Characters, Fun and Games: Creating Common Ground between Students and Children as Co-Design Partners.

DS 74: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education (E&PDE12) Design Education for Future Wellbeing, Antwerp, Belguim, 06-07.9.2012

Year: 2012
Editor: Lyndon Buck, Geert Frateur, William Ion, Chris McMahon, Chris Baelus, Guido De Grande, Stijn Verwulgen
Author: Grundy, Catherine Anne; Morris, Richard; Pemberton, Lyn
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: University of Sussex 2:University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Section: Creativity in Design Education
Page(s): 505-510
ISBN: 978-1-904670-36-0


Design methods that include the end user of a product in the design process can be useful for undergraduate Product Design projects. These approaches allow a novice designer to gain the perspective of others and to work with them first hand on a problem. When designing for children, this can add valuable insight for design decisions and also provide inspiration around the young person’s world. However there can be difficulties with time constraints and also the ethics of including children in projects that may be stressful. Here we explore a particular approach to Co-design, with students working alongside children to understand more about their emotional needs and aspirations during the creation of character designs for product design applications. The children were asked to create fictitious cartoon characters that have desired attributes, personal qualities and behaviours that relate to a given scenario. Subsequently this influenced the conceptualization of a product under development for the scenario. The devices being conceptualized were for final major projects and included: a) a blood glucose monitor for young diabetics b) a product to encourage children to eat healthily and grow their own c) a toy to encourage outdoor play. Character design was found to be an enjoyable activity for all, with a tangible outcome that facilitated communication between the student and pupil. It also provides a relatively sensitive method for getting information about the youngster’s feelings and aspirations within the context defined.

Keywords: Co-design, design for children, character design, empathic design


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