White, H, Hodge, J, Mackinnon, P, Nevay, S, Press, M, Zhou, Y (2013) Fabric Fobs and Family Ties, short paper and curated exhibition of design research at the Baltic, Gateshead
White, H, Hodge, J, Mackinnon, P Nevay, S, Press, M (2013) Crafting Caring Communication: A case study on the value of collaborative making in a care context
Paper presented at the 10th European Academy of Design, Gothenburg.
What are the implications and benefits of collaborative making for design? This paper reports on the initial stages of research to develop a communication system with staff, parents and children from the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) and a design team from the University of Dundee. The system is intended to enable CHAS staff, parents and relatives of children with complex communication needs to share the likes and dislikes of the child through a combination of workshops, handcrafted objects and an online interface.
In a series of workshops CHAS activities staff and carers, children and their parents and siblings came together with designers and programmers to focus on the act of making as a platform for communication. The aim was to develop innovative methods for children with reduced motor movement to access online content. However, the collaborative making workshops uncovered a different latent need: for products and services to help the parents and carers of children with complex communication needs to share information about their child’s personality, likes and environmental needs.
The research builds on two previous projects by members of the research team exploring the value of communication systems integrating bespoke handcrafted components: Pigeon Post – research conducted by PhD student, Jo Hodge into communication between parents and children who are separated through illness or family breakdown and Hamefarers’ Kist, a system to connect older people in the remote Shetland islands with their far-flung relatives, using networked knitted objects.
The paper discusses this initial study with the Children’s Hospice into using making as a collaborative co-design method, drawing out conclusions and implications for design practice in a care context. It argues that making is a fundamental part of eliciting understanding, trust, needs and mutual respect between diverse stakeholders, and demonstrates the value of craft knowledge and practice in such demanding contexts. This initial research was funded by the Scottish Funding Council through its Spirit Innovation Voucher Scheme.
keywords: design, collaboration, craft, co-design, healthcare, public services, service design