Abstract

User-centred product development and design can be carried out with differing degrees of user participation: for users, with users, and by users. A project characterized by a co-design approach, i.e. design ‘with’ rather than ‘for’ or ‘by’ users, was carried out during the spring of 2009. The co-design teams consisted of children (a total of 45, between 10 and 11 years old) and 10 product developers/designers (teachers and students from an industrial design engineering university programme). The overall theme for the co-design exercise was food, eating and health, a theme which the children had researched as co-researchers during the autumn of 2008. The design project followed a structured design process, including problem identification, idea generation, concept development, etc., supported by typical methods and tools such as various brainstorming techniques, formulation of evaluation criteria and concept screening. Working in teams of 3-4 children and one developer/designer, various problems were identified and solutions proposed. The problems included for example “healthy sweets”, “keeping wasps away from the lemonade glass”, and “how to make washing up more fun”. The results from the process consisted of for example a healthy sweets advertising campaign, several “wasp traps”, and a new type of dishwasher based on the principle of a record player. However, the results also encompassed experiences from co-designing with users. Some of these experiences were considered the consequence of the fact that the children were indeed children, and are thus considered relevant only for other projects involving children as co-designers. Maintaining focus and concentration, for example, was a key issue. Other experiences are considered more generic, i.e. issues which would emerge as important topics in any co-design process. Communicating an understanding of the product development process and the time required for the solution to develop from idea to prototype were regarded as such generic topics.

Keywords:

Co-Design, Participatory Design, Design With Children

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Jul 7th, 12:00 AM

Catching Wasps and Baking Dinosaurs: Experiences from Co-designing with Children

User-centred product development and design can be carried out with differing degrees of user participation: for users, with users, and by users. A project characterized by a co-design approach, i.e. design ‘with’ rather than ‘for’ or ‘by’ users, was carried out during the spring of 2009. The co-design teams consisted of children (a total of 45, between 10 and 11 years old) and 10 product developers/designers (teachers and students from an industrial design engineering university programme). The overall theme for the co-design exercise was food, eating and health, a theme which the children had researched as co-researchers during the autumn of 2008. The design project followed a structured design process, including problem identification, idea generation, concept development, etc., supported by typical methods and tools such as various brainstorming techniques, formulation of evaluation criteria and concept screening. Working in teams of 3-4 children and one developer/designer, various problems were identified and solutions proposed. The problems included for example “healthy sweets”, “keeping wasps away from the lemonade glass”, and “how to make washing up more fun”. The results from the process consisted of for example a healthy sweets advertising campaign, several “wasp traps”, and a new type of dishwasher based on the principle of a record player. However, the results also encompassed experiences from co-designing with users. Some of these experiences were considered the consequence of the fact that the children were indeed children, and are thus considered relevant only for other projects involving children as co-designers. Maintaining focus and concentration, for example, was a key issue. Other experiences are considered more generic, i.e. issues which would emerge as important topics in any co-design process. Communicating an understanding of the product development process and the time required for the solution to develop from idea to prototype were regarded as such generic topics.

 

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