Materials in participatory design processes

N.B. Hansen

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 4 Research NOT TU/e / Graduation NOT TU/e)

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This dissertation presents three years of academic inquiry into the question of what role materials play in interaction design and participatory design processes. The dissertation aims at developing conceptual tools, based on Deweys pragmatism, for understanding how materials aid design reflection. It has been developed using a research-through-design approach in which the author has conducted practical design work in order to investigate and experiment with using materials to scaffold design inquiry. The results of the PhD work is submitted as seven separate papers, submitted to esteemed journals and conferences within the field of interaction design and HCI. The work is motivated both by the growing interest in materials in interaction design and HCI and the interest in design processes and collaboration within those fields. At the core of the dissertation lies an interest in the many different materials used during the design process: sketches, prototypes as well as the materials we shape products out of: physical and digital materials now form a unity of computation and physical materials that has given rise to a new research interest in design and materiality. The main results from the dissertation are an understanding of design materials that draws on pragmatist philosophy. The papers and overview article highlights how materials in a pragmatist perspective are more than the matter out of which we shape an idea. Rather they structure the entire process of inquiry, helping us frame problems, inspire solutions and try out these solutions in practice. This framework, developed in several of the submitted papers, is tested and illustrated through a series of experimental design cases.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aarhus University
  • Halskov, Kim, Promotor, External person
  • Dalsgaard, Peter, Copromotor, External person
Award date19 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

89 pages, PhD Dissertation - contains introductory comments, the overview article, abstracts and links to all papers appended in the final doctoral work


  • Participatory Design
  • Design processes
  • Creativity
  • Pragmatism


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