UID Research Seminars take place every second Tuesday at 13 (to 15)
in the Research Studio. It is open, and you are more than welcome
to join our discussions.
February 6 - Research Seminar
with Maja Frögård
participation - Tensions and Responsibilities between design and
13:15-15:00, Research Studio,
Umeå Institute of Design
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.
13 - Research Seminar with Heather
Conceptualizing digital mediation: Structures, dynamics,
13:15-15:00, Research Studio, Umeå Institute of
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.
October 30th - Research Seminar with Nicholas B.
Anti-oppressive design for sustainabilities - whose
design, whose sustainability?
13:15 - 16:00, Red Room, Umeå
Institute of Design
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
October 16th - A Real Imaginary Experiment
- Enrique Encinas
13:15-15:00, October 16, 2018 - Red Room,
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
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. http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/33898/.
22 May 2018, 13.15-15.00
Writing workshop - "Finding your little place: Conceptual
tools for constructing arguments"
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) by end of
8 May 2018, 13.15-15.00
Participatory design between situated collaborations and
the rhetoric of openness
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
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.
13 April 2018, 10.00-12.00
"Reflecting on Navigating Between STS and Design Practice"
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.
10 April 2018, 13.15-15.00
Research Seminar Double Bill
Tuesday 10 April 2018, 13.15-15.00
D. E. Wittkower
"On Disaffordances and Dysaffordances"
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
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.
"Unnecessary and not impossible - Critique and design as
the drivers, challenges, and consequences of accidence"
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
20 March 2018, 13.15-15.00
Marije de Haas
"The art of dying well - with dementia"
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
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
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
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
• 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?)
6 March 2018, 13.15-15.00
"The Structure of Thesis"
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
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.
22 Feb 2018, 13.15-15.00
"Performative Citizenship. A design intervention with Umea. Toward
a civic co-production"
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
AUDIENCE: Design Students, Encounters, Faculty, Phds,
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
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
6 Feb. 2018, 13.15-15.00
"Taxonomies of openness"
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
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.
30 Jan. 2018, 13.15-15.00
Monica Lindh Karlsson
"Threshold for embracing togetherness"
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.
16 Jan. 2018, 13.15-15.00
12 Dec. 2017, 13.00-15.00
Marije de Haas
Special double bill: Design fiction bonanza!
5 Dec. 2017, 13.15-15.00
"Design and open-collaboration in post-industrial society"
31 Oct. 2017, 13.15-15.00
24 Oct. 2017, 13.15-15.00
3 Oct. 2017, 13.15-15.00
Annika Bindler (University Library)
12 Sept., 13.15-15.00
Marije De Haas
"Speculative design: An Advance Euthanasia Directive for
In this seminar we explore the ethical complexities around
euthanasia requests for dementia.
5 Sept. 2017, 13.15-15.00
28 Aug 2017, 13.15-15.00
Semester kick-off and planning
16 May 2017, 13.15-15.00
"Embodiment of people and convey the influences of large display
at domestic environment"
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?
9 May 2017, 13.15-15.00
"50% seminar onwards: 'Design for open collaborations"
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.
2 May 2017, 13.15-15.00
"Questioning the past to ask the future"
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
18 April 2017, 13.15-15.00
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.
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.
4 April 2017, 13.15-15.00
28 March 2017, 13.15-15.00
"Inquiries into limitations and possibilities to regulate design
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
7 March 2017, 13.15-15.00
"Aesthetics of Being together"
A workshop on the trajectory of an argument from set-up to
closure in a dissertation.
21 Feb. 2017, 13.15-15.00
Monica Lindh Karlsson
At our research seminar next week we will do a workshop
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
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
Everyone are asked to bring issues, perspectives and challenging
concerns to the workshop.
7 Feb. 2017, 13.15-15.00
"Mediating (infra)structures: Technology, media,
This will be a text seminar based on a forthcoming book
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.
24 Jan. 2017, 13.15-15.00
"Pata-design Post-50%, Part II"
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!
An archive of previous years' seminars is found here