Making Design Memoirs: Understanding and Honoring Difficult Experiences

Laura Devendorf, Kristina Andersen, Aisling Kelliher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Design is commonly understood as a storytelling practice, yet we have few narratives with which to describe the felt experiences of struggle, pain, and difficulty, beyond treating them as subjects to resolve. This work uses the praxis of embodied design as a way to bring more complex narratives to the community for contemplation - -to engage and entangle personal and difficult stories within a public context. We propose the term Design Memoirs for these first-person practices and reflections. Design Memoirs are subjective and corporeal in nature, and provide a direct and observable way to reckon with felt experiences through, and for, design. We demonstrate Design Memoirs by drawing on our own experiences as mothers, caregivers, and corporeal subjects. Following Barad, we propose a practice of diffractive reading to locate resonances between Design Memoirs which render difficult autobiographical material addressable, shareable, and open for new interpretations. We present this strategy as a method for arriving at deeper understandings of difficult experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2020 - Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
ISBN (Electronic)9781450367080
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2020
Event2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2020 - Hawaiʻi Convention Center, Honolulu, United States
Duration: 25 Apr 202030 Apr 2020


Conference2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2020
Abbreviated titleCHI 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • autobiographical design
  • design fiction
  • design memoirs
  • design research
  • methodology
  • motherhood


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