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 http://hcde.uw.edu] 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.