that they inhabit. The scope of participatory designer's role has also expanded to infrastructuring and staging design processes as participants in a community's activities and in their socio-cultural environments. Often in situations that are rarely ever stable. In this changing context, this research investigates the increasingly ambiguous concept of openness in participatory design for social innovation. As such, openness deals with products, processes, practices and frameworks that are open to participation from a wide variety of people. As used in this research, Openness is conceptually and operationally bound to democratic values as a part of participatory design through a lineage of open source production and innovation practices; therefore, crucial for designers to unpack. At stake is the uncritical adoption of this concept by designers in initiatives that pursue socially progressive ends, often assuming it to be apolitical.

This research intends to develop capacity around the concept of openness as inclusion by prototyping of a practice. This prototypical practice aims to investigate the practice-based design ontologies brought to bear on sites and situations deemed to be open (open-to-participation) as a means of making the politics of participation visible; and to support and strengthen processes of inclusion where they appear inadequate. This research does not answer what openness is in general or impose a new taxonomy to understand it. Instead, it examines the work that particular notions of openness do to participatory design practice and how designers can respond to it.

The research practice consists of a series of three thematic enquiries, each of which includes a subset of smaller design engagements. The first set of thematic studies takes place amongst urban and rural food-producing communities, and the consecutive two studies take place within an open-innovation environment and in a higher education context, respectively. Each of these studies explores how designers can organise collaboration in a manner conscious of the constitutive effects of contemporary practices that call for openness.

Open collaborative design, the title of this dissertation, is a proposition for caring for a condition of openness as inclusion, implying the commitment of the designer to democratic values beyond the limits of design projects and site boundaries. The dissertation contributes a set of sensibilities and theoretical-practical anchors for participatory designers to reflect and respond to multiple interpretations of the openness concept, and to strengthen aspects of inclusion in sites and situations assumed to be open. This dissertation, in addition to contributing to the field of participatory design, also exposes the paradox behind some of the common interpretations of openness and in doing so contributes to fields that are concerned with supporting democratic values such as for social innovation.

Research Seminars - 2019

February 6 - Designing public participation: Tensions and Responsibilities between design and democracy with Maja Frögård

I will present a chapter from my thesis (in process) in which I discuss different notions of democracy through design examples and political philosophy to support designers to challenge understandings of democracy in their practices.

How does a state driven public process differ for a designer to engage with in relation to working for companies or private interests? Being engaged in planning processes in two different municipalities and state employed through Konstfack, I would consider the responsibilities of the designer, of myself, to be towards democratic aims. However, there are many interpretations of democracy in design; the use of democracy is connected to different purposes and agendas. Some find participation crucial, others see activism as fundamental, while others rely on the relations to institutions. In political philosophy and theory democracy is seen as unresolvable, consisting of questions and tensions that has been given different answers throughout history and depending on context. These tensions from practice and philosophy are foundational for understanding democracy as ongoing negotiations rather than something that can be resolved. Since design is practiced within different parts of society, this implies that a responsible design practice requires not only an understanding of democracy but also the frames and part of society we practice within. Rather than providing an answer of how to interpret democracy this opens up for further questions concerning designer autonomy and our relation to institutions; whose interests we are serving, how our understandings of democracy differ and who we choose to align with. 

Maja Frögård is a PhD candidate at the Art, Technology and Design program, a collaboration between Konstfack and KTH, and currently guest PhD at UID. Her projects in different ways concerns the politics of what ideas, values and realities designers partake in materializing through giving shape to things, situations and environments.  

March 26 - Practices of participation with Maria Göransdotter

13.15-15.00, Research Studio, Umeå Institute of Design

The seminar will introduce a thesis chapter draft on the theme of the concept of 'participation' as approached in user-centered design practices, addressing how a Swedish design history of this concept might be told.

October 2 - Obstacles & risks in the traffic environment for users of powered wheelchairs with Catharina Henje

In this research seminar, Catharina will present and discuss a collaborative design project and a nearly-completed paper focusing on risks and obstacles in traffic environment for users of a powered wheelchair (PWC). Currently, knowledge and attention is low for users of PWC in contexts of traffic safety as they lack their own sub-category in traffic injury statistics, making them invisible, and as very few studies are done with users on real-life experiences. PWC users are, part of an aging population, and an ever-growing group of citizens, which further emphasizes the need to be regarded in city and traffic planning. The team of researchers  from social science, traffic safety, physiotherapy, and interaction design, selected material, in the form of contextual videos and interviews, derived from an earlier qualitative study, and analysed and categorized them according to human, vehicle (PWC), and environmental factors. The findings reflect the researchers observations and the target group's own experiences of existing traffic risks in built environment. For a copy of the draft paper, send a mail to

13.15-15.00 in the Administration Conference Room.

October 15 - On/Un-Certainty with Johan Redström

In this seminar Johan will introduce thoughts on design education he will be developing for an upcoming publication. 

13:15-15:00, Red Room

November 5 - Making Methods with Maria Göransdotter

Research Studio, 13.15-15.00 

The seminar will focus on the development of user-centered design methods at the 1940s Home Research Institute, in the form of a chapter draft from Maria's nearly-completed PhD dissertation with the working title Potential pasts, possible futures: making transitional design histories.

November 12 - Feminist Approaches to Design (Education) with Anja Neidhardt

The seminar will start with Anja briefly introducing the work of the platform depatriarchise design that she co-creates with Maya Ober. This presentation will be followed by a discussion of a paper that she wrote in collaboration with Maya Ober and Prof. Griselda Flesler. The paper (working title "Pedagogy of Discomfort") is a conversation on the topic of feminist design education with specific focus on the Design and Gender Studies Department at the Faculty of Architecture and Design FADU University of Buenos Aires, which is headed by Griselda.

November 13 - Looking Out from the Stall: Hygiene Resources, Maintenance, and the Internet of Things with Sarah Fox

Abstract: Restrooms may appear far from contemporary sites of innovation. But over the past decade, corporations and public institutions have begun developing internet of things (IoT) technologies for these spaces in ways that increasingly define people's experiences of hygiene resources. Drawing on a 3-year multi-sited ethnographic study, Sarah Fox will discuss how digital technologies entwine with existing forms of collaborative labor to sharpen managerial control of public restroom access and maintenance. Informed by this work, she will describe her collaboration with local activists and custodial staff to reimagine these technologies. Across 18 months throughout the city of Seattle, she developed and deployed a networked sensor designed to support the needs of people without regular access to everyday hygiene resources. This work highlights and contends with a tendency for IoT devices to prioritize concerns for cost-reducing efficiencies and regulatory techniques, rather than support collective responsibility-a concern of increasing importance as design and human-computer scholarship attends to data ethics in public life.

Bio: Sarah Fox is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute. Her research focuses on how technological artifacts challenge or propagate social exclusions, by examining existing systems and building alternatives. Her work has earned awards in leading computing venues including ACM CSCW, CHI, and DIS, and has been featured in the Journal of Peer Production and New Media and Society. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Centered Design & Engineering from the University of Washington and has worked in design research at Microsoft Research, Google, and Intel Labs.

December 10 - Design, power and colonisation: decolonial and anti-oppressive explorations on three approaches for design for sustainability with Nicholas Torretta

Our contemporary world is organized in a modern/colonial structure. As people, professions and practices engage in cross-country Design for Sustainability (DfS), projects have the potential of sustaining or changing modern/colonial power structures. In such project relations, good intentions in working for sustainability do not directly result in liberation from modern/colonial power structures. In this paper we introduce three approaches in DfS that deal with power relations. Using a Freirean (1970) decolonial perspective, we analyse these approaches to see how they can inform DfS towards being decolonial and anti-oppressive. We conclude that steering DfS to become decolonial or colonizing is a relational issue based on the interplay between the designers' position in the modern/colonial structure, the design approach chosen, the place and the people involved in DfS. Hence, a continuous critical reflexive practice is needed in order to prevent DfS from becoming yet another colonial tool. 

Nicholas B. Torretta is a PhD student at UID focusing on anti-oppressive and decolonial approaches in Design for Sustainability.

Research Seminars - 2018

30 January - Threshold for embracing togetherness with Monica Lindh Karlsson

We have investigated industrial design and ways to open up for involvement while doing design together in terms of aesthetics. Although aesthetics historically have been approached in various ways, we have found the role for a designer as responsible for a whole as ruling social order have not changed. Hence, we have highlighted the threshold of designers acknowledged to be responsible for a whole and keeping things together. Through project courses in design education with multi-disciplinary teams we have explored ways to break with pre-dominating social orders that position designers as responsible. From our initial investigations we argue that design doing can embrace democracy in terms of aesthetics, if we recognize those involved as accountable for a whole. Such re-thinking of social orders allows aesthetics to shift gravity from a programmatic order based on one position, toward a distribution of several voices to be heard and a collective exploration of a whole.

We have found that industrial design can be pushed toward a social order framed as shared accountability for a whole in terms of aesthetics. We have articulated that industrial design can be pushed toward an aesthetic order allowing a poetical and socio-political aesthetic to emerge, distributing recognition of several voices and positions toward a whole.

If we are to develop industrial design to meet contemporary challenges of e.g. democratization and diversity, we might need to consider designers' capacity to bring in diversity through poetical socio-political aesthetics. Hence, we need to question how social orders position designers as responsible for a whole, and subsequently the way we organize and conduct design education.

6 February - Taxonomies of openness with Aditya Pawar

The proliferation of the term openness in design practice, often in combination with rhetoric of diversity, innovation and creativity has made it a buzzword. As the term continues to be part of a designer's vocabulary it's meaning increasingly becomes obscured. This presentation tries to enhance the conceptual clarity of the term and distinguishes 4 concepts of openness from: object-oriented, organisational, socio-economic and the socio-political. Each concept has a different understanding of openness based on its historicity and the choice of methodology that its practitioners espouse. This presentation also points to the values and stakes ascribed to each stance. In this presentation, I will argue for the need to develop a critical conversation based on a figure- ground relationship between collaboration and openness, which will help us to make sense of the objects, values, motives of collaborations in participatory design projects.
This presentation is an iteration of the chapter 'framing openness' from the draft of my 50% thesis and will be presented as a conversation prompted by examples from my thesis work.

22 February - Performative Citizenship: A design intervention with Umea toward a civic co-production with Arianna Mazzeo

Topic: Design interventions are signals of social making in the city all over the world. What if Umea is the open lab of opportunity for all?
Researching trough design and performative ethnography we explore how theory and practice are inseparable in the making of our
AUDIENCE: Design Students, Encounters, Faculty, Phds, Community, Citizens.
ROOM: With flexible space, projector, internet, open space for working in groups and move around the space, outside
METHODOLOGY: Co-design, Performative Design Ethnography
FACILITATOR: Arianna Mazzeo ( DesisLab Elisava Director and Director Masterlab Service Design Systems, Exploring place and community through design research)
MATERIALS: internet, projector, mobile ( your own).
LEARNING OUTCOMES: You will learn how co-design a performative design intervention with Umea citizens, working with a multidisciplinary team of Umea Faculty, phDs, Researchers and encounters.

Arianna Mazzeo
Arianna is Design Research and Social Digital Innovation Professor as well she is the Director of the Masterlab in Service Design Systems, and Head of International Relations at the Elisava Barcelona School of Design and Engineering, Barcelona, Spain. Involved in European Innovation Projects since 2000, she coordinates under the frame of the Open Design Program, the first European Open Design School based on the open culture values, collaboration and co-design with community and collaborative cities, to open new scenarios in design education trough design research. She holds a PhD in Design Ethnography and she is responsible for the design research group Cambio / Changes, helping professionals, private and public institutions, cultural and creative hubs, administrations, foundations, associations and creative industries as well as informal groups to research through design for a real impact. From September 2017, she lead with Ezio Manzini,  the Desis Network Cluster " Design for City- Making" to explore how cities can play a role in generating, or regenerating, urban commons. She has worked in Cameroon, Mexico, Turkey, Armenia, and South Africa on social digital innovation programs and local government policy agenda, in order to re-design and re-think design education through new open educational resources (OER) and new learning formats outside the classroom, in the city as the open lab of opportunities for all.

6 March - The Structure of Thesis with Morteza Abdipour

In this seminar, I will present my thesis contents and discuss about the chapters with more details. Some failures and lessons that I have learnt so far by doing my Ph.Licentiate dissertation.

The structure of this thesis has influenced by constructive design and practice based research methodology. Particularly, I apply upon the use of the program approach and developing the whole thesis by tiding the lab prototyping and experiments together with theoretical elements. Such this structure provides possibility of emerging invisible work relationships between Digital Wallpaper (DW) and people.

20 March - The art of dying well with dementia with Marije de Haas

My research is about euthanasia in dementia, based on the dutch legal framework for euthanasia. Euthanasia in dementia is legally possible in the Netherlands, but in practise this rarely happens because the symptoms of dementia clash with the due care criteria for euthanasia: the patient must be able to consent at the time of death, and there must be unbearable and hopeless suffering.

I am trying to address these problems through speculative designs. I am creating three speculations that each tackle a specific problem area:

1) A person may have a rational and considered request for euthanasia in case of dementia, however, doctors can't or won't comply with this request if the patient in question can't confirm this request at time of death (even if this is because of the symptoms of dementia).
> Can we alleviate physician's responsibility in considering euthanasia requests?

2) Suffering is hard to assess; it is subjective and context based. Suffering is even harder to assess when one can't communicate effectively with the person whose suffering you are trying to measure.
> How can we measure suffering in dementia?

3) Ideas on what is a good death vary over time and cultures. In contemporary western culture death is a taboo and rarely discussed. When death is considered by those who are terminally ill, or professionally engaged in this subject, it is preferred to die "prepared", to finish what is important and to leave your loved-ones able to cope without you.
> How can one have a good death in dementia?

For this seminar I would like to hold a design crit. I will present the three speculations and I invite you to critically appraise the speculations crafted and give me feedback.
• Do the speculations I have crafted (successfully) address the problem areas identified?
• How can I best use these speculations to further the debate?

I would also like to reflect on:
• Using design in design research: how do we address the quality of the designs created?
• Using design in design research: how can we write about the designs created?
• Using design in design research: how can we invite readers to observe the designs created in their original intended form (i.e. how do we get them to click a link and watch a video?)

10 April - On Disaffordances and Dysaffordances with D. E. Wittkower

Despite the still-tempting myth of technological neutrality, examples of technologies with political effects surround us, and their politics are better and better recognized-from the racist Band-Aid or "flesh colored" crayon, to the sexism of "girls" and "boys" toys, to the enforcement of ethic and gender categories in data entry fields. Research on the politics of technology is also longstanding and ongoing, from Langdon Winner's 1980 "Do artifacts have politics" to Safiya Umoja Noble's just-published Algorithms of Oppression.

This presentation seeks to support research on the politics of technology by framing a theory of disaffordances and dysaffordances. I argue that a systematic theory is necessary to clarify when technologies pass from being merely inconvenient or badly designed to being discriminatory, and present a couple of ways of getting at that distinction through extensions to affordance theory. While this work is directed toward supporting research with new theory, the talk will not be technical, and will address a series of lively examples, including racist webcams, sexist baby strollers, religious discrimination in calendars, and sexist thermostat settings.

10 April - Unnecessary and not impossible: Critique and design as the drivers, challenges, and consequences of accidence with Bruno Gransche

The impossible, the possible, and the necessary are three modal domains. If one wants to learn about worldviews, ambition, skills, or self-efficacy of others, it pays off to analyze how they classify entities with regard to these domains. The extension of each domain varies historically, ideologically, and individually but the extension of the possible is the only one in which decisions and actions matter. The impossible and the necessary cannot be altered by actors. The possible can. Challenging these definitions is an act of modal criticism and a prerequisite to the shaping of futures.

Throughout the history of philosophy, the entities belonging to these modal domains underwent significant changes: Aristotelian ontology differentiates between inalterable substances that inhere essential attributes and nonessential accidents; Descartes opposed the two substances res cogitans and res extensa; empiricism and sensualism foster experience and perception as epistemologically primary to substance; Kant positioned substance as the hypothetical persisting rest within the changes of perceptible qualities; phenomenology emphasized the givenness of the world for a consciousness and so on. These drifts predominantly follow one direction: from the eternal towards the alterable, from the impossible and necessary towards the possible.

For the therefore increasingly growing domain of the "unnecessary and possible" I propose the term accidence. The histories of philosophy, of sciences in general, and of technological "progress" show an expansion of accidence. Criticizing the respective definitions of the necessary and the impossible is one driver of this expansion. Actual attempts to shape and design the newly possible informs the observer about the hypothetically possible and the actually possible subdomains.

Critique and design, technological and social progress expand the accidence domain. I will discuss this dynamic as well as its effects and challenges. If almost everything can be potentially different - what follows from that: a wider future or no future at all?

13 April - Reflecting on Navigating Between STS and Design Practice with Holly Robbins

In this seminar, I will reflect on some of the tensions that emerged in the course of conducting my PhD research navigating between science and technology studies (STS) and design practice. As a design researcher, I was concerned with theorizing "the black box" and how design could potentially support approaches to make it more legible. From STS I was working with Albert Borgmann's work on the device paradigm and focal things and practices. I made inquires into his work with a methodological cocktail of research through design and design anthropology.

This discussion will not be so much about the content of the research itself, but more of a reflection on my own experiences, and teasing out some of the tensions that emerged in navigating between STS and design practice. These tensions reflected different styles of working, values and assumptions. In particular, I found that between design practice and STS there were tensions between working with different levels of specificity and abstraction, reference points, and modes of evaluation. In this seminar I will first elaborate and contextualize some of these tensions that I experienced, but I hope to use this seminar as an opportunity to share and discuss our own experiences and reflections in trans-disciplinary design research.

8 May - Participatory design between situated collaborations and the rhetoric of openness with Aditya Pawar

This practice-based research sets out to investigate and intervene in practices of community based participatory design as effected by the rhetoric of openness. The thesis proposes the re-articulation of openness as it relates to the relational core of collaborative design. At stake here is the uncritical adoption of an increasingly ambiguous notion of openness inparticipatory design, which can create new forms of closure. Through a programmatic enquiry between the practices and rhetoric of openness, I propose three dimensions of open-collaboration that draw out a field of operation for designers. The practice based research elements include situated participatory design engagements with communities within and outside institutional boundaries. The first set of studies (Study 1) takes place with food producing communities and consecutive studies (study 2 and 3) take place within an open maker-space environment and in a design classroom respectively. Each study highlights a particular form of open-collaboration. Relating these particular instantiations of opencollaborations (as expressed by the studies) in relation to the research programme provides us with ways to reposition our participatory practices.

The thesis contributes a theoretical-practice toolbox to reposition a participatory design practice as forms of open-collaboration. And in general, create the conditions for a responsible society characterized by collective agency and the capacity to respond to local needs.

22 May - Writing workshop: Finding your little place / Conceptual tools for constructing arguments with Trang Vu

This workshop focuses on how an argument can be constructed building on existing theories/concepts while opening up new perspectives. As an author, you are often expected to assertively put your points across, clearly convince readers of their significance, and demonstrate that the points are argued from rigorous critical reading. This can be a challenging task. Some of our observations from the last Academic Writing workshop in Autumn 2017 show that UID writers found themselves ¨the invisible me", "the inauthentic me", "the frustrated me", "the lagom scholar me" when working with theories and trying to communicate their own stance. This workshop provides you with an opportunity to look at your text and evaluate your own little space of argumentation. You will also start to reflect on and analyse your author's voice.

To prepare for the workshop, please bring a sample of 3 or 4 pages from your thesis or an assignment that you are working on. The writing should come from a part where you discuss your research in connection with theories/key concepts.

Please also send the sample to Trang Vu ( by end of Thursday 17/5/18.

October 16th - A Real Imaginary Experiment with Enrique Encinas 

13:15-15:00, October 16, 2018 - Red Room, UID 

The life of a design research PhD happens among a cohort of real and fictional objects. There are materials and possibilities, words and ideas, objects and events. Telling the fictional and the real apart is a challenging task that might not make sense at all when designing. In this seminar I propose to take a look at a very real thing for a PhD: a paper published. It is a real paper about real people that write real words about real problems without revealing their real identities. It addresses a real issue about an imaginary paradigm for HCI researchers. It supports its real argument not through the use of real data but through real abstracts from imaginary papers. In bringing this paper to your attention I'd like to share not only what it is but how it came to be and the objects I considered real or fictional in the process. My presentation will be brief so we can have fun chasing the real and fictional objects that makes a PhD what it is.

I am a designer who studied electrical engineering in ETSIT (Madrid), semiconductor tech in NTU (Taiwan) and participatory design in SDU (Denmark). I have briefly supported artists in Medialab Prado (Madrid) and technical systems in Vodafone Spain. Now I am working on a PhD in Northumbria University by researching the region of the design spectrum where fiction is most visible.

Recommended pre-reading: "Making Problems in Design Research: The Case of Teen Shoplifters on Tumblr." Encinas, Enrique, Mark Blythe, Shaun Lawson, John Vines, Jayne Wallace, and Pamela Briggs. Montreal, Canada, 2018. 

October 30th - Anti-oppressive design for sustainabilities: whose design, whose sustainability?, with Nicholas B. Torretta: 

Can design for sustainability be non-oppressive and decolonial? How do we deal with diverse ways of being with and as worlds in design? In this seminar I introduce a project that explored directions for anti-oppressive DfS by engaging with diverse forms of being with and as worlds in design. Posing the need of increasing situated awareness, relationality, humbleness and care in design, the findings from the project will serve as starting point to discuss oppression and colonization in design and the possible ways for transforming design for sustainabilities into being non-oppressive and non-colonial.
Nicholas B. Torretta is a Brazilian designer with focus on the social interaction aspects of design for sustainability. He has been working with design for sustainability in Sweden, Finland, Mexico, Mozambique and Brazil. Currently Nicholas is a PhD candidate at Umeå Institute of Design, where his research concerns anti-oppressive and non-colonial approaches to design as a way to nurture diversity through design

November 13 - Conceptualizing digital mediation: Structures, dynamics, and consequences with Heather Wiltse

Everyday life has come to be digitally mediated to a quite significant extent. This mediation includes both intentional use of connected things as well as other forms of contact with the myriad touchpoints of what have become planetary-scale computational processes and flows. Digital mediation cannot be understood solely in terms of intentional use and user experience, since much of what they are and do falls outside of this frame. This paper argues that incisive conceptualization of digital mediation in general is therefore needed in order to understand and articulate the role digital things now play in not only experience, but also in distributions of power and agency, visibility and invisibility-and to provide insight on how to design in order to better care for their consequences. The paper attempts to outline some key elements of such a framework, pulling together and integrating previous work. It begins by considering earlier modes of sense-making in relation to technologies and how they have shifted to accommodate changes in understanding of what technologies are and can be, and the roles that they play in everyday life and society. It then begins to lay the groundwork for some basic shifts currently needed in order to grapple with connected digital things. It does this through proposing and articulating a set of structures, dynamics, and associated consequences of digital mediation that can be used to frame further investigation.
Heather Wiltse is currently Assistant Professor at Umeå Institute of Design, Umeå University (Sweden). Her transdisciplinary research centers around trying to understand and critique the role of digitally connected, responsive, and changing things in experience and society in ways that can inform response-able design.  Building on a background in informatics, human-computer interaction, design, and communication and culture, Heather's research focus currently sits primarily at the intersection of design studies and philosophy of technology.  Her recent book  Changing Things: The Future of Objects in a Digital World  (with Johan Redström) investigates and articulates what has become of things as computational processes, dynamic networks, and contextual customisation now emerge as factors as important as form, function and material were for designing, using and understanding objects in the industrial age.

Research Seminars - 2017

24 January - Pata-design Post-50%, Part II with Søren Rosenbak

My research concerns the prototyping of a pataphysically infused critical design practice (what I've come to refer to as pata-design). In this seminar, I'll pick up some of the key discussion points from my 50% seminar in June 2016, in order to sketch out future research trajectories for the year ahead. In this way, I hope to have an informal discussion about ways to move forward. Hope to see you there!

7 February - Mediating (infra)structures: Technology, media, environment with Heather Wiltse

This will be a text seminar based on a forthcoming book chapter.

The underlying argument of the chapter is that it is crucially important to (re)consider the intellectual tools that are brought to bear on phenomena and practices involving contemporary networked computational things. These are things that are often very active and interconnected; and they have functions and behaviors that are hidden beneath user-facing surfaces and may even be very different from the functionality and character a person experiences during interactions with and through it. This state of affairs calls for new conceptual and analytic lenses that build on the strengths of existing ones, but also recognize the inadequacies of existing perspectives and thus develop in the new directions that are required. The chapter develops the analytic lens of mediating (infra)structures as a way to synthesize these matters that are foregrounded, and to point toward new analytic directions and sensitivities that are required.

21 February - Drifting with Monica Lindh Karlsson

At our research seminar next week we will do a workshop together.

The aim of the workshop-seminar is to collectively, and individually, explore our research landscapes in our project and studies in terms of experimentation and 'drifting'.

We will take the notion of 'drifting' as our point of departure and critically explore our own programmes e.g. how we see actions building up our arguments, how things related, or not relate, to our programmes.
Peter Gall Krogh presented his project of drifting at an earlier research seminar at UID.  However, since not all of us where there at time and others might want to re-fresh his idea of drifting, I attach the article that Peter Gall Krogh has written together with Thomas Markussen and Anne Louise Bang.

In the workshop seminar we will create our own tentative visualization of our programmes and use them for discussing and problematize ways of conducting Research Through Design from our own positions. (Think of the visualization that I presented at our last PhD Festival 2016). We will look into and discuss things that are concerns of issues for us and also collectively reflect over our materials.

Everyone are asked to bring issues, perspectives and challenging concerns to the workshop.

7 March - Aesthetics of Being together with Stoffel Kuenen

A workshop on the trajectory of an argument from set-up to closure in a dissertation.

28 March - Inquiries into limitations and possibilities to regulate design situations with Daniela Rothkegel

My research combines a design perspective with a systemic approach on the role of information generation. The focus of my research is methodological. I am interested into the generation and handling of information in human-technology relationships with the help of intermediary objects. Intermediary objects are transitional states of products. Therefore I am investigating into the basis for designers to understand the content of ideas practically while making proposals.

18 April - Designing collaboration for commoning: micro-power dynamics in urban transitions with Janaina Teles Barbosa

I would like to invite you for my seminar where I will talk about the main topics of my research project and the challenges that I am facing at the moment.

The title of my PhD research project is: Designing collaboration for commoning: micro-power dynamics in urban transitions. I am examining the roles of design agency in the experience of making together in urban design practices, asking: How can design practices create, support and sustain transition spaces that facilitate transition practices for commoning in urban communities? Thus, I am exploring this issue though a qualitative analyse of four case studies, two in Brazil and two in Portugal.

About me:
I´m a PhD student in Design at the Aveiro University in Portugal and I am currently a visiting PhD guest student at the UID where I intend to improve the methodology of my ongoing research through a knowledge exchange with other students at UID.

My background is in Anthropology and Visual Arts. In the past 10 years, I have been working in research projects related with the production of meanings related with the production of traditional handcrafts in rural communities in Brazil, including artistic community interventions for social inclusion. Moreover, I have also been developing personal artistic projects on the scope of urban performances, art installations and photography.

2 May - Questioning the past to ask the future with Nicholas Baroncelli Torretta

My PhD research concerns the interplay between learning, practicing and teaching in collaborative design for sustainability. I pay special attention to how we articulate and address the power relations and privilege of positions involved in such design practices.

9 May - 50% seminar onwards: Design for open collaborations with Aditya Pawar

The seminar traces the feedback from Aditya's 50% seminar and the reflections between research programme and experiment.
The seminar will bring up questions on how the research is positioned within a community of practice, what methodological choices have been made and end with what might an exemplar of such a design proposal look like.

16 May - Embodiment of people and convey the influences of large display at domestic environment with Morteza Abdipour

Imagine in coming years we go to a store and buy some rolls of digital wallpaper. After installing in an environment, the entire of surface becomes interactive display. This might be interesting, but how home environment will change when we use Large display at home? What large display can do in real world?

In this seminar, I attempt to present the general understanding of the key elements that are necessary to make the structure of this research and particularly the main ones to formulate the research question. There are many ways to study but the main challenge is how do I choose the choices? The model and examples that I will argue in this complex subject tries to give a tangibility of situation to understand the notion of large display and scale of application. This might help me to identify what do I need to fulfil the research program among of methodological choices.

Last month, I set up some studies in the Design Lab to explore people's behaviour in terms of experiencing ambient large display. I will present briefly the observations that express what did people do during different sessions? How they adapted their behaviour? What they require to experience appropriately in terms of using big screens as virtual environment in the lab?

5 September - Humble design with Nicholas Torretta


12 September - Speculative design: An Advance Euthanasia Directive for Dementia with Marije De Haas

In this seminar we explore the ethical complexities around euthanasia requests for dementia.

5 December - Design and open-collaboration in post-industrial society with Aditya Pawar


12 December - Special double bill: Design fiction bonanza! with Marije de Haas & Søren Rosenbak



Latest update: 2023-02-06