Meet Rita – She does research in the social aspects of dementia


Rita Maldonado Branco is a PhD student from the Doctoral Programme in Design from University of Porto and the Research Institute for Design, Media and Culture (ID+), Portugal. She is visiting CODE from the 24th April to the 2nd June 2015.

Rita completed her degree in Design at the University of Aveiro (2008) and graduated with distinction in MA Communication Design from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London (2012). She has worked as a graphic designer for Francisco Providência Design Studio in Porto, and the Design Against Crime Research Centre and Minus 9 Design Studio in London.


Her MA project explored communication design contributions to dementia. Having two people in the family living with Alzheimer’s disease, Rita proposed informative and more empathetic ways of representing dementia, as well as tools to mediate and facilitate the communication between her grandparents and her family. She is now taking this research forward through her PhD, focusing on the social aspect of dementia. Her research project explores how design can enable people with dementia and their families to develop personalised strategies to communicate, and if this can have an effect on their overall wellbeing. With the support of dementia care specialists, the study draws upon ethnographic and participatory methods to get a deeper understanding of the experience of dementia and engage those diagnosed, in the design process. This will be the foundation for the development and evaluation of personalised tools to facilitate interaction between people with dementia and their families, as well as the organisation of a series of co-design sessions, looking for ways to enable this population can create their own means of communication.

This work is funded by Portuguese national funds through the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

If you would like to know more, please get in touch:

About Eva Brandt

Eva Brandt is Professor in Social Design at Design School Kolding since May 2019. Eva is scientific leader of the Lab for Social Design. The main part of her research is about how designers can stage open design processes (design labs based on participatory design/codesign) 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). Practice Based Design Reseach (2017). Ledelse og samskabelse i den offentlige sektor (2018). Eva has been chairing the Nordic Design Research Conference in 2013, and are chairing the Nordes 2021 too.

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