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Out of Scandinavia

Session chair: Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Polythechnic of Namibia

Cultural hybridity in participatory design

Samantha Merritt, Inidana University
Erik Stolterman, Indiana University

Abstract. In this paper we examine challenges identified with participatory design research in the developing world and develop the postcolonial notion of cultural hybridity as a sensitizing concept. While participatory design intentionally addresses power relationships, its methodology does not to the same degree cover cultural power relationships, which extend beyond structural power and voice. The notion of cultural hybridity challenges the static cultural binary opposition between the self and the other, Western and non-Western, or the designer and the user—offering a more nuanced approach to understanding the malleable nature of culture. Drawing from our analysis of published literature in the participatory design community, we explore the complex relationship of participatory design to international development projects and introduce postcolonial cultural hybridity via postcolonial theory and its application within technology design thus far. Then, we examine how participatory approaches and cultural hybridity may interact in practice and conclude with a set of sensitizing insights and topics for further discussion in the participatory design community.


New roles of designers in democratic innovation: A case study of the ingenuity of ageing

Yanki Lee, Hong Kong Design Institute
Denny K. L. Ho, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Abstract. This paper discusses a study of a group of retired academics that are actively ageing on their university campus in China. We worked with this group of ingenious older people and conducted a series of Creative Dialogues and Design Festivals to see how designers accomplish infrastructuring and mobilization in design participatory innovation for an ageing population. Inspired by the idea of the design process as Things and the concept of community-of-practice, we analysed how they design their lives. We found important new roles for designers in the critique of design ideology and the identification of utopian elements from the participants.


Design for well-being in China: Lessons learn from exploratory workshops

Pei-Chun Chen, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology
Xiaochun Wang, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications

Abstract. Co-design methods such as game-like design workshops have been developed in Western countries for years. Through game-like tasks, participants are able to participate equally in collaborative design. When Asian participants are involved, the social hierarchy tends to have a stronger influence on the group’s communication. The co-design method needs to be adjusted to suit the cultural context. In the field of participatory design, the transformation process from users’ needs to design inspiration is ambiguous and needs more explicit discussion. This paper describes our reflections on and lessons learned from a case study called “Active aging: designing for well-being in China” conducted in Beijing in 2011. Senior citizens aged 65 to 80 from the local community were involved in the participatory design process as potential end-users. In a series of three generative workshops, we incrementally adjusted the design tools and techniques in order to retrieve users’ insights and transmit the knowledge to the ideation phase. Three forms of artifacts, verbal stories, design debriefing and design cards, were explored and experimented with in our study. Through our action research, we also reflect on the limitations and challenges of conducting participatory design with seniors in China.


Endearing (re) encounters: Participatory design in a Latin-American popular context

David de los Reyes, Universidad de los Andes
Andrea Botero, Aalto University

Abstract. This paper addresses the invitation to embrace new territories by proposing a set of conceptual and methodological strategies to expand the PD toolkit when working within ‘popular cultures’. On the basis of PD research interventions in rural and urban popular contexts in Colombia, we reflect on experiences of designing in these territories, so far not very explored by the PD community. Set within a deeply unequal and hybrid society, PD efforts find in Colombian popular culture an opportunity for encounter and connection turning the design project into an ad hoc community able to trigger change.