I’ve been invited to participate in a live discussion on the Design Research Network website entitled Before and After Critical Design. For more information and to contribute to the discussion, see their website.
I will be giving a guest lecture on my use of critical artefacts within participatory design in Hasselt, Belgium on 9th February 2010. I will present examples from the projects where I have employed critical artefacts to foster innovation and discuss the rationale for my methods (the subject of my PhD research). This lecture is part of the A-Z series of lectures presented by the Z33 Centre for Contemporary Art and Design, more details on the Z33 website and the A-Z lectures website.
I’ve just spend an enjoyable two days working with the students on the IT Product Design masters course at the University of Southern Denmark in Sonderbørg. I ran a tutorial on the Critical Artefact Methods developed in my PhD, and we explored the use of critical artefacts in developing novel product ideas around the theme of indoor climate. The masters students came up with some great “crazy ideas” to stimulate debate with their groups of users and I look forward to seeing the end results of their project.
Bubbles: exploring ideas of personal and social spaces in a canteen, one of the critical artefacts produced by the group
The visit also provided an opportunity to hear more about the work of the SPIRE research centre. Their focus on participatory innovation drawing is interesting, drawing as it does ideas from the Scandinavian tradition of Participatory Design and notions of innovation from business management such as Lead Users.
Thank you to the students and staff in Sonderbørg for their hospitality, enthusiasm and stimulating discussions.
I ran a one-day workshop on my Critical Artefact Methods during the Nordic Design Research Conference. Seven people participated from a variety of backgrounds in both academia and industry including industrial/product design, interaction design, and ceramic art.
The aftermath of a busy workshop...
We had a busy day of presentations, discussions, making and role-play and debated the limitations of participatory design approaches when applied to innovation and the use of critical artefacts (and other designer-led interventions) for engaging people in creative thinking about novel product ideas.
I am running a one-day workshop on my critical artefact methods at the Nordic Design Research conference in Oslo at the end of August. Through this workshop I intend to disseminate and develop the design methods I have been developing in my PhD research, and stimulate debate about the role of ‘critical artefacts’ (the products of critical design and related practices) within human-centred and participatory design processes.
The workshop will include practical exercises applying critical artefact methods in ‘mini’ design projects alongside a discussion of their underlying methodology to enable designers to explore how they could utilise similar techniques in their own practice.
Participation in the workshop is open to all conference attendees (at an additional small cost). Register for the conference first then contact me directly (s [dot] bowen [at] shu [dot] ac [dot] uk) to sign up for the workshop. Early registration discounts end on 1st August.
Joanna and I got ourselves around the 30 miles of the Patterdale Parish boundary in a very respectable 12 hours and 45 minutes. We had a grand day out and raised money for the local Lakeland community at the same time. Thanks to everyone who supported us, and there’s still time to donate for those that want to at our Justgiving page.
I’m slowly getting through my backlog of photographs that need either scanning (for those I shot on 35mm transparency film) or RAW-conversion (for those I shot using a digital camera), then post-processing (colour balance, contrast and the odd bit of dust-removal) and keywording (for picture sales via Alamy) before making them available online. The latest images to get finished are a set I took in Turkey in April 2007. This was Joanna and my first trip to Turkey, ostensibly so I could attend the European Academy of Design conference in Izmir, but we also travelled a few days ahead so that we could explore Istanbul. We weren’t sure what to expect but Turkey was a revelation: a beautiful, vibrant country steeped in history with some stunning architecture, the friendliest of people and lip-smackingly fresh and fabulous food. Click on the image to browse the full set on Flickr.
One of my favourite ways to unwind is walking, particularly if it involves climbing up big hills. I’m fortunate that my wife Joanna shares my love of all things outdoors and we generally spend goodly amounts of time trudging up hills and mountains at home in the British Isles (and further afield when we can). We usually do this for fun, but for a change we’re about to do a big walk for charity. The Patterdale Parish Boundary walk has been running since the early 1990s in the north east corner of the Lake District in the UK, as an event to raise funds for the local school and church. As the name suggests, people walk or run the boundary parish which, being as the Lake District is the highest group of mountains in England, tends to be both rather long (30 miles) and involve a lot of uphill (10,000 feet – that’s a third of an Everest -ish). Walking the boundary takes between 12 and 17 hours, and not everyone makes the full distance. But we’re going to try (we have been training).
Joanna met one of the founders and organisers of the walk, Stephen, whilst travelling in New Zealand several years ago. He’s been asking her (and, latterly, us) to do the walk ever since. So, it’s about time we did our bit for an area we both love – we frequently enjoy its wild landscape, now we’ll try and give something back to its community. This year, the event is running on 4th July and we’ve set up a webpage for sponsorship here. We’re grateful for any support.
Following my viva in March, I have now completed my examiners’ requested amendments to my PhD thesis, which is now in its final form. An abstract and downloadable electronic copy is available on my PhD page.
I now feel that I can legitimately call myself Doctor Bowen – although only in professional circles rather than down at the pub.
Moving to a completely WordPress-driven site has many benefits but a minor downside is that the WordPress pages that replace my previous static pages now have different URLs. For example the “About me” page used to have the URL www.simon-bowen.com/aboutme.php but now has the URL www.simon-bowen.com/?page_id=2. To prevent frustration for those literally tens of people who might’ve bookmarked or linked to my website, I needed to put redirects in place. The easiest way to do so would be to create short pages that immediately re-directed people’s web-browsers to a new address using a meta refresh tag (tutorial here). However, this isn’t an ideal solution as it creates an extra step that both slows things down and causes confusion when someone uses their browser’s back function. I.e. the process to get to the page is: click a link/bookmark > receive redirection page > go to new page, so one step back is always the redirection page that then moves you forward again to the new page (and so on ad infinitum).