Posted on

DPI52: Design for Social interaction in Neighbourhoods

Project proposed by Caroline Hummels, Jun Hu, Vera Winthagen, Philémonne Jaasma

dpi52We provide 4 specific contexts within the broad scope of this project. You will choose one of the following contexts, each with their own challenges, to work on during the semester.

The project takes a hands-on, embodied approach, using reflection as a mechanism to gain knowledge. Consequently, you will build from lo-fi to high-fi prototypes as of the first week, go into context to try them out, analyse and reflect on the process and outcome (documented in one-minute videos), and move to the new iteration. The process will be guided by reoccurring cross-coach feedback moments in which we discuss all the videos, so that we can share insights from different perspectives of the project directions amongst the project teams.

Design challenges

1) Social Cohesion for All (SCA)

This direction is situated in Coevering in Geldrop, with the Slimmer Leven network as stakeholders. In the frames of civil-participation and do-democracy, municipalities are getting more tasks and residents are asked to self-organise social wellbeing on a local scale. There are several neighbourhood centres and activities are organised for people to socialise with their neighbours or become active- but somehow only very few people take part. There is a large group of people sitting at home, hesitant to go out and connect to others. This group is the target group for your project. How can design increase social cohesion, including people who are normally excluded or exclude themselves? What is the value and benefit for these people to connect to others?
And, now that local governments are taking a step back, can design trigger people to engage themselves in self-organising social wellbeing together? How to design an incentive for different stakeholders to come together and collaborate for the informal care initiatives?

Based on the experience of the 2 previous semesters of this project direction we have some insights for this direction: firstly it is vital to apply what you will learn in the first weeks of this project about embodiment, engaging in social interactions and connecting to other people through the body.

Secondly, be aware of and reflect on your role as designer distinct from that of a social worker: do not focus on setting up activities (as a social worker would do this), but explore what design can bring, such as designing a wobbly public bench that creates personal interactions between residents when attempting to sit down or when standing up.

2) Neighbourhood Transformation Probes>Products (NTPP)

This direction is situated in Woensel West in Eindhoven, with local Social Design Collective Tante Netty as client. In the frames of civil-participation and do-democracy, municipalities are getting more tasks and residents are asked to self-organise social wellbeing on a local scale. The municipality encourages civil-initiatives, but municipality and society are two different worlds (system vs. life-world) and collaboration between the two poses a challenge. Designers can build a bridge for collaboration, for mutual understanding by creating a ‘new language’. This new language bypasses differences in background, power or education. We are talking about a language of bodily experience, elicited by interaction through designed Engagement probes.

Local neighbourhood organisations are required to work demand-driven, but how do you find out the demand amongst residents? Simply going out into the streets and asking people ‘what they want’ is not going to tap into their salient needs and wishes.
In this way, supporting initiatives, organisations, or caring neighbours cannot reach out to a person ‘in need’. Can you help people to articulate their question by design?
How to trigger desires for the future to bubble up? Moreover, how to communicate informal visions to the involved stakeholders, who reason from formal system-structures? And how to connect them into an active collaboration where they work on the desired transformation, together?

In this project you will design, based on the principle of embodied cognition, Engagement Catalysts and translate these into product(s) (-service systems) to answer the following question: How can stakeholders come together to transform the neighbourhood, by combining the strength of both formal- and informal organisations: the existing systems (government or corporate structures) and the life-world?

3) Co-designing in the Neighbourhood Towards Wellbeing (CoNToW)

This direction is situated in Eindhoven in collaboration with the municipality, CrossKnowledge, GGD and knowledge institutes TU/e, Fontys, Summa College Zorg and Sint Lucas College as partners. This project is about developing a toolbox and platform for co-creation of healthy lifestyles in neighbourhoods. Your design should support multi-directional learning between students, residents and health stakeholders, and facilitate them to co-create healthy living solutions in their neighbourhood. How can you couple students from the different school to work together and set-up co-design projects? How can you couple students from the different schools to learn outside in neighbourhoods together with residents and professionals? How can you design a kind of mobile Experiential Design Landscape that you can bring along to design new solutions for a healthy neighbourhood? How can you merge a physical and digital world when learning and working together with others?

During the previous semesters some first ideas for project directions were explored, such as a physical LinkedIn and a toolbox through which students can show and let students from other schools and backgrounds, experience what their study means and what they find important in designing for wellbeing.

Moreover, you will explore ideas through doing, together with all stakeholders. Consequently, you will make lo-fi prototypes as of days one to explore your ideas with the various students, residents, healthcare providers, and e-learning professionals. The emphasis will be on embodiment, engaging in social interactions and connecting to other people, at the cross-section of the physical and digital domain.

During the process you and the students from the other schools will make video diaries, which are combined and edited by the students from Sint Lucas, who will make a video documentary of the work.

4) Design for social interaction and social innovation in public spaces (SISI)

The design challenge in this project is to find ways to design a physical locus of interaction, a specific, physical device that opens the ‘digital’ action possibilities of a city to the physical ones. While the context is the city, it is up to the designer to choose and focus on a specific design challenges within that context: how to let people engage in social interaction in different meaningful ways depending on the specific location in a city, how to design installations and systems for public spaces, and how to operationalize the concept of context dependent action possibilities. We may also want to take the opportunity to further look into digital social innovation – how digital innovation could lead to social innovation.

System and service design is a new challenge in the field of Industrial Design. It breaks the ‘one person – one product’ dictum in favor of a system of (interactive) products consisting of many ‘nodes’. The systems under investigation are woven into the social fabric of our lives and form, more than ever before, an integral part of it. Societal relevance is not optional but a necessity for this new field of design.

Currently, the cities around us are coming to life in the digital world. How this digital city becomes meaningful to us remains to be seen but the first signs point towards visual solutions that augment the buildings, bridges, statues etc. in the urban environment with large projections and displays. This additional layer, a form of augmented reality, can be used as decoration, but also as public media where interesting, new forms of social interactivity can take place. The augmentation can happen on existing structures, but also can be an integrated part of design when it is on the drawing board.

One way to approach is with interactive public art installations. The current developments in digital public arts involves a significant amount of new materials and technology, resulting in new dynamic and interactive forms that require artists and designers to construct their work from a system point of view and with a good understanding of human-system interaction and related interface technologies. Art in this context is no longer about carving stones and casting bronze; it is time to sculpture the interactive experience.

Students in this project will be offered with opportunities to join the module DB218 “Design for Social Interaction in Public Spaces”, travelling to China during the module weeks, working together with a team of Chinese students. The travel cost will be partially covered and accommodation will be fully covered. See more at

Bio lecturers

Philémonne Jaasma graduated from the ID Master in 2014 with a co-design project for community learning in Ghana and during her Master she worked on neighbourhood development projects with emphasis on facilitating multi-stakeholder collaborations through design. As freshly started PhD-candidate she, together with her colleague Evert Wolters from Necker van Naem, concentrates on local co-design for shared governance in society, under the wings of DQI. She believes that many small people, who in many small places do many small things, can alter the face of the earth. As design-researcher, she is fascinated by how design can trigger people to do these ‘small things’ and therewith contribute to a bigger purpose, together.

Prof. dr. ir. Caroline Hummels is full professor Design Theory for Intelligent Systems within the Designing Quality in Interaction group at the department of Industrial Design, TU/e as well as Theme Leader Smart Environment, Health@TU/e. She has a background in Industrial Design Engineering and has been Director of Education at ID from April 2008 until August 2011. Her activities concentrate on designing for personal, social and societal transformation through aesthetic interaction with open, disruptive innovative systems. She is a designer-researcher with extensive experience in (interaction) design, education and research-trough design.

Vera Winthagen works as a project leader for social design projects at the well-known Eindhoven design agency VanBerlo. She functions as a bridge between different ways of thinking and different worlds and sees herself as a catalyst for social innovation. She looks for new solutions for old problems in society by taking the analysis deeper and wider and searching for the underlying causes of a symptom. Previously Vera has worked at social and sustainable design cooperative Ideal&Co. She owns Enjoy the Difference, a fair trade label that designs and imports lifestyle products from Kenya, where Vera lived and worked. She studied at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, the TUDelft and did her master in the man&Humanity department at the Design Academy Eindhoven.

Dr. Jun Hu is a Senior Member of ACM, currently an Associate Professor in Design Research on Social Computing at Department of Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), an Adjunct Professor at School of Digital Media, Jiangnan University. He is currently the co-chair of the working group “Art and Entertainment” of IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing) TC14 (Technical Committee on Entertainment Computing). He is the coordinator of the TU/e DESIS Lab in the DESIS network (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability). He serves the editorial boards for several international journals. He has more than 140 peer reviewed publications in conferences and journals in the field of HCI, industrial design, computer science and design education.

Description of partners and their contribution

Tante Netty is a social design collective with the aim to uncover the creativity of every person and they are specialised in their own neighbourhood, Woensel West. They provide this as the context for your project and will be the clients.

Evert Wolters on behalf of Necker van Naem is a political-administrative consultancy firm that works for municipalities across the Netherlands. It is specialised in the government system, political representation and (participatory) decision making processes and interested in using design to connect residents and municipalities in the shared governance of societal issues.