Guest post by Luke Dressel, USA


Many thanks to the codesign cluster here at KADK for hosting me for two weeks. The environment here truly is inspirational, from the large array of design artifacts and toolkits, to the proximity to students working in eight different design domains, to the group of forward-thinking and passionate design researchers. And the beautiful view of the Copenhagen harbor doesn’t hurt either!

My two weeks here is part of a broader six-week project I’m engaged in concerning participatory design. As a master’s student in the Human-Centered Design & Engineering [link to program in Seattle, USA, I have spent the past two years exploring methods, theories, and technical skills involved in interaction and user-experience design. Since being introduced to PD in a course last year about empirical research traditions, I’ve wanted to dig deeper into this domain. Moreover, two mentors of mine–in both academia and industry–presented work at last summer’s Participatory Design Conference in Roskilde, so this topic is one that has seeped into my work and academic lives.

Thanks to a fellowship grant from the Scan | Design Foundation in Seattle, I am able to visit Denmark this summer to hear directly from a range of design researchers about both the historical traditions of PD as well as the state-of-the-art. My project consists of a series of semi-structured interviews with design researchers at universities in Roskilde, Aalborg, Aarhus, as well as here at the Danish Design School and the University of Copenhagen.

Some of my research questions include:
– What is the state of the art of PD among Danish practitioners?
– How has PD’s evolution from its 1970s roots in Scandinavia to a popular methodology worldwide changed its concerns or focal points?
– How is PD taught to design students?
– What challenges and opportunities lie ahead for PD over the next ten years?

I have wrapped up most of my interviews by now and am starting to identify themes. Although it is certainly possible to get an understanding of PD by reading the literature, the act of traveling to Denmark to situate my research in this authentic context and having personal conversations is special and irreplaceable. The hospitality and warm welcome of the people at the codesign cluster is deeply appreciated. Even after I return home, I look forward to following the innovative scholarship and project work that emerge from this research center in the months and years to come.


About Eva Brandt

Eva Brandt is Professor in Social Design at Design School Kolding since May 2019. Before she was professor (MSO) at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation, and holds a Ph.D from 2001. Eva is scientific leader of the Lab for Social Design. Previously she was co-leading the Center for Research in Codesign (CODE). Since September 2014 she has been part of the main faculty for a two year international MA-program in codesign. The main part of her research is about how designers can stage open design processes (design labs) with many participants who both can inquire into existing practices and explore possible futures in common. She also contributes to theorizing about experimental design research driven by programs and experiments. She has been contributing to several books such as Design Spaces (IT Press, 2005), Rehearsing the Future (The Danish Design School Press, 2010), XLAB (The Danish Design School Press, 2011), Facilitating Change – Using Interactive Methods in Organizations, Communities and Networks (Polyteknisk Forlag, 2011), and Routledge International Handbook of Participatory Design (Routledge, 2013). Eva has been chairing the Nordic Design Research Conference in 2013.

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