Project 2: Design laboratories and the rehearsal of new practices

Temporary spaces can be self-organized and take various forms, but when used as a deliberate device to create intermediary spaces we call these design laboratories. Within this project the unfolding of temporary spaces and particularly design laboratories are the objects of research. The project will pursue the hypothesis that this unfolding of temporary spaces can be productively conceptualized as rehearsals of new (innovative) practices. Contradicting the mundane assumption that use and users are either trivially present or cannot be conceived at all as long as new products are not available, we will furthermore assume, supported by the wide spread use of new forms of scenic representations (such as personas, scenarios, design mock ups, design games, and prototyping) that it is precisely use and users that are most preeminently configured and performed in these rehearsals.

Design laboratories have proven to be useful as a prescriptive methodological tool particularly to inform the brokering competency of consultancies and design bureaus. In the project we will work closely with brokering organizations that have adopted the idea of design laboratories. With a mixed sample of collaborators including design bureaus (1508, 3PART, Workz, Designit) and in-house consultants (Mindlab) we will conduct 6-8 ethnographic and reflective case studies of unfolding design laboratories through participant observation. The case studies will reveal how design laboratories can be conceived as a rehearsing of innovative practices involving stakeholders and the socio-material context in which they are situated. Based on these case studies we will explore and expand specific performance formats of collaboration such as design games, scenarios, and the enactment of critical design interventions. Experiences from design experiments engaging such formats and conducted in collaboration with consultancies will feed into a repertoire of approaches and the other research projects. The main faculty responsible for project 2 will be T Binder (DKDS).