Book Reviews (german)*: mashup cultures, design act und was der Mensch wirklich braucht

mashup cultures edited by Stefan Sonvilla-Weiss

Wien [Springer] April 2010, 156 Seiten, circa 32 EUR. ISBN 978-3709100950

Eine ebenso erhellende wie unterhaltsame Kompilation über Techniken und Praktiken der MashUp-, Remix- und Sampling Kultur. Mal meta-analytisch, medientheoretisch, mal anwendungs-orientiert und mit Beispielen aus der Praxis gespickt, nähern sich 14 Autoren artverwandten Themenfeldern wie Open Participation, Unifinished Artifacts oder Common Property.  


Design act – Socially and politically engaged design today – critical  roles and emerging tactics edited by Magnus Ericson and Ramia Mazé

Berlin/New York [Sternberg Press/laspis] 2011, 304 Seiten. ISBN 978-1934105610

Zugegeben, der rote Faden verblasst bisweilen in dieser ansonsten plausibel argumentierten Betrachtung von Design als kritischer Praxis im Kontext von sozialen und politischen Angelegenheiten. Doch angereichert durch Experteninterviews mit Vertretern der akademischen und nicht-akademischen Welt, wird das Ganze dann doch wieder greifbar. Insbesondere dann, wenn die Protagonisten nicht nur ihren Idealismus protegieren, sondern auch über die Schwierigkeiten und Taktiken in ihren mitunter provokativen Projekten sprechen.

Was der Mensch wirklich braucht Martin Gessmann

München [Fink] 2010, 163 Seiten, 19,90 EUR. ISBN 978-3770547906 

Was im Titel zunächst nach Lebensratgeber klingt, kommt in Wirklichkeit gleichermaßen klug und kurzweilig als technikphilosophische Auseinandersetzung mit der Frage daher welche Rolle Technik und der Umgang mit Apparaten in unserem Leben spielen.

* Alle drei Buchtipps von Tom Bieling, veröffentlicht im WEAVE magazin, Ausgabe weave 03.13

Posted in Literature, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Guerrilla Art Project gives Birth To NYC’s New Wheelchair Symbol


A while ago, we reported from Sara Hendren‘s and Brian Glenney’s great accesible icon project. Now, we are even happier, to see that her project caught its deserved attention by NYC authorities. Congrats, Sara!

On fastcodesign you can reade the full article about “How A Guerrilla Art Project Gave Birth To NYC’s New Wheelchair Symbol”.

[The new Icon]



Posted in graphic | Leave a comment

«Get closer», … «because who is perfect?»

The latest campaign by Pro Infirmis:

Two years ago, they already caught attention by their “get closer” campaign:

Posted in disability aesthetics, movie | Leave a comment

“Flugmusik” – Jazz Institute Berlin meets Design Research Lab

[Dehnhard & Bieling: F L U G M U S I K]

The Jazz Institute Berlin and the Design Research Lab are going to collaborate for early 2014. In the project Tilmann Dehnhard and Tom Bieling are going to work on flying objects that sound and sound objects that fly. It’s gonna be cool and we will keep you posted about the process of the project…



Posted in design project, design research, music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Job Opportunity: Student Worker (f/m) in alternative Interaction.

Job Opportunity: Student Worker (f/m) in „alternative Interaction“.

The Design Research Lab at Berlin University of the Arts is looking for two student workers (f/m) to support us in the project “SPEECHLESS” from now to June 2014 (4 – 6 months).

Start date: January 1st or 15th of January 2014

Description The interdisciplinary research project “SPEECHLESS” aims at analysing and developing novel interactive interfaces. The work will mainly revolve around an (interaction) design research project project investigating the impact of interaction design in the context of Deafness and Blindness. Aside from that, the student assistant will partly support other projects and will develop an overview of the Lab‘s ongoings.

Main field of practice for the student assistant will be on exploring and designing novel design interactions, corresponding interfaces and their social context while crossing the boundaries of design and science.

Project tasks (depending on the focus of the two student assistant positions)

▪    Conceptual design and development of interfaces

▪    Prototyping Interactions

▪    Development and construction of experimental interface elements

▪    Preparation and assistance in user-workshops

▪    Electronic prototyping, basic software development, construction of textile circuits

▪    Project documentation (print and online)

You should be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student of interaction design, communication design, fashion or textile design, computer science or related fields. Following skills are important to us:

▪                Experience in Interaction Design

▪                Interest in experimental interfaces

▪                Interest in Design Research

▪                Experience with Adobe Creative Suite

▪                Experience in Prototyping

▪                Interest in physical Computing

▪                Layout, documentation and visualization

▪                Strong visual language

▪                Fluent in English (spoken and written)

▪                Ability and wish to work in dynamic teams

Programming knowledge (Java, Android, iOS), basic skills in dealing with electronic component, experience with textile production techniques are a plus.

Application process Please send an e-mail including your CV and short portfolio or link to your online portfolio to Tom Bieling ( a.s.a.p. We will close applications on december 15, 2013.
The position is paid according to ”Tarifvertrag für studentische Hilfskräfte II” (TV Stud II). Duration is 6 months (optional: 4 months), 20 hours/week.

We are looking forward to your application.

Posted in design research, interaction, jobs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


[Theometrica (by Oscar Palaou and Alexander Müller-Rakow); Foto: T. Bieling]

A couple of days ago, we mentioned the Theometrica Installation, which will be exhibited until december 13. For those, who won’t be able to see it…here is a little video!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Community Infrastructuring


Communities can be understood as forms of active engagement, collaboration and knowledge sharing which create new social bonds and be regarded as catalysts for social innovation and participation.

The community infrastructuring research group (Florian Sametinger, Jennifer Schubert, Andreas Unteidig, Malte Bergmann and Bianca Herlo at Design Research Lab Berlin), combines different scholarly perspectives, i.e. urban studies, cultural studies, interaction design and design research, in order to create synergies and new points-of-view on possible futures in the development of urban communities.

Community infrastructing investigates social, material and technological means which enable citizens to address relevant issues. The transdisciplinary research approach is grounded on a meaningful understanding of social contexts, designed artifacts and a research-through-design approach.

This is very much connected to an investigation and pragmatization of the different perspectives of sustainability, of the possibilities of empowerment and of fostering infrastructures for participation.

The overarching goal of the research group is to investigate the role of design in fostering social communities in an urban context.



Posted in design research, sustainability and social innovation | Leave a comment

Interaction and Interface Design for and with People with Dementia

This Berlin-based project has been running since 2012 and already lead to promising results:


Dementia is a syndrome that mainly affects people over the age of 65 and the probability is increasing with age. Current literature and statistics show that the number of people with dementia will double by 2050 in Germany, as about 200,000 new cases are annually expected. Furthermore there are approximately 10 million sufferers in Europe and nearly 18 million cases of dementia worldwide.

People with the most forms of dementia face the progressive and nowadays still incurable degeneration of their cognitive powers and commonly one particularly devastating effect – loss of memory. This affects their ability to carry out previously familiar tasks, like getting dressed or making a cup of tea, and to recognize places, individuals and objects. Those with dementia often feel lost in terms of time and place. As symptoms progress people with dementia increasingly become dependent on others to help them cope with the challenges of daily life.

This research concentrates on interaction and interface design, investigating how contemporary technology could support people with dementia to handle their daily tasks and activities, such as remembering appointments, maintaining social contacts, performing activities of daily life and organizing their day.

The aim of the Interaction and Interface Design for and with People with Dementia project is literally to help people with dementia navigate through their day and to explore how interaction and interface design can be as simple and understandable so people with progressive cognitive impairment can independently use it.

In the project, people with mild dementia are the primary target group and they and their informal and professional carers are included in the development process of an application that aims to support them. User-centered and co-design methods are being used to involve stakeholders of dementia in this process, create new ideas and make decisions based on their experiences, rather than focusing on technology only.

We’ll keep you posted about further results and impressions…


via DRLab 

Posted in demenz, design project, design research | Leave a comment

Design with the blind in mind

How should a city for the blind be designed? No,…how should a city in general be designed? Architect Chris Downey takes us on a trip from the perspective of a man who recently lost his sight and relates his non-visual senses to the world of architecture. And he tells about those two types of people: “Those with disabilities, and those who haven’t quite found theirs yet”.

Posted in architecture, blind | Leave a comment

German TV report about some of our work…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lorm Hand connects deaf-blind people with twitter

On the 4th October an impressive protest march of the deaf-blind took place in Berlin. Many of the participants took the opportunity to express and tweet their thoughts, demands, needs, wishes and requests with the @LormHand.

The Lorm Hand is an installation, which connects deaf-blind people with twitter or other social networks. Using touch sensory technology, the Lorm Hand enables deaf-blind people to compose text messages by applying the tactile hand-touch alphabet LORM, a common way of communication used by the deaf-blind. After typing a message on the Lorm Hand, it can immediately be tweeted or shared with social networks.

The Lorm Hand was created by the Design Research Lab initially for this event, so that the protest would go online and could be shared with a broader community. Furthermore the Lorm Hand has been used as a tool of communication for other non deaf-blind people, who are generally interested in the topic “deaf-blindness” and who can use it as a learning tool, to literally get in touch with the idea of LORM or deaf-blind culture in general.

Posted in accessible, deaf-blind, design research, interaction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making a website tangible


After a conversation with (Animation & Illustration) Design Student Ellie Pritchard from Kingston University London about here projects in the context of sensory technology research today, we do not want to miss to share her and her colleagues’  student project video, documenting their attempt to make the website of blind comedian Liam O’Carroll tangible and accessible to him.

Check out the fixperts video here!


Posted in accessible, tactile communication, tangible interaction | Leave a comment

“Die Politik der Maker” DGTF Jahrestagung 2013


Die gesellschaftliche Bedeutung neuer Möglichkeiten des Produzierens von Design

Jahrestagung der DGTF 2013
Fr. 22. – Sa. 23. November 2013
an der Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (HFBK)


Die Tagung „Die Politik der Maker“ möchte die Hintergründe der „Maker Culture“ in Vorträgen, moderierten Panels und Workshops ergründen. Es geht darum die neuen Möglichkeiten des Produzierens von Design vorzustellen, theoretisch zu beschreiben und kritisch zu reflektieren.

Wohin zielen die Ansätze? Sind die Diskussionen darüber Schattengefechte einer Totalisierung des Marktes? Ist D.I.Y. emanzipativ? Und überhaupt: Kann man die bessere Welt 3D drucken?

Das Ausfürliche Programm mit allen Vorträgen und Workshops finden sich hier:


Im Anschluss an die Tagung findet am 24. November das 10. Kolloquium Design Promoviert in Zusammenarbeit mit der HFBK Hamburg statt. ( )

Posted in design research | Leave a comment

Vortrag Elke Bippus (18.11.2013): Epistemologien des Ästhetischen: Mikropraktiken eine (andere) Wissensform?


Die Berliner RingvorlesungAnderesWissen-WS13-14 fragt nach der Alterität künstlerischen Wissens. In der Spannung oder auch Balance zwischen einem konsistenten Wissensbegriff und dem Besonderen, gar Anderen eines künstlerischen Wissens, liegen Reiz und Herausforderung der Fragestellung.

Warum werden die Künste überhaupt unter der Kategorie Wissen erfasst? Welche Legitimationsstrukturen verbergen sich dahinter? Wie verhält sich das Verschwenderische, Widerständige der Künste zu Erkenntnis und Innovation? Inwiefern wären Wissensformen in ihrer gesellschaftlichen Relevanz grundsätzlich zu überprüfen?

Die Ringvorlesung findet an sieben Terminen montags um 18 Uhr im Raum 110 in der Hardenbergstrasse 33 statt.

Am 18. November 2013 spricht Elke Bippus (Zürcher Hochschule der Künste) über
“Epistemologien des Ästhetischen: Mikropraktiken eine (andere) Wissensform?”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Book Review (german): Cairo – Images of Transition. Perspectives on Visuality in Egypt 2011-2013 // Mikala Hyldig Dal (Ed.)

[Transcript, September 2013, 186 S., kart., 34,90 €; ISBN 978-8376-2615-5]

Wie dokumentiert man Geschichte, die gerade selbst im Begriff ist geschrieben zu werden? Wie lässt sich demokratisches Verständnis visualisieren? Und wer sind die Akteure wenn sich Geschichte als Bild manifestiert? Mit „Cairo: Images of Transition“ kompiliert Mikala Hyldig Dal anhand zahlreicher Gastbeiträge eine Fülle an Positionen und Blickwinkeln auf die Wechselbeziehung von Politik und Ästhetik seit dem Beginn der ägyptischen Revolution. Und schafft damit einen bereichernden Blick auf die Ikonografie des Umbruchs.

[Gleichzeitigkeit von medialer Inszenierung und ikonischem Entstehen: Junger Mann, der auf einer Demo vor der israelischen Botschaft sein Laptop in die Luft hält, auf dem ein Livestream genau jener Versammlung zu sehen ist, deren Teil er in genau diesem Moment ist]

Diese umfasst selbst Alltagsgegenstände, die in Zeiten des Umbruchs mitunter erstaunliche Prozesse der De- und Re-kontextualisierung durchlaufen, in dem sie dabei zu visuellen Zeichen, zu Metaphern, zum politischen Statement werden. Der blaue BH ist ein solches Symbol: Nachdem Sicherheitskräfte im Dezember 2011 eine Protestteilnehmerin brutal zusammenschlagen und halb ausziehen, wobei ihr blauer BH sichtbar wird, verbreitet sich eine Videoaufnahme der Tat viral millionenfach. Demonstranten tragen in den darauffolgenden Tagen Papptafeln mit Ausdrucken der Video-Szene durch Kairos Straßen. Bald schon finden sich Graffiti Stencils in Form von stilisierten BHs in Kairos Straßenbild. Innerhalb kurzer Zeit wandert eine Begebenheit von der Straße ins Netz und von dort wieder zurück auf die Straße und durchschreitet dabei unterschiedliche Abstraktions- und (Be-)Deutungsebenen. Die betroffene Frau selbst, ihr geschundener Körper, und dann das blaue Kleidungsstück werden zu Symbolen für staatliche Unterdrückung, Polizeigewalt und (insbesondere weiblichen) Widerstand.

[Icons in Flux 1: Der blaue BH. Oben: Teilnehmerinnen eines Frauen-Protest-Marsches halten ein Video-Still des Vorfalls in die Höhe. Unten: In einer Street Art Interpretation des Vorfalls werden die Polizeikräfte als teuflische, behörnte Wesen dargestellt. Anstelle des blauen BHs trägt die Frau ein Oberteil in den ägyptischen Landesfarben] 

[Icons in Flux 2: Der blaue BH. Oben: Leinwandbild – Die Polizeikräfte als animalische Wesen]

[Icons in Flux 3: Der blaue BH. Reduziert auf ein Maximum an Aussagekraft – der blaue BH als Stencil]

Die im Buch thematisierte Ikonografie des Umbruchs unterstreicht den veränderlichen Status des Bildes als Kommunikationsmittel und dessen Potenzial als ausdrucksstarker Akteur im Wandel. Dies nicht zuletzt auch vor dem Hintergrund des technischen Fortschritts, dem im Zuge des Arabischen Frühlings eine nicht unbedeutende Rolle zu Teil wird. Allen voran die Ausstattung breiter Bevölkerungsschichten mit Mobiltechnologie und deren Zugriff auf soziale Netzwerke haben dazu geführt, dass jeder Moment ein potenzielles Bild, jedes Bild die Möglichkeit beinhaltet, soziale Identitäten, kulturelle Befindlichkeiten und politische Standpunkte zu konstruieren, kommunizieren und manifestieren.

„The Egyptian revolution has been called ‚the most televised revolution ever’“ (Annelle Sheline)

Dies gilt zumal vor dem Hintergrund gewalttätiger Machtausübung. Jedes Handy, jede Kamera ist auch potenzieller Zeuge und augenblicklicher Multiplikator. Daraus ergeben sich wechselseitige Konstellationen: Personen, Handlungen und Orte finden nicht mehr nur allein durch ihre physische Präsenz statt, sondern auch als abstrakt-virtuelle, imaginäre Sinnbilder. Im Gegenzug manifestieren sich medial transportierte Symbole in den Handlungen der Akteure und werden somit wieder greif-, spür- und sichtbar. Das wohl bekannteste Beispiel: Der von Menschenmassen bevölkerte Tahrir Platz, dessen Ansicht aus der Vogelperspektive nachhaltig in das kollektive Gedächtnis globaler Revolutions-Ikonografie eingeschrieben ist.

Kein Zweifel, der Umbruch seit der ägyptischen Revolution ist nicht nur Spiegelbild eines  gesellschaftlichen Wandlungsprozesses – auch visuelle Codes, Ausdrucksformen und kommunikationsbezogene Vertriebswege (zumal im öffentlichen Raum) stehen im Zeichen der Veränderung. Beides hängt unweigerlich miteinander zusammen. Das Buch durchleuchtet dieses Wechselspiel. Auf erhellende Weise.

[Tom Bieling]

Related Topics:

Posted in graphic, Literature, photography, pop culture, visual communication | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RHEINBERGER + MAKINO (Lecture + Performance); Berlin 13. November


Lecture, Performance

WED 13.11.2013 | 19:00 h | Free admission
What do art and science have in common and what distinguishes them from one another? Over the course of three evenings, stipendiaries of the UdK Berlin (University of Art) discuss this question with their guests.

An evening dedicated to the experimental systems in art and science.

“It (experimental system) is a device that not only generates answers; at the same time, and as a prerequisite, it shapes the questions to be answered. An experimental system is a device to materialize questions. It cogenerates, so to speak, the phenomena or material entities and the concepts they come to embody.” – Hans-Jörg Rheinberger

A lecture by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, will be followed by a performance by Yutaka Makino. Moderation: Alberto De Campo, University of the Arts.

[HKW – Haus der Kulturen der Welt; Berlin]

Posted in event, performance | Leave a comment



Skintimacy is an interface that allows for the manipulation of electronic-based processes through touch. Depending on whom you touch, the way your bodies make contact influences the control of both analog instruments and digital setups. Alexander Müller-Rakow and his team developed Skintimacy by implementing an Arduino microcontroller to transfer data to software platforms in order to provide diverse opportunities for a playful control of audio and video. This kit, devoloped at Design Research Lab is intended to facilitate the symbiotic relationship between physical computing and the sense of touch.

Posted in body, interaction | Leave a comment

Design Research Lab in Berlin NeuKölln

[Nacht und Nebel Installation: “Liebe Sonnenallee, “]

As part of the Nacht und Nebel festival in Neukölln, the Community Infrastructuring Team of the Design Research Lab will present the next level of their hybrid letter box. Opinions will be collected and combined with a projection as well as a discussion feature via text message.

See you at Café Schaumschläger or outside at the corner of Sonnenallee/Hobrechstraße. On Saturday, November 2 from 6 to at least 10.30 pm

Posted in exhibition, interaction | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Experimenting with Biochip Implants

Posted in bioethic, body modification, cyborg | Leave a comment



Our dear friends and colleagues Oscar Palou and Alexander Müller-Rakow – both experts in the field of generative sound synthesis – came up with this adorable sound interface. By fixing specific pins into a spinning disk, “Theometrica” can control sound elements in real time.

Brought to the public at Einsteinufer 43, 13353 Berlin. Until december 13.

Posted in art, exhibition, interaction, sound | Leave a comment

Book Review: Mobile Food and Foodhunting by Joseph Carlson

Mobile Food and Foodhunting by Joseph Carlson

[Winwood48 Edition]

Jedermanns Sache wird die eigenwillige Buchgestaltung vermutlich nicht sein. Und auch  die einzelne Textzeile, die sich mittig über die komplette Buchlänge erstreckt, und dabei Assoziationen zu einem Straßen markierenden Mittelstreifen weckt, mutet zwar originell an, steht dem Lesefluss dann jedoch leider allzu sehr im Wege.

Nun ist es mit Büchern aber ja oft so wie mit exotischem Essen: Wer bereit ist, gewohntes Terrain zu überschreiten und sich auf Neues einlässt, der wird bald mit einer Fülle an inspirierenden Eindrücken belohnt. So dass auch vorrübergehendes Magengrummeln schnell in Vergessenheit gerät.

Joseph Carlsons und Mark Brownsteins Einblick in die balinesische Kochkultur schafft dies auf farbenfrohe Weise. So farbenfroh wie asiatische Straßenstände, so bunt wie die indonesische Küche, so schillernd wie Bali selbst. Das macht Freude und auch: hungrig.

So ähnlich muss auch die «red dot» Jury gedacht haben, die den Bildband kürzlich mit einem ihrer Design Awards auszeichnete.

[Tom Bieling]

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Exhibition in Berlin

We are part of this one…

E-Einladung (2)

Posted in exhibition | Leave a comment

Exhibition in Edinburgh/UK

On friday, 21st of June, an interesting exhibition starts in Edinburgh/UK.

It also includes 3 works, developed in the DESIGN IN(G) SOCIETY Project,that was supervised by Tom Bieling in Cairo and Berlin last semester.

21.06.2013 | Opening 6.30 pm | Short Art Movies Screening

Arab Revolution Exhibition Art as Resistance.

Since 2011, the Arab Revolutions come with an effervescence of artists that resist, reveal, witness, motivate and demand, using their streets, blogs and other social media.

They explore a creative explosion of different visual styles to condemn the violence of the police and the corrupt regimes, but also to pay tribute to Martyrs and address discussions on culture, religion and society.



[Exhibition Poster. Click to enlarge!]

Interestingly all three of the chosen projects share the overall topic of gender inequality in egypt:

Project: Don’t judge me! Aynour Tanataki, Farah Galal, Salma El Far, Samar Khazbak, Shaymaa Ezzo

Project: Female Smoking (Gender Inequality) Doha Salah, Farida Hamid, Olfat Helmy, Perihane Mohamedein, Yara Labib

Project: Sexual Harassment Aya Elsify, Esraa Thabet, Hend Awad, Mennat-Allah Kheireldin, Norhan Abdelmohsen, Noura Hussein

In december 2012, a group of 120 graphic-, media- and product-design students at GUC (German University in Cairo) participated in the project “DESIGN IN(G) SOCIETY”, lead by Tom Bieling (Design Research Lab, Berlin Uni­versity of the Arts), which focuses on the designer’s role in terms of understanding, influencing and creating social sustain­able processes in urban context.

The guiding question were: What role does the design of urban environment and public spaces play in terms of enabling or hindering social interaction? What role do “objects” play in this context? In this, a special fo­cus was laid out on social Interaction between people with “conflict potential” (e.g. old-young, man-woman, rich-poor, different cultural or religious backgrounds, state – people, etc….). Final goal of the course was, to find (designerley) ways of solving the social Problems, the participants discovered, using the broad range of de­sign-relevant issues and skillz (e.g. Product-, Service-, Information-, Interaction-, Event-, …Design).

The course was related to its partner project at GUC Berlin Campus (2012/2013), also conducted by Tom Bieling, and has been accompo­nied by a blog, meant to document the process and the outcomes of this project.

Posted in art, design project, exhibition, gender | Leave a comment

Berlin Summer University of the Arts – Aging in Place: Exploring Concepts / Assembling Strategies

Our Design Research Lab will be running a five day workshop at the Berlin Summer University of the Arts. The Workshop is lead by Stefan Göllner (DRL) & Jan Lindenberg (IIDj).

Design Research Lab, July 29th – August 2nd 2013.


Cities and regions are expected to change radically when a massive generation of old people will dominate society in the near future. »Aging in place« is a popular concept in the field of design and technology development targeting this expectation: aiming for interventions to improve the conditions for staying in a living environment for a long as possible.

How can we design for mobility, health care and community life to enable aging in context following an augmented understanding of place?

To tackle this question we want to go beyond negative prophecies of »alarmist demography« and positivist technology inspired concepts by exploring theoretical and practical knowledge related with the needs and constraints of aging.

Our research will be inspired by health care & gerontology, ICT Research and social sciences, anthropology and transhumanism, cultural traditions, fiction and science fiction – and everything the participants contribute to enrich an augmented scope on the concept of »Aging In Place«.

Students, researchers and professionals from different fields are invited to join this process, aiming for a multi perspectival view on the topic. We will therefore follow a mixed method approach to design research by assembling insights from textual sources, field excursions, scenario development and on-site interventions.

Results and findings will be collected systematically in an Index / Sampler / Cross-Media Glossary which will be the core result of the workshop. Registered participants will be invited to join a preliminary process of material collection in preparation of the workshop.

Workshop lead Stefan Göllner ( and Jan Lindenberg ( at Design Research Lab of Universität der Künste Berlin, lead by Prof Dr Gesche Joost.

For further information please visit:

Posted in age | Leave a comment


“Medien schaffen Wirklichkeit – Journalistinnen und Journalisten wissen das und bedienen sich leider dennoch häufig einseitiger Sprachbilder, Floskeln und Klischees. Formulierungen wie „an den Rollstuhl gefesselt“ oder „leidet an“ lassen negative Bilder im Kopf entstehen, die das öffentliche Bild behinderter Menschen prägen. Für sie heißt das, dass sie oft nur als Leidende, Opfer oder Helden wahrgenommen werden. Andere Lebensbereiche rücken in den Hintergrund, zugunsten von “Schubladen”, in die das Leben vieler behinderter Menschen nicht hinein passt. Statt ausgewogen zu informieren,  festigen die „Leidmedien“, wie wir sie nennen, das verbreitete Bild von Behinderung: Das schwere Schicksal, das überwunden werden muss – obwohl viele Menschen gerne leben, gerade auch mit ihrer Behinderung.”

Wie über Menschen mit Behinderung häufig berichtet wird –  und wie man stattdessen aber auch anders über Menschen mit Behinderung berichten kann: Wird dokumentiert auf

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DFG Roundtable Design Research


The Design Research Lab at Berlin University of the Arts is looking forward to an intense two-days workshop next week: the DFG Roundtable Design Research.

Even more, we are excited to meet our ca. 40 participants.
The list of participants really reads like a who-is-who in design research, since it contains names like

Klaus Krippendorff, Pelle Ehn, Bill Gaver, Chris Rust, Ranulph Glanville, Susan Vihma, Wolfgang Jonas, Rachel Cooper, Uta Brandes, Clive Dilnot, Gesche Joost, Mike Press, Cameron Tonkinwise, Ruedi Baur, Brigitte Wolf, … …. …

We will keep you up-to-date about the process and outcomes of this roundtable.
Everybody who is going to be in town, is more than invited to join the closing event on frideay the 22nd of march, 17-19h at

designtransfer, Einsteinufer 43-53, 10587 Berlin

Posted in Conference | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Current DESIGN RESEARCH LAB projects by our colleagues Katharina Bredies, Tom Bieling and Alexander Müller-Rakow will be shown in Munich from 21. – 24.2.2013.

Click fyers to enlarge!

[Look Twice | Exhibition & Symposium, Munich February 2013]


Posted in exhibition, team | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Radio Interview (Tom Bieling, Multicult FM, 24 October 2012)

Tom Bieling talks about the Project DESIGN IN(G) SOCIETY in this Radio Interview (Language: German).

To listen or download the Interview click here!

Or “watch” it on Youtube:

For further Infos on the project click here!

In the winter semester 2012/13, a group of 9th semester product design students from German University in Cairo (GUC – Campus Berlin) have been participating in the Berlin based Project “DESIGN IN(G) SOCIETY”, lead by Tom Bieling (Design Research Lab, Berlin University of the Arts).

The intercultural project, related to the course “Advanced Research Methods”, focuses on the designer’s role in terms of understanding, influencing and creating social sustainable processes in urban context.

If you want to learn more about the project and DESIGN IN(G) SOCIETY,

check out:

Posted in design research, interview, sustainability and social innovation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Symposium: Design as Cure


People in Berlin, tonight we recommend an look forward to meeting you at a very promising event: DESIGN AS CURE, organized by our friend and colleague Lisa Weiss.


Description (german):
Der weiße Arztkittel, die Therapie mit Placebopillen oder das Abhorchen des Herzens – Inszenierung, gestaltete Praktiken und Interaktionsrituale sind bereits Teil der Medizin und ihres Behandlungserfolgs. Insbesondere in der Organspende zeigen sich die Grenzen konventioneller Vermittlung. Viel zu sehr verhindern Ängste und Tabus eine Annäherung an dieses sich zwischen Medizin und Mythos befindenden Thema. Welche Aufgaben kann das Design als Vermittler in diesen medizinischen Prozessen übernehmen? Wie lassen sich mit Design die weichen Faktoren in der medizinischen Behandlung gestalten? Welche Praktiken und Artefakte sind vorstellbar, die einen gesellschaftlichen Umgang mit dem Thema Organspende ermöglichen? Im Rahmen des Symposiums ‘Design as Cure’ sollen Potenziale einer erweiterten Zusammenarbeit zwischen Medizin und Design diskutiert werden.

Prof. Dr. Roland Hetzer
Ärztlicher Direktor, Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin

Prof. Egon Chemaitis
Gestalter, UdK Berlin

PD Dr. Olaf Guckelberger
Transplantationschirurg, Charité Berlin

Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels
Ritualwissenschaftler, Universität Heidelberg

Prof. Dr. Ernst Pöppel
Medizinpsychologe, LMU München

Ein  Designprojekt von Lisa Weiss am
Institut für Produkt- und Prozessgestaltung Prof. Axel Kufus, UdK Berlin

Mit einer Ausstellung zur Bedeutung des Rituals in der Organspende.

Dienstag, 25. September 2012 18:30 Uhr
Galerie im Einstein · Unter den Linden 42

Posted in event | Leave a comment

Biohackers: A Journey into Cyborg America

The Verge’s Ben Popper explores the world of biohacking, where DIY cyborgs are pushing the bleeding edge of human enhancement. From basement labs to piercing shops. A documentary about the “grinder” culture that hopes to merge man and machine.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cybernetics for the Masses

Lepht Anonym on biohacking, implants, sensory extension, silicon and on how to hack your own perception of electromagnetic radiation for approximately thirty Euros.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Teaching through Touch

A Project at Vanderbilt University on how technology can be used to teach math skills to the visually impaired…

Posted in accessible, blind, tactile communication | Leave a comment

Design science – and what makes it tick! (Panel Discussion)

As a young discipline, design studies/science is currently establishing itself within the worldwide community of academia. A couple of months ago, the Institute of Design Research Vienna conducted a panel discussion at Designforum Vienna (MQ/Museumsquartier). The participants various positions from the fields of design research, design theory as well as from the funding institutions’ perspective. They also asked for the relevance of academic research practices for everyday creative processes and the understanding of today’s product and consumer culture.

We would have shared this video with you anyway, but we enjoy sharing even more, since Tom Bieling’s Research projects were also described in this discussion!

Language in the discussion/video: German.

Panel members:

Gesche Joost
Alexander Damianisch
Thomas Geisler
Harald Gründl

Posted in design research, designwissenschaft | Leave a comment

Prosthetics and Cybernetics

“Prosthetic arms and legs are beginning to approximate the functionality of our natural limbs”.

Rob Spence aka the “Eyeborg” (a self proclaimed cyborg who lost an eye replaced it with a wireless video camera) investigates prosthetics, cybernetics and human augmentation.


Posted in prosthetics | Leave a comment

DesignInquiry | Design City Berlin | Call for Participation

Design Research Lab Berlin is collaborating with DesignInquiry on another experimental workshop-format that will take place in 2012. Our friends and colleagues Alexander Müller-Rakow and Florian Sametinger have been organizing this promising Berlin event, and DESIGNABILITIES is pretty much looking forward to it!

The Call for Participation is still open…

Design City: Berlin
In 2006, Berlin, Germany was designated by UNESCO as the first European City Of Design. From a damaged city, Berlin has evolved into a multi-faceted melting-pot, with all its clashes and conflicts, new beginnings and fresh perspectives. It is unique in its ability to adapt to difficulties and experiment with the given. The radical changes within the city are visible everywhere you go and its constant flux draws artists and designers from all over the world, inviting them to experiment with it and create something new, fill the empty spaces. Berlin is becoming more and more a city of design participation, grassroots activism and DIY-initiatives. Berlin design seldom fits a fixed category of design but rather defines itself in-between disciplines drawing from the international influence and diverse backgrounds of its protagonists. It is a place where new tendencies in design are taken up very quickly, although they might not have been initiated here. Seemingly disparate ideas and approaches get entangled and (re-)mixed into something new.

In this spirit we invite you to participate in an experimental week to investigate and explore the design city, collaborate with its designers and develop and exchange ideas with international colleagues and friends. 

You can participate in two ways:
– attend a gathering in person to share your ideas on the topic, as a talk or discussion, a workshop, an exhibition, a field trip, etc;

– contribute to our WORK by submitting an online essay, photograph, video, sound project, digital art, typography, etc. 

More info: DesignCities BERLIN

DesignCity: BERLIN is a collaboration between DesignInquiry and Design Research Lab. We welcome further conspirators, cohorts, contributors and sponsors as we continue to challenge and explore the notion of the design city.

For more information, visit / Youtube / Lulu / Twitter / FB

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Manzini on Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability

We already mentioned Ezio Manzini quite a lot.
Here is another one of his talks (from 2010):


Ezio Manzini-Keynote: Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability from Interaction Design Association on Vimeo.

Posted in sustainability and social innovation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Job Opportunity: Internship at Design Research Lab Berlin

Das Design Research Lab der Universität der Künste Berlin sucht ab März/ April 2012 in Berlin eine/n Praktikant/in für 3 – 6 Monate im Projekt „Services für Demenz-Patienten“.

Das übergreifende Ziel des Design Research Lab ( besteht darin, durch praktische und theoretische Beiträge im Bereich benutzerzentrierter Gestaltung das Feld der Design‐Forschung weiterzuentwickeln und so einen Beitrag zur theoretischen und praktischem Wissensschöpfung im internationalen Designforschungsdiskurs zu leisten.

Tätigkeit: Die Tätigkeit umfasst User‐Research mit Demenz‐Patienten und deren Angehörigen sowie dem Pflegepersonal; Konzeption von Services für eine Tablet PC Anwendung; Interface und Interaction‐Design; Prototypenentwicklung (Papierprototypen, Flash‐Dummies etc.); Durchführung von Benutzerstudien / User‐Centered Design Methoden, Interface Evaluation sowie organisatorischen Aufgaben im Projektzusammenhang.
Das Praktikum wird vergütet.

Voraussetzung: Ideale Bewerber sollen Studierende im Bereich Design sein (Produkt‐, Grafik oder Interaktions‐Design). Erwartet werden Kenntnisse in der Durchführung qualitativer Untersuchungsmethoden sowie Organisations‐ und Teamfähigkeit.

Praktische Erfahrung im Bereich Interfacedesign
Gute Kenntnisse mit gängiger Design‐Software (Adobe‐CS)
Erfahrung in der praktischen Umsetzung von Design Prototypen
Gute Englischkenntnisse

Bitte richten Sie Ihre Bewerbung mit Anschreiben, kurzer Begründung des Interesses am Projekt und Lebenslauf bitte an Gesche Joost ( Der Starttermin ist für April 2012 geplant, kann aber noch individuell verhandelt werden.

Wir freuen uns auf Ihre Bewerbung!

Universität der Künste Berlin – Fakultät Gestaltung / IPP
Einsteinufer 43
10587 Berlin‐research‐


Download Link zur Praktikums Ausschreibung: DRLab_praktikum_ausschreibung_demenz.pdf

Posted in care, demenz, design research, jobs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Awareness album goes viral

With their little photo album posted on facebook, Grace Curley and here Brother Josh help to raise awareness of Down Syndrome, as well as Disability-Topics in general.

The album consisted of 18 photographs featuring the 20-year-old Paris resident and her 18-year-old brother Josh posing with a series of cue cards that held an inspirational message about Down syndrome.

The photo album was obviously intended just for Curley’s Facebook friends, but quickly made its way across the internet with thousands of shares…

View the album on Grace’s FB site or at youtube.



Posted in awareness | Leave a comment

Mobile Lorm Glove – A Communication device for deaf-blind people.

The Mobile Lorm Glove is a communication and translation device for the deaf- blind. It translates the hand-touch alphabet Lorm, a common form of communication used by people with both hearing and vision impairment, into digital text and vice-versa. The prototype enables the deaf-blind user to compose messages via the pressure sensitive palm of the glove that are transmitted as a text message to the receiver’s handheld device. Vibrotactile feedback patterns allow the wearer to perceive incoming messages. It supports communication over distance, provides access to autonomous information and serves as an interpreter for people not familiar with Lorm.

Further info:

Posted in accessible, deaf-blind | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Touching new ways of commincation for 2012 and beyond….

Dear friends
Liebe Freunde
Caras amigos

A healthy, successful and happy 2012 to all of you (especially those we haven’t met this year)!
Euch allen (insbesondere denen, die wir in diesem Jahr leider nicht treffen konnten) sowie einen sicheren Rutsch in ein gesundes, erfolgreiches und von Humor geprägtes 2012!
Um próspero ano novo!

Some exciting projects have been going on. Feel free to check out one of them:
Spannende Projekte gab’s und wird’s auch weiterhin geben. Dies hier ist eines davon:
Vamos continuar a trabalhar de grandes projeitos. Por exemplo, este:

Take care!
Passt auf Euch auf!
Se cuiden!

Tom |

Posted in accessible, blind, body, care, deaf, design project, design research, design study, embodiment, Experience Disability, prototyping, research, social design, sustainability and social innovation, tactile communication, team | Leave a comment

Künstlerisch/Wissenschaftliche(r) Mitarbeiter/in gesucht…

Das Design Research Lab der Universität der Künste Berlin sucht ab Februar 2012 in Berlin eine/n

Künstlerisch/wissenschaftliche(n) Mitarbeiter/in im Projekt „Services für Demenz-Patienten“

Das übergreifende Ziel des Design Research Lab besteht darin, durch praktische und theoretische Beiträge im Bereich benutzerzentrierter Gestaltung das Feld der Design-Forschung weiterzuentwickeln und so einen Beitrag zur theoretischen und praktischem Wissensschöpfung im internationalen Designforschungsdiskurs zu leisten.

Tätigkeit: Die Tätigkeit umfasst User-Research mit Demenz-Patienten und deren Angehörigen sowie dem Pflegepersonal; Konzeption von Services für eine Tablet PC Anwendung; Interface- und Interaction-Design; Prototypenentwicklung (Papierprototypen, Flash-Dummies etc.); Durchführung von Benutzerstudien / User-Centered Design Methoden, Interface Evaluation; Abstimmung mit der technischen Implementierung sowie organisatorischen Aufgaben im Projektzusammenhang.

Voraussetzung: abgeschlossenes Designstudium (Produkt-, Grafik oder Interaktions-Design) Weiterhin:

 Praktische Erfahrung im Bereich Interfacedesign
 Gute Kenntnisse mit gängiger Design-Software (Adobe-CS)
 Erfahrung in der praktischen Umsetzung von Design Prototypen
 Grundlegende Programmierkenntnisse
 Gute Englischkenntnisse

Bitte richten Sie Ihre Bewerbung mit Anschreiben, kurzer Begründung des Interesses am Projekt und Lebenslauf bitte an Gesche Joost ( Die Vergütung erfolgt nach TVL als künstlerisch-wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter und ist zunächst auf ein Jahr begrenzt. Der Starttermin ist für Februar 2012 geplant, kann aber noch individuell verhandelt werden.

Wir freuen uns auf Ihre Bewerbung!


Universität der Künste Berlin – Fakultät Gestaltung / IPP
Einsteinufer 43
10587 Berlin

Posted in design research, jobs | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Attitude Syndrome

Thanks to GUC Student* Caroline for sharing this campaign clip with us, which she and her group found yesterday!

* During his visiting professorship at the German University in Cairo, Tom Bieling has been conducting an intensive and productive workshop week (“Workshop against Normality”) with the 9th semester product design students. Some of the results will be also documented soon on

Posted in advertisement | Leave a comment

Sonic Experiments by Christine Sun Kim

Filmmaker and photographer Todd Selby profiles Christine Sun Kim‘s performance work. On Nowness we find the following description:

“Deaf from birth, Kim turned to using sound as a medium during an artist residency in Berlin in 2008, and has since developed a practice of lo-fi experimentation that aims to re-appropriate sound by translating it into movement and vision. “It’s a lot more interesting to explore a medium that I don’t have direct access to and yet has the most direct connection to society at large,” says the artist. “Social norms surrounding sound are so deeply ingrained that, in a sense, our identities cannot be complete without it.”

Christine Sun Kim, A Selby Film from the selby on Vimeo.

Posted in deaf, sound | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Impressions from “Falling Walls Lab”…

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tom Bieling wins 2nd Place at Falling Walls Lab 2011

100 ideas, 3 minutes, 1 day. At the Falling Walls Lab in Berlin, 100 inspiring people presented their breakthroughs. DESIGNABILITIES Initiator Tom Bieling was one them….and won the second place. Congrats!

[Chairmen of the falling walls lab jury, Ernst Th. Rietschel and Martin Sonnenschein together with the awardees: Tom Bieling, Jennifer Jordan, Shuo Zhang and Eileen Diskin (v.l.t.r.)]

The Falling Walls Lab took place on 8 November 2011, the day before the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin, and was organised by the Falling Walls Foundation with the support of AT Kearney.

Further info…


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Feature Discussion ‘Before and After Critical Design’

After our last lively feature discussion in april there will be another interesting one this friday. This time it will be in English again. The discussion is open for everyone to join. Looking forward to your contributions!

Feature Discussion ‘Before and After Critical Design’
Friday, September 2nd

10.00-18.00h (GMT +1)

The term ‘Critical Design’ appeared some twenty years ago in the design research community as a particular approach to human-machine interaction. Referring to a longer tradition of critical approaches in design and architecture, it was meant to re-establish alternative views on product and interface design, telling stories about human values and behaviour that were thought to be neglected in commercial product development.

Since then, as a method, strategy, or theoretical perspective, it has been widely interpreted, appropriated, adopted, enchanted and criticized by design researchers. In this feature discussion, the participants will debate the role of Critical Design for design and research practice.

The discussion is open to everyone. Please join!

Invited Discussants:

Simon Bowen, User Centred Healthcare Design, National Institute f. Health Research, UK

Carl DiSalvo, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Li Jönsson, Interactive Institute, Sweden

Tobie Kerridge, Goldsmith College, UK

Tau Ulv Lenskjold, The Danish Design School, Denmark

Ramia Mazé, Interactive Institute, Sweden

Regina Peldzus, Kingston University, UK

Alex Wilkie, Goldsmith College, UK

10.00-11.30 Critical of What? (Moderation: Ramia Mazé)
11.30-13.00 Critical Design outside the Gallery? (Moderation: Simon Bowen)
13.00-14.00 Break
14.00-15.30 Critical and Speculative Design as Scenario Building Approach in Science and Technology Contexts (Moderation: Regina Peldzus)
15.30-17.00 Is there a Post-Critical Design? (Moderation: Carl DiSalvo)
17.00-18.00 Conclusion and Open Questions

Organized by Katharina Bredies, Manager, DesignResearchNetwork

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Piercing a Tongue, in the Name of Mobility”

This project just caught our attention: A system, where the user wears a headset with sensors that pick up magnetic signals from a tongue ring. Moving the tongue to the mouth’s corners, moves the wheelchair forward or backward etc…

The full article in the New York Times you find here!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HangUp (Deafness-inspired Interaction at Design Research Lab Berlin)

“HangUp” is a tool that accounts certain human conditions or situations, where people can not use their hands while being on the phone. For example deaf people need both hands for sign language. But also non-deaf people are often confronted with comparable situations. For both there is a solution:

Hang up your phone to keep up your conversation!


The concept results from the Project “DESIGNABILITES” at the DESIGN RESERACH LAB of the University of the Arts in collaboration with T-Labs Berlin.

The project explores challenges and possibilites for disability-inspired interaction.

Main goals are to find ways for enhancing Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) and Information-Communication-Technology (ICT) by transferring properties and principles from ‘disability’ context into general contexts of communication.

Therefore we investigate on alternative interaction techniques inspired e.g. by deaf communication or blind navigation.

project: Tom Bieling
direction & camera: Kai Hattermann

more info:

Posted in accessible, co-design, deaf, design project, design research, Film, prototyping | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blind Loves / Slepe Lasky (Trailer)

Documentary filmmaker Juraj Lehotsky upends many people’s assumptions and expectations of the handicapped in the film Slepe Lasky (aka Blind Loves), which introduces viewers to four very different people with one thing in common — they all lack the ability to see. Markjo is of Romany heritage and has to deal with ethnic stereotypes as well as the challenges of being blind; he is also struggling with an often rocky relationship with his girlfriend Monika, who is partially sightless. Peter makes his living teaching music, and enjoys a placid home life with his wife, who devotes most of her spare time to knitting. Zuzana is a teenager who keeps in touch with her friends through constant text messaging and is trying to catch the attention of a certain boy she knows. And Elena is expecting her first child and has been teaching herself to care for the baby while facing anxieties about the challenges of parenthood. Blind Loves was screened as part of the Directors’ Fortnight series at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

Director: Juraj Lehotsky (2009 UK)
Runtime: 77 min

Posted in blind, movie | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mobile Alert Recognition (Deafness-inspired Interaction at Design Research Lab Berlin)

“Mobile Alert Recognition” is an application that identifies auditory alerts through signal recognition and informs the user about important events.
It results from the Project “Speechless” at the DESIGN RESERACH LAB of the University of the Arts in collaboration with T-Labs Berlin.


The project explores challenges and possibilites for disability-inspired interaction. Main goals are to find ways for enhancing Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) and Information-Communication-Technology (ICT) by transferring properties and principles from ‘disability’ context into general contexts of communication. Therefore we investigate on alternative interaction techniques inspired e.g. by deaf communication or blind navigation.

project: Tom Bieling
direction & camera: Kai Hattermann

more info:

Posted in accessible, alternative communication, care, co-design, deaf, design project, design research, Film, movie, universal design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Thanks to Tangible Sound Lab for exploring interpersonal boundaries through musical interactions in their recent project ‘Skintimacy’, in which Alexander Müller, Jochen Fuchs and Konrad Röpke use skin-based interfaces for collaborative musical performances.

‘Skintimacy’ is intended to be both an evocative tool for interpersonal interaction and touch, as well as an alternative digital musical instrument. By integrating the human skin and touch into the musician-computer interface, a bodily-close haptic and emotional experience is proposed.

Skintimacy: Exploring Interpersonal Boundaries through Musical Interactions from Jochen Fuchs on Vimeo.

Alex on “Experiencing Intimacy”:

“The question of intimacy is brought to the foreground with the upcoming trend in HCI to use skin (and the precision of the sense of touch) as an interface. The collaborative setup is designed to give an auditively perceivable answer to the question: How can intimacy be experienced through sound when humans interact through mutual touch and perform with each other? Furthermore, since the instrument evokes interpersonal interaction, we want to employ Skintimacy as a playful tool that allows for the observation of intimate behaviour. We have discovered that personal and intimate borders are shifting significantly in a performative context where a computational (musical) process is linked to interpersonal touch.”

Posted in interaction, sound | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Conference Review: INCLUDE 2011

Last week (18-20 April) the Helen Hamlyn Centre at the London Royal College of Art conducted the sixth edition of INCLUDE, the biannual conference on Inclusive Design. This year’s theme: The Role of Inclusive Design in Making Social Innovation Happen.

The idea to complement the four conference strands (‘Public Life’, ‘Home & Health’, ‘Design Theory’, ‘Design Practice’) by a couple of hands-on workshops was a good one. Eventually one of the central conference topics was concerning the question of how Inclusive Design methods and tools could be a motor for social innovation. Unfortunately the workshops seemed to be too short after all, but for future conferences this could be nice format to dive deeper into a topic (maybe by half- or full-day workshops?).

Out of the three key note speakers, Stefan and I only saw Bill Morgridge, who first introduced his new place of work: the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (NYC), then basically talked about the recent shifts in design practice: From personal, to social, to environmental perspectives. Ezio Manzini had to cancel his talk on short notice. Gerontologist Sarah Harper (Oxford University) gave her keynote at the Gala Dinner, which was already sold-out by the time we wanted to order tickets.

Some highlights: Alistair Macdonald’s big picture thinking; Stephen Wilcox’ as humorous as bright moderations; the 24h design challenge (five student groups had to solve a design task within 24 hours and did all well); and not least the very well organized event, plus the comfortable prevailing mood amongst the staff and participants.

Congratulations to Lieven De Couvreur and Jan Detand (University of West Flanders, Belgium) and to Richard Goossens (TU Delft), who won the best paper award for “The Role of Flow Experience in Co-Designing Open-Design Assistive Devices”. Also congrats to Miguel Neiva (Philosophy Institute University of Porto), who won the best poster award for his Colour Identification System for Colour-blind People. The award for the Best Inclusive Design Innovation went to Wendy Key-Bright and Joel Gethin Lewis, for their Co-creating tools for touch: “applying an inspire-create-play-appropriate methodology for the ideation of therapeutic technologies”.

Overall impression: Even though the focus of the conference is quite clear, we still found a broad range of topics, which is good. However sometimes the definitions and interpretations of certain topics seemed a little fuzzy (In one session we found ourselves confronted with the bizarre formula of “Social Innovation = (Social Needs / Resources) x Creativity”). At least one fundamental consensus seems to evolve (not only) amongst the design community, which is the notion that design maybe can not solve all the problems, but it definitely can moderate, steer and enrich the discourse.

The conference proceedings can be found here!

We look forward to INCLUDE 2013, while thinking about Alistair Macdonald’s suggestion to live and design life more like a good dinner, when in his closing remarks he quoted Robert L. Stevenson (1850-1894): “There is only one difference between a long life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last”.

Tom Bieling

Posted in Conference, universal design | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What distinguishes “Research through Design” from “Design”? (german text)

In one of our last feature discussions on, Prof. Wolfgang Jonas gave a plausible answer:

—please excuse: the text is in german —

Wie unterscheiden sich Design und RTD hinsichtlich ihrer Ergebnisse?
Wann ist es Design, wann ist es Forschung?

Eine schwierige Frage, auf die ich auch keine hundertprozentige Antwort habe. Ich rekapituliere noch einmal die Kategorien der Designforschung:

research ABOUT design (Beobachter aussen, blickt nach innen): Hier werden disziplinäre wissenschaftliche Theorien benutzt, um den Gegenstand (Design) zu verstehen. Es gelten wissenschaftliche Standards, uneingeschränkt.

Research FOR design (Beobachter aussen, blickt nach aussen): Hier werden wissenschaftliche Theorien verwendet, um den Designprozess mit Wissen anzureichern. Ziel ist die Verbesserung des Prozesses im Hinblick auf Effizienz und Effektivität. Angewandte Forschung. Wissenschaftliche Standards fungieren als Garanten.

Research THROUGH design (Beobachter innen, blickt nach aussen): Es geht um externe Ziele, d.h. die Verbesserung lebensweltlicher Situationen. Ergebnisse sind praktische Problemlösungen und / oder neues Wissen über die Verbesserung der Situationen. Dies kann auch Wissen über Phänomene sein, die von anderen Wissenschaften bereits mit ihren Mitteln behandelt wurden (als Beispiel aus Q&H fällt mir etwa ein: Der Begriff des Vertrauens im partizipatorischen Planungsprozess).

Research AS design (Beobachter innen, blickt nach innen): Der abduktive Prozess… hier kommt Wissenschaft vielleicht implizit / tacit vor, als kreativer Erfahrungsschatz…

Wir sprechen hier über Research THROUGH design als eine besondere Form der Designforschung. Unterschiede zwischen Design und RTD sind fliessend, unscharf, auch stark sozial bestimmt: – Bedeutung des Forschungsanteils: geht es um eine praktische Problemlösung oder um die Beantwortung einer Frage? – Methodik: Explizit, anerkannt und nachvollziehbar? – Zeitaspekt: unmittelbarer Problemdruck – Innovation – Exploration? – Implementierungsdruck: Je geringer desto mehr Forschungschance? – Forschungsintensität: wieviel neues Wissen ist erforderlich? – Systemcharakter: Je komplexer das Setting, desto mehr Forschungsanteil? – Transferierbarkeit: Je höher, desto eher Forschung? – …

Ich glaube, dass ich hier mit Bruce Archer übereinstimme, der das sehr viel rigoroser formuliert hat. Oder es klingt jedenfalls rigoroser.

Bruce Archer, The Nature of Research, Co-design, interdisciplinary journal of design, January 1995 pp 6-13

“To return to our intermediate question, it becomes clear that for academic recognition purposes a practitioner activity can rarely be recognised as in itself a research activity. One has to ask: Was the activity directed towards the acquisition of knowledge? Was it systematically conducted? Were the findings explicit? Was the record of the activity ‘transparent’, in the sense that a later investigator could uncover the same information, replicate the procedures adopted, rehearse the argument conducted, and come to the same (or sufficiently similar) conclusions? Were the data employed, and the outcome arrived at, validated in appropriate ways? Were the findings knowledge rather than information? Was the knowledge transmissible to others? Oniy when the answers to all these questions are in the affirmative can a practitioner activity be classed as research.” .

Posted in Definitions, design research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sign-to-Text (Deafness-inspired Interaction at Design Research Lab Berlin)

“Sign-to-Text” is an application for tracking fingeralphabet for SMS-use on Mobile Phones. It results from the Project “Speechless” at the DESIGN RESERACH LAB of the University of the Arts in collaboration with T-Labs Berlin.


The project explores challenges and possibilites for disability-inspired interaction. Main goals are to find ways for enhancing Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) and Information-Communication-Technology (ICT) by transferring properties and principles from ‘disability’ context into general contexts of communication. Therefore we investigate on alternative interaction techniques inspired e.g. by deaf communication or blind navigation.

project: Tom Bieling
direction & camera: Kai Hattermann

Posted in accessible, alternative communication, care, deaf, design research, disability studies, Film, interaction, movie, research, universal design, visual communication | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Im Werden begriffen – Designperspektiven für Berlin (ARCH+ 201/202)

[ARCH+ issue 201/202 on Berlin; Cover by Meiré und Meiré]

The german magazine for archicture “ARCH+” recently published this one:

“Im Werden begriffen – Designperspektiven für Berlin
Von Bieling, Tom

Berlin, Stadt der Kreativen. 2006 zur „UNESCO City of Design“ ernannt, ist die Designszene der Stadt Anziehungspunkt für Praktizierende und Interessierte – national wie international. Was aber ist das eigentlich, eine kreative Stadt? Welches Potenzial, welche Verpflichtungen lassen sich, nicht zuletzt auf politischer Ebene, für die Stadt ableiten? Welche Entwicklungschancen bieten sich Berlin im Design-Sektor? Und was ist, jenseits der rhetorischen Floskel, das Spezifische an Berlin als Design-Standort? […]

Read the whole article here!,3633,1,0.html

It also contains three interwies with Prof. Reto Wettach, Cornelia Horsch and Torsten Posselt!

[Wichtige Faktoren für Innovationen; Grafik aus DGTF-Studie]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feature Discussion: “Wie schaffen wir Designwissenschaft” (DRNetwork, 12.04.2011)

The official announcement will be posted here, as well as via DRNetwork and dgtf, soon! 
So, this one’s only an advance notice:

Feature Discussion auf DRNetwork – ‚Wie schaffen wir Designwissenschaft?’ 12.04.2011

‚Wie schaffen wir Designwissenschaft?’ knüpft an die letzte feature discussion ‚Vier Positionen zur Designwissenschaft’ an, die am 27.01.2011 stattfand.  

‚Vier Positionen zur Designwissenschaft’ kreiste um Definition und Bedeutungen sowohl von Designwissenschaft (DW), als auch von Design selbst. Diskutiert wurden Beiträge, Absichten, Ausprägungen, Inhalte und Aufgaben von DW. All dies stand in unmittelbarem Zusammenhang mit der Frage nach möglichen Formen und Formaten von DW. Eine Reihe von Analogien wurden dabei verwendet: DW in Anlehnung an Medizinwissenschaft (Wolfgang Jonas, June Park), Theater-, Literatur- oder Kunstwissenschaft (Rainer Funke), Biologie (Stephen Rust). Letztlich führte die Diskussion weder zu einer Synthese der unterschiedlichen Positionen, noch schien diese explizit erwünscht zu sein. Verständlich, angesichts der frühen Phase in der sich Designwissenschaft und die Debatte darum befinden! Vielmehr verstand man sich darauf, den Diskurs vorerst weiter vertiefen zu müssen, was nun in der kommenden feature discussion geschen soll. Bauen wir also auf den bisherigen Diskurs auf und fragen ‚Wie schaffen wir Designwissenschaft?’! In dieser feature discussion konzentrieren wir uns zu diesem Zwecke auf eine Reihe von spezifischen Fragen, die sich aus der letzten Diskussionsrunde ergeben haben.

Ziel ist es, einen leichten Zugang zum Diskurs über die Grundlagen und die Natur von Designwissenschaft im deutschsprachigen Raum zu geben. Die Online-Diskussion baut auf der Publikation auf und beabsichtigt, diese Debatte fortzusetzen. Drei Autoren werden zusammen mit einem geladenen Gast dazu beitragen. Die Diskussion ist außerdem offen für alle interessierten Teilnehmer.”

Dipl.-Des. Tom Bieling, UdK Berlin
Dipl.-Des. Katharina Bredies, UdK Berlin
Dipl.-Psych. Stephen Rust
Prof. Dr. Sabine Foraita, HAWK Hildesheim
Dr. Gavin Melles, Swinburne University of Technology
Prof. Dr. Susann Vihma, Aalto University

Dr. Rosan Chow, UdK Berlin
Prof. Dr. Leif Ostman, Novia University of Applied Sciences
Prof. Dr. June H. Park, Kiel

Program 12.04.2011

10:00 Begin

10:00-11:30 Teil 1: Wie ließe sich DW etablieren, trotz oder gerade wegen ihrer unterschiedlichen Positionen in Bezug auf Ziel, Form(at) und Gegenstand?

11:30-13:00 Teil 2: Was sind die notwendigen Schritte, damit Designwissenschaft eine Zukunft hat?

13:00-14:00 Mittagspause

14:00-15:30 Teil 3: Wie müsste DW organisiert und wer muss hierzu mit einbezogen werden?

15:30-16:30 Kaffee Pause

16:30-17:00 Nachbereitung

Organisatoren: Dr. Rosan Chow, DGTF Themengruppe ‚Grundlagen der Designwissenschaft’ und Dipl.-Des. Tom Bieling, DRNetwork.

Grundlagen der Designwissenschaft ist eine Themengruppe innerhalb der DGTF mit dem Ziel, zur Etablierung der Designwissenschaft im deutschsprachigen Raum beizutragen (

DRNetwork ist eine Online-Plattform für Designstudenten, die 2007 gegründet wurde. Ihr Ziel ist es, junge Designforschende dazu zu ermutigen, aktiv zur Entwicklung der Designforschung beizutragen.

Mach mit bei der Diskussion auf !

Online-Zugriff auf die Publikation‘Positionen der Designwissenschaft’ auf

Posted in design research, designwissenschaft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Open University: Mit den Händen sprechen

Die Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) führt das Projekt “Open University: Mit den Händen sprechen” durch. Gehörlose und hörende Referenten präsentieren von April bis Juni 2011 Vorträge/Filme/Performances/Diskussionen rund ums Thema Gebärdensprache und Gehörlosenkultur. Ein Projekt zum Abbau von Barrieren zwischen Hörenden und Gehörlosen und zur Förderung von Verständigung und gegenseitiger Akzeptanz. Hier das dazugehörige OpenUniversityProgramm als pdf.

Posted in deaf | Leave a comment

Teilnahmeaufruf: 5. Kolloquium ‘Design Promoviert’

Zum Jubiläum mal wieder in Berlin: Wie schon beim allerersten mal, so werden wir auch das 5. Kolloquium »Design promoviert« wieder in Berlin durchführen. Diesmal an der Universität der Künste, der neuen Heimat des Design Research Lab.

Am 4. Juni 2011 veranstaltet die Themengruppe »DESIGN promoviert« der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Designtheorie und -forschung (DGTF) in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Design Research Network und der UdK Berlin das fünfte Kolloquium »DESIGN promoviert«.

Das Kolloquium bietet Promovierenden im Design eine Gelegenheit, ihr Forschungsthema unter Gleichgesinnten zur Diskussion zu stellen. Erfahrene Designforscher werden eingeladen, uns mit hilfreichen Kommentaren zur Seite zu stehen. Vorträge zu erfolgreich abgeschlossenen Promotionen im Designbereich sollen die Veranstaltung abrunden.

15. April 2011 Einsendeschluss für alle Beiträge
28. April 2011 Benachrichtigung der Teilnehmer
27. Mai 2011 Anmeldeschluss
04. Juni 2011 5. Kolloquium Design Promoviert
(ca. 10:00 – 16:00 Uhr)

Design Research Lab, Universität der Künste
Fakultät Gestaltung / IPP
Einsteinufer 43, 10587 Berlin

Damit wir die Kosten für Essen und Getränke vor Ort decken können, erheben wir einen Unkostenbeitrag von 15€ pro Teilnehmer. Die Anmeldung ist erst mit Eingang des Unkostenbeitrags abgeschlossen.

Teilnahme und Anmeldung
Das Kolloquium richtet sich insbesondere an alle Designpromovierenden und solche, die es werden wollen. Interessierte, die gern vortragen möchten, können ihre Kurzdarstellung von 500 Wörtern (plus Literaturverweise) bis zum 15. April 2011 auf Dort ist auch die Teilnahmeanmeldung möglich. Auch internationale Designpromovierende sind herzlich eingeladen zu partizipieren.

In der Kurzdarstellung sollen die folgenden Fragen beantwortet werden:
• Was ist, ganz allgemein, der aktuelle Stand der Forschungsarbeit?
• Was ist das Feld, in dem geforscht wird oder werden soll?
• Was ist das Forschungsproblem (nicht nur das Designproblem), das Anlass zur Forschung gibt?
• Wie lautet die Forschungsfrage (nicht nur die Designfrage)?
• Welche Untersuchungsmethoden werden/wurden verwendet bzw. sollen benutzt werden, um diese Frage zu beantworten (in Form von Design- und Beobachtungspraktiken)?
• Wie sind die forscherische und gestalterische Praxis verbunden, welchen Einfluss haben sie aufeinander?
• Wo gibt’s noch Probleme/Unsicherheiten bzgl. derer man sich Feedback im Kolloquium erhofft?

Jeder Vortragende hat 15 Minuten zur Präsentation und 15 Minuten zur Diskussion des Beitrags. Die konstruktive Diskussion des Themas steht im Vordergrund. Wir planen außerdem eine freiwillige Veröffentlichung der überarbeiteten Beiträge in Form von Kurzpapieren (max. 1500 Wörter), in denen die Rückmeldungen und Kommentare aus dem Kolloquium integriert sind.

Übergeordnete Vorträge
Zusätzlich können Vorschläge für übergeordnete Vorträge über Designpromotion in Deutschland eingereicht werden. Diese könnten beispielsweise Methoden, Prozessen und Strategien zum erfolgreichen promovieren im Design beschreiben oder Erfahrungsberichte über gute bzw. schlechte Rahmenbedingungen an Hochschulen sowie institutionelle Voraussetzungen für eine Promotion vorstellen.
Beiträge dieser Kategorie sollten bis zu 2000 Worte umfassen, die vor der Veranstaltung eingereicht und nach dem Kolloquium auf und dauerhaft veröffentlicht werden.
Folgende Fragen können darin z.B. beantwortet werden:
Welche Probleme gibt es mit einer Promotion im Design, und welche konkreten Möglichkeiten und Ansätze, um sie zu lösen?
Wie sind die formellen Anforderungen, und wie kann man sie am besten erfüllen?
Welche Modelle und Verfahren haben sich bewährt? Welche sind eher hinderlich?

Peer Review
Wir wollen nicht nur die Diskussionskultur, sondern auch das kritische Lesen unter Designforschern üben. Deswegen werden alle Beiträge einem Review-Verfahren – ebenfalls unter Design-Doktoranden – unterzogen. Das Review-Ergebnis dient hier zu besserer Vorbereitung auf die Präsentation und nicht als Ausschlusskriterium.

Für den Review sind u. a. folgende inhaltliche Aspekte ausschlaggebend:
Das vorgestellte Projekt sollte den Anspruch und den Umfang eines Promotionsthemas haben. Das heißt, es sollte einerseits groß genug sein, um eine mehrjährige Forschungsarbeit zu rechtfertigen. Es sollte andererseits neues grundsätzliches Wissen auf seinem Gebiet erarbeiten. Kürzere Entwurfsprojekte sollten deswegen in den Kontext einer entsprechend größeren Forschungsfrage gestellt werden.
Das Thema sollte ein Designforschungsthema sein, das heißt, für das designerische Handeln relevant sein. Es sollte sich also nicht nur um eine rein praktische Designarbeit handeln, sondern deutlich eine Forschungsfrage behandeln.

Wir sind Freunde von Forschung-durch-Design; der Forschungsanteil im Design soll jedoch deutlich werden. Entsprechend sollte ein Beitrag Antworten und Hinweise auf die Problemstellung, die Forschungsfrage, die verwendeten Methoden und Schlussfolgerungen geben können.

Aktuelle Infos gibt es dann über design-promivert und übers Design Research Network!

Posted in Conference, design research | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Call My Attention (Deafness-inspired Interaction at Design Research Lab Berlin)

“Call My Attention” is an application for immediate Line-of-Sight Signaling on Mobile Phones. The application proposes a mobile device function to be used like a remote control, for achieving immediate attention. It results from the Project “Speechless” at the DESIGN RESERACH LAB of the University of the Arts in collaboration with T-Labs Berlin.


The project explores challenges and possibilites for disability-inspired interaction. Main goals are to find ways for enhancing Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) and Information-Communication-Technology (ICT) by transferring properties and principles from ‘disability’ context into general contexts of communication. Therefore we investigate on alternative interaction techniques inspired e.g. by deaf communication or blind navigation.

Posted in accessible, alternative communication, augmentative communication, care, co-design, deaf, design project, design research, disability studies, Film, interaction, movie, research, universal design, visual communication | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How A Blind Man Plays Video Games

Our fellow Matthias Loewe, just pointed our attention towards this mechanical engineering student and Gamer Terry Garret, who can play a perfect run in Abe’s Exoddus. Which is pretty awesome, considering Garrett is blind!
A report and interview can be read here:
There is also a video, demonstrating Terry’s skillz:


Posted in blind, game | Leave a comment

Geek love by Katherine Dunn

Susanna Hertrich recomended this one to us, since it seems to fit perfectly in our topic.
She says: “Slightely disturbing novel of a circus family of “freaks” that questions our understanding of normality. Expect weird sexual festishes, strange cults, crazy tyrants, limb amputations and murder. Very enteraining in one way and very sick in another. Good read”.

Thanks, Susann! It’s on our wish list now!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anthropomorphe – Different views on the human body

“Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not.” (Quote from the anthropomorphe blog) 

Anthropomorphe features an extensive collection of  stunning imagery that challenges our notions of the human body, its identities and surrounding, and thereby proposes a reflection on individual and collective human body identity.

Thanks  Susanna, for your designerly note!

Posted in blog, body | Leave a comment

TRANSNATURAL (Amsterdam, march/april 2011)

[transnatural; exhibition/symposium, amsterdam 2011; campaign: Lucy McRae]

Technology was the means by which mankind seperated itself from nature, and escaped its limitations. In the 21st century we move beyond the animosity between nature and technology. In a lot of areas we see new fruitful collaborations and new kinds of unity: in our dealings with the environment and with energy, but also in arts, architecture, fashion and games.

At the transnatural Festival, Media-artists, speculative designers, avant-garde businesses and bleeding edge researchers working between life and technology will feed and contextualize each other. Together they develop images, experiences and intuitions for the TransNatural culture and present attempts from art, design and science to fuse technology with nature. 

via multiplexart

Posted in Conference, design project, design research, design study, event, exhibition, fashion, interaction, performance, playful interaction | Leave a comment

Body Architecture by Lucy & Bart

Another perspective can of course be found in the “absurd” human enhancement works of LucyandBart (Lucy McRae and Bart Hess) that is often described as an instinctual stalking of fashion, architecture, performance and the body.

Both share a fascination with genetic manipulation and beauty expression, creating future human shapes, blindly discovering low – tech prosthetic ways for human enhancement.

As a body Architects they invent and build structures on the skin that re-shape the human silhouette. Their provocative, often grotesquely beautiful imagery suggest a new breed; a future human archetype existing in an alternate world. Visualized in scenarios which let the human body perform as an intimate interface with the material world.

Check out Lucy’s and Bart’s Websites:

Posted in art, body modification, posthumanism | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Human Enhancement – The Role of Art and Design

Already mentioned before, but in context of certain art and design positions in terms of human enhancement technologies we would like to draw attention again to some of the RCA (Royal College of Art, London) projects in this field:

The Methods Network was an AHRC-funded, multi-disciplinary partnership which ran from 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2008 providing a national forum for the exchange and dissemination of expertise in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for arts and humanities research.

The aims of the Methods Network were to promote, support and develop the use of advanced ICT methods in arts and humanities research and to support the cross-disciplinary network of practitioners from institutions around the UK; to develop a programme of activities and publications on advanced ICT tools and methods and to ensure the broadest participation of the community by means of an open call for proposals for Methods Network activities.

In collaboration with King’s College London, Sheffield Humanities Research Institute, Lancaster and Royal Holloway University, Professor Sandra Kemp was awarded funding to support a new initiative to promote and disseminate the use of ICT in UK Arts and Humanities research.

As part of the RCA’s involvement in the AHRC ICT Methods Network, Professor Sandra Kemp, Director of Research at the Royal College of Art co-hosted, with Professor Anthony Dunne from the Department of Design Interactions, a workshop entitled Human Enhancement Technologies: The Role of Art and Design (new tools and methods) at the Goethe-Institut in 2008.

Posted in art, bioethic, body modification, design project, design research, design study, Enhancement, philosophie, posthumanism, Transhumanity | Leave a comment

German Books on enhancement, bioethics, body aesthetics and transhumanity.

In context of our latest book recommendation we would also like to mention a couple of german publications around the enhancement debate.

First of all the nicely compiled “No body is perfect” (Editors: Johann S. Ach, Arnd Pollmann), which compiles 17 positions on bodytuning from various disciplines (authors e.g.: Bettina Schöne-Seifert, Kurt Bayertz, Matthias Kettner, Kurt W. Schmidt, Julia Schoch or Ludwig Siep). From philosophical, cultural-scientific, medical-ethic and pschological perspectives, this book discusses the borders of transhuman expansions.

[no body is perfect: Baumaßnahmen am menschlichen Körper – Bioethische und ästhetische Aufrisse, Transcript 2006]

Bettina Schöne-Seifert and Davinia Talbot edited the following two books for the Mentis Verlag:

“Enhancement: Die ethische Debatte” (including articles by Jürgen Habermas, Peter Kramer, Eric T. Juengst, Dan W. Brock, Carl Elliott, David DeGrazia, Arthur Caplan, Francis Fukuyama). And “Neuro-Enhancement: Ethik vor neuen Herausforderungen”, which was co-edited by Johann S. Ach and Uwe Opolka and opens up a transdisciplinary discourse on ethical and social aspects of neuro-enhancement from various disciplines, such as philosophy, neuro-, medical-, law- and policital sciences.

From a life-science perspective, Eve-Marie Engels and Elisabeth Hildt enrich the discourse with their edited book “Der implantierte Mensch: Therapie und Enhancement im Gehirn (Lebenswissenschaften im Dialog)”, published by Verlag Karl Alber.

The book’s positions reach from anthroplogical to ethical and metatheoretical considerations amongst the fields of neurology, cognitive neuro-sciences, biophysics as well as philoshophical anthropology, philosophy of science or bioehtics. Altogether it includes questions concerning the relevance of categories like nature, technology or artificiality for the judgement of therapeutical approaches.


This recommendation list for german books shall be completed by two prior publications of philosopher Hans Jonas, both published by Suhrkamp: “Das Prinzip Verantwortung: Versuch einer Ethik für die technologische Zivilisation” (1979), and “Technik, Medizin und Ethik: Zur Praxis des Prinzips Verantwortung” (1985), in which Jonas tries to implement the “Prinzip Verantwortung” into paradigmatic cases in the fields of biological research and medical practice. 

[Hans Jonas….Suhrkamp 1979/1985]

Posted in bioethic, body modification, Enhancement, implants, Literature, posthumanism, Transhumanity | Leave a comment

Book: Human Enhancement

In a recent publication the editors Julian Savulescu and Nick Bostrom compile several positions in the enhancement debate, basically gathering around the question, to what extent we should use technology to try to make “better human beings”, which undoubtfuly guides towards profound ethical questions.

Excerpt of the publishers’s description:

“Because of the remarkable advances in biomedical science, we must now find an answer to this question. Human enhancement aims to increase human capacities above normal levels. Many forms of human enhancement are already in use. Many students and academics take cognition enhancing drugs to get a competitive edge. Some top athletes boost their performance with legal and illegal substances. Many an office worker begins each day with a dose of caffeine. This is only the beginning. As science and technology advance further, it will become increasingly possible to enhance basic human capacities to increase or modulate cognition, mood, personality, and physical performance, and to control the biological processes underlying normal aging. Some have suggested that such advances would take us beyond the bounds of human nature.”

[Julian Savulescu, Nick Bostrom: Human Enhancement; 432 pages; Oxford University Press; 2010; ISBN-13: 978-0199594962]

“[…] They have generated intense public debate and have become a central topic of discussion within practical ethics. Should we side with bioconservatives, and forgo the use of any biomedical interventions aimed at enhancing human capacities? Should we side with transhumanists and embrace the new opportunities? Or should we perhaps plot some middle course? Human Enhancement presents the latest moves in this crucial debate: original contributions from many of the world’s leading ethicists and moral thinkers, representing a wide range of perspectives, advocates and sceptics, enthusiasts and moderates. These are the arguments that will determine how humanity develops in the near future.”


Julian Savulescu is Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics, Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and Director of the Program on Ethics and the New Biosciences in the 21st Century School, University of Oxford

Nick Bostrom is Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford. He previously taught at Yale University in the Department of Philosophy and in the Yale Institute for Social and Policy Studies.

Posted in Enhancement, Literature, posthumanism, Transhumanity | Leave a comment

Mixed Feelings (Documentary)

Thanks to our new team member Ulli, for pointing our attention to this intersting Documentary on the evolving convergence of technology and the humany body, especialy in “health” context:

Posted in augmentative communication, blind, Film, implants, research, Transhumanity | Leave a comment

Design Research Lab – Alles NEU!

On the occasion of Gesche Joost‘s inaugural lecture, the Design Research Lab recently celebrated a “houswarming” of its new office at the University of the Arts.

In the course of the establishment of the endowed professorship, the research team transferred to the faculty of design at the University of the Arts Berlin. In cooperation with Deutsche Telekom Laboratories and TU Berlin, a new area of focus emerges for the University of the Arts Berlin, where the potential of research and development through and with design is explored.

The „Design Research Lab” group started in 2005 as a part of the Deutsche Telekom Laboratories and Technical University Berlin. Currently, a team of 9 scientific researchers is working on interdisciplinary design research projects. From the start, the main goal was to mediate the gap between technological innovations and real needs of people in their everyday living environment. Diverse human needs and requirements are addressed: of the elderly and teenagers, families and singles, people with different abilities and disabilities.

Main questions are:

How would we like to communicate and interact in the future?
What kind of design methods serve us in research and development?
How can people be integrated into research and development as experts of their everyday life?
Which forms of technological development and innovations can be utilized to improve social, environmental and economic sustainability?

The University of the Arts Berlin is becoming part of an international development, in which design is positioned as a major research field.
Within the framework of PhD-projects and interdisciplinary research approaches, several different contributions to the international scientific and design discourse are in development: New ways of tactile interaction with devices (“embodied interaction”), and textiles (“interwoven technology”), gender-specific requirements of communication technologies (“gender-inspired technologies”), concepts of sustainability in local neighborhoods (“networked neighbourhoods”) and alternative ways of communication inspired by (“sign language”) of deaf people.

Check out the new website:

Posted in design research | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Feature Discussion on ‘Designwissenschaft’ (DRNetwork, 12.april 2011)

After the last feature discussion in january, there is going to be a follow-up in april.
Under the working title ‘Wie schaffen wir Designwissenschaft?’, a group of invited participants will discuss with you several positions and challenges for designwissenschaft. Please mark the date on your calendar and feel free to join the discussion on Tuesday 12.04.2011. 

Further information will be posted soon via Design Research Network!
 Check out the documented feature discussion from january here:

part 1
part 2
part 3

Posted in design research | Leave a comment

5. Kolloquium ‘Design Promoviert’ in Berlin (Juni 2011)

Zum Jubiläum mal wieder in Berlin: Wie schon beim allerersten mal, so werden wir auch das 5. Kolloquium »Design promoviert« wieder in Berlin durchführen. Aller Voraussicht nach wird es am  4. Juni 2011 stattfinden. Dieses Mal an der Universität der Künste, der neuen Heimat des Design Research Lab. Aktuelle Infos gibt es dann über design-promivert und übers Design Research Network!

Posted in Conference, design research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Abilities speak louder…

[VSA Arts of Colorado : Andrew Zareck | Art Direction and Design]

The Access Gallery + Studio at VSA Arts of Colorado conducted the “Special Needs Poster Project” GIVING VOICE. In this collaborative project, young people with disabilities were paired with a professional graphic designer. The only parameters were the vision of the young people and the talents of the designers. The posters presented are the end result of a joint project of VSA arts Colorado, Colorado Cross Disability Coalition and AIGA Colorado.


Posted in design project, graphic, visual communication | Leave a comment

Book: Questions, Hypotheses & Conjectures (Book by Design Research Network)


[Rosan Chow, Wolfgang Jonas, Gesche Joost (Hg.):
Questions, Hypotheses & Conjectures; IUniverse; 360 pages; ISBN: 9781450259651]

In 2008, the Design Research Network (DRNetwork) conducted the Design Research Conference “Questions & Hypotheses” (Q&H) in Berlin. Since the goal of DRNetwork is to foster rigorous discourse among young design researchers, the aim of the conference was to to bring our young researchers together in a “real” event, to complement the virtual discussions taking place on the DRNetwork.  

Q&H had three distinct characteristics: The conference was characterized as a “learning conference” because the first priority of DRNetwork has been to benefit student researchers.
The format was discussion-oriented, focused on face-to-face interaction. Not least contentwise, a major aim was to promote rigor in conceptualizing. Design Research has been self-conscious about its lack of systematic methods and theories in comparison to other academic disciplines. This self-consciousness, on the one hand, has advanced the quality of design discourse to a certain degree; on the other hand, it has resulted in much research that is methodologically rigorous but conceptually weak. “Here is the solution and what was the problem?” seems to describe the unfavorable character of much design research. It is forgotten that it is questions and ideas that give meanings and values to meticulously executed research. Q&H aimed to promote rigor in formulating research questions and conceiving new ideas, thus the conference title.

However, still the conference was joined and highligthed by “senior” researchers, including the keynotes of Alain Findeli and Keith Russel, who gave important and helpfull input and comments to the “juniors”‘s works. These special guests were: Design-against-Crime activist Mike Press (Dundee/Scottland), Clive Dilnot (Parsons, NYC), Susan Vihma from Helsinki and the Editor of the “International Journal of Design Science and Technology” Khaldoun Zreik.

Now, two years later, this beatiful (Layout: Joshua Marr) and smartly conceptuzalized book has been published: Edited by Rosan Chow, Wolfgang Jonas and Gesche Joost, Questions, Hypotheses & Conjectures, originally created with research students in mind, collects issues and ideas that are relevant not only to students but to all members of the design community. Current design research projects are compiled here, which meet  debates, dialogical thinking, and intellectual struggles involved in arriving at research questions.

The concept: Two contributions from each author are presented: the original conference abstract or poster with comments and a final paper. The comments highlight the paper’s positive directions and ambitious goals, point out critical issues to explore, and also expose oversights common to the early stages of academic research. The papers are arranged to follow the typical steps a researcher takes in the journey of arriving at grounded questions, plausible hypotheses, or informed conjectures. Each group of papers gives a sense of what is generally required or achieved at that step. Taken as a whole, the papers show that arriving at research questions, hypotheses, and conjectures is an achievement and requires a demanding process that is often unfamiliar to and underestimated by beginning researchers.

The themes presented and discussed in this book include “service and socially oriented design, design thinking and method development, management of multidisciplinary design teams, and design as meaning construction. The special articles raise the fundamental and not-yet-resolved issues of the bases and purposes of design research” (Ed).

 Info about the Editors:

Rosan Chow is manager of the DRNetwork and senior research scientist at the Deutsche Telekom Laboratories.
Gesche Joost is co-initiator of the DRNetwork and professor in design Research at the University of the Arts Berlin.
Wolfgang Jonas is co-initiator of the DRNetwork and professor in system design at the University of Kassel.

Posted in design research, Literature | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book (german): Entwerfen – Wissen – Produzieren

[Claudia Mareis, Gesche Joost, Kora Kimpel (Hg.)
Entwerfen – Wissen – Produzieren. Designforschung im Anwendungskontext;
Language: German; Nov 2010, 302 S., Transcript; ISBN 978-3-8376-1463-3]

”Knowledge” and “Research” have become key terms for design. The reciprocal relationship between design practice and production of knowledge has been elementary for the discourse amongst the design research community. One of the central aspects refers to the question regarding the context of appliance, reflected in the paradox situation: on the one hand production of knowledge approaches problems of societal relevance, on the other hand, commercial aspects become obvious, relevant and possible.

Considering (scientific) Research as a subset or “branch of design” as Ranulph Glanville does it, we shall keep in mind the different directions design research traditionally approaches: one referring to the theoretical knowledge enlarging and consolidating design’s professional working practice. The other referring to practical interventions, which can, in turn, be transferred and re-contextualized in a theoretical (design) field of knowledge.

Design research practice relating to things and their impact on social action, lead to general and methodological questions about how to describe and analyse such constellations. The interdisciplinary contributions to this edition, resulting from last year’s DGTF conference in Berlin, point up how practical and theoretical design knowledge, along aesthetic, epistemological, cultural, social and economic boarders, is being perceived and disputed within this field.

The topics discussed in this book reach from notions about the Practice of “Entwurf”, e.g. concerning aspects of “Knowing and Not-Knowing” (Peter Friedrich Stephan) or “Hypotheses” (Gert Hasenhütl), to questions around the Research-Through-Design debate (Rosan Chow), Interaction Design Research (Kees Overbeeke et al.) or a general understanding of Design as an implicit culture of knowledge (Claudia Mareis).

Overall the book collects both controversial and convincing statements and positions towards the questions how design research that includes experimental design practice, can utilize the researcher’s background as a practitioner, and make the practice become an elementary part to the research.

Strongly recommended!

Posted in design research, german/deutsch, Literature, philosophie, research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Raul Krauthausen presents wheelmap at TEDxBerlin (german)

Posted in german/deutsch | Leave a comment

Sing Languae Advent Calendar

[sign language advent calendar by kindergebaerden]

For the final spurt juntil xmas jwe wish everybody a good time.
You may enjoy it even more with the Sign Language Advent Calendar by Kindergebärden, which from now on daily opens a calendar door on its website, presenting xmas-songs, -verses and -rhymes, accompinied by sing-language-for-kids.


Posted in deaf | Leave a comment

Universal Design – Versuchter Bericht vom Fachforum

Gern hätten wir an dieser Stelle vom Fachforum  “Universal Design – Unsere Zukunft gestalten” berichtet, welches das IDZ (Internationales Design Zentrum Berlin) mit dem Kompetenznetzwerk Universal Design heute am Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend veranstaltete. 

Ein Beginn mit Verzögerung, eine 30-minütige, streckenweise reduntante Begrüßungsrede des Staatssekretärs und eine anschließend abgespielte, 10 minütige und gänzlich unkommentierte Powerpoint-Slideshow nahmen uns leider einen großen Teil der Zeit, die wir eigens für diese Veranstaltung mitgebracht und eingeplant hatten.

[Die dazugehörige Publikation ist gegen 5 EUR Schutzgebühr erhältlich.
Oder alternativ per kostenlosen PDF download]

So blieb uns leider keine Zeit mehr für die Podiumsdiskussion, aber immerhin noch genug für den Eröffnungsvortrag Peter Glasers, dem wir immer wieder gern lauschen. Anstatt sich in gut gemeinten aber oft gehörten Allgemeinplätzen zu verlieren,  setzte Glaser unter anderem sich überschlägig aber dennoch auf den Punkt gebracht, kritisch mit der Frage auseinander, wie eine Gesellschaft überhaupt strukturiert sein muss, in der eine Idee wie Universal Design entsteht, und (ob oder) inwiefern diese letztlich umzusetzen sei.

Dies veranschaulichte er mit anekdotischen Beispielen gespickt, wobei uns insbesondere die Episode aus Kairo nachhaltig in Erinnerung bleiben wird. In Kairo – Glaser weiß dies als Rollstuhlfahrer aus eigener Erfahrung zu berichten – sind, sofern vorhanden, die Bürgersteige bisweilen ziemlich hoch. Lediglich streckenweise sind sie über Treppenstufen vereinfacht zu erklimmen, für Rollstuhlfahrer jedoch scheinbar gänzlich ungeeignet.

Das besondere nun:  Die Einwohner Kairos scheinen sich der Situation bewusst zu sein, so dass Bedürftigen (mitunter ungefragt) stets geholfen wird. Die universelle Grundlage einer funktionierenden Gesellschaft findet hier also bereits da statt, wo sie hingehört: auf sozialer Ebene.  Was die Notwendigkeit, den universellen Gedanken auf gestalterischer Ebene mitzudenken freilich nicht schmälert.

Posted in Conference, report, universal design | Leave a comment

Universal Design Conference 2010 – Report from Hamamatsu

Colleague and friend Stefan Goellner just got back from his trip to Japan, where he visited the 3rd International Conference for Universal Design in Hamamatsu. His conference report for the DRNetwork is being shared here:

Universal Design – strongly supported by Ron Mace in the 1980s at New York State University – has since then become a well known concept, ranging similar to »inclusive design« and »design for all«. Mainly based on 7 basic principles it is worth questioning how influential the concept is today and which impacts it has for today´s design community. The international conference for Universal Design is a four-yearly event which provides the most prominent event to verify this question.

The 3rd issue of the conference was held in Hamamtsu and thereby took place in Japan for the second time. After a delayed and a little bit obscure review process the conference was organized with great perfection and conducted with japanese the perfection and the routined kindliness that Japan is famous for. Hamatsu considers itself being the first „universal design“ city and thereby emphasizes the japanese aspiration to adopt the concept in large scale. Hence the prominently staffed japanese opening commitee underlined the importance that universal design has gained in Japan for both policy and product development – which are rooted in the impending effects of the „hyper-aging“ society that Japan represents.

The Japanese perspective was later contradicted by the keynote of Prof. S. Sandu (UK) and the statements by Prof. S. Balaram (India) who recalled the limits that the original universal design rules imply with regard to the needs of less prosperous countries. This was illustrated by only one contribution touching India and no contribution concerning Africa in the last issue of the Universal Design Handbook – the most prominent publication within the community. They claimed that the rules lack a certain degree of inclusion itself and touch the problems of a minority of humans at the foremost, while ignoring the basic concerns of the »majority world«. At the same time they highlighted the opportunities that suitable design norms and recommendations could have especially for countries where the discipline still has not been seriously considered as an important factor for enabling economical and societal development.

In the following days the conference contrasted the various expectations and premises that Universal Design offers in a wide ranging scope of presentation originated in 38 participating countries – although the number here is as misleading as the announced 12.000 visitors. Still, the presentations proved that the concept in general gains a high level of acceptance and is relevant for design researchers as well as academics and national policy makers. Scandinavian countries (Norway and Denmark in particular) appeared here to be most advanced, in implementing universal design principles in national regulations. On the other end practioneers like Eiichi Kono or Angela Morelli proved that »universal design« is often equal to »good design«, which always implied good practical knowledge and multi perspective thinking.

The fact that the Universal Design concept can reach beyond issues of disabilities was also presented in the associated Universal Design exhibition: business driven products from major companies were shown in parallel to prototypes from university research and an exhibition regarding life improving products for third world countries designed by IDEO.

The conference revealed that Universal Design could gain even more attention and impact if it motivated a deeper debate about the opportunities and constraints of possible design-transfer among different countries, cultures and people. It turned out that the original demand for equalizing any environment has turned into an obligation to debate the possibilities for this transfer. This not only asks for the adoption of products to different grades of abilities but for a deeper knowledge about regional specifics and localized requirements for product design – here the design research community could enlighten the debate about globalism from a viewpoint that it currently left for big brands and multi national companies. However suitable platforms and exchange formats are still missing. Hopefully the next community event (Oslo 2012) will pick up this gap.

— Göllner —
Posted in accessible, Conference, report, universal design | Tagged | Leave a comment

Andy Miah speaks at our Research Colloquium (November 22)

On November 22 (Monday), Andy Miah gives a talk at our T-Labs’ Research Colloquium.
Don’t hesitate to spread to spread the word and feel free to join!

*** Research Colloquium ***

Date: 22.11.2010
Time: 14.00 – 15:30
Location: Deutsche Telekom Laboratories,
Auditorium 1 (20th floor), Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, 10587 Berlin

TITLE: Posthuman Designs: The Accumulation of Biocultural Capital

SPEAKER: Prof. Andy Miah

Over the last 10 years, the growth of human enhancement technologies has been accompanied by global debates about the promise and peril of an emerging posthuman era. This presentation will discuss recent contributions from bioartists and biodesigners to the ensuing bioethical debate about transhumanism, which promises to reconstitute how we make sense of biological and social norms. In so doing, it introduces the concept of biocultural capital to explain how the pursuit of better humans is consistent with the pursuit of a healthy, long life.

BIO: Professor Andy Miah, BA, MPhil, PhD, is Chair of Ethics and Emerging Technologies in the Faculty of Business & Creative Industries at the University of the West of Scotland, a Global Director for the Centre for Policy and Emerging Technologies, Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, USA and Fellow at FACT, the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, UK. He is author of ‘Genetically Modified Athletes’ (2004), co-author of ‘The Medicalization of Cyberspace (2008) and Editor of ‘Human Futures: Art in an Age of Uncertainty’ (2008).

HOST: Tom Bieling


Posted in event, neuroscience, posthumanism, Transhumanity | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Zwischen Mensch und Maschine – Vom Glück und Unglück des Homo Faber

„Technisierungsprozesse sind dann problematisch …, wenn sie die Offenheit des Menschen nicht mehr befördern, sondern unterlaufen. Dies ist etwa dann der Fall, wenn die neurotechnologische Option als einzige Selbstentfaltungsmöglichkeit gesehen wird.“

Mit dem Buch “Zwischen Mensch und Maschine…” beschert des Philosophen Oliver Müller (Institut für Ethik und Geschichte der Medizin, Freiburg) beschert uns der Suhrkamp Verlag (Edition Unseld) Aufschlussreiches zum Themenkomplex zwischen theoretischer Umdeutung und technischer Optimierung menschlicher Körper- und Lebenswelten.

[Suhrkamp, Edition Unseld, 2010; 214 Seiten; ISBN: 978-3-518-26029-6]

In seinem Essay geht Müller auf neueste technische Zugriffsmöglichkeiten auf das menschliche Gehirn ein, wobei er einen starken Fokus auf Formen der Selbstinstrumentalisierung, der Selbstverdinglichung und der Selbstcyborgisierung setzt, die in der technisch veränderten Wahrnehmung der eigenen Person und in der Selbstanpassung an die Perfektion technischer Prozesse liegen.

Der Herausgeber skizziert dies wie folgt: “Mit seiner Technik formt der Mensch schon längst nicht mehr nur die äußere Natur, sondern auch sich selbst. Neben der biotechnologischen Manipulation des Genoms sind es zunehmend Neurotechnologien, mit denen der Mensch sein eigenes Selbst verändert und gestaltet. Mit dem therapeutischen Erfolg dieser Technologien stehen neurotechnologische Umbaumaßnahmen von Körper und Geist am Horizont, die auf die »Optimierung« des Menschen angelegt sind […] Die Chiffre des Homo faber erfaßt das Unglück, das im Fortschrittsglück des Immer-Besser-Werdens liegt”.

In einem kürzlich geführten Interview mit Joerg auf dem Hoevel über chemo- und neurotechnologische Umbaumaßnahmen an Körper und Geist, beschreibt Müller, welche Auswirkungen derartige Technisierungsprozesse auf Selbstsein und Selbstverständnis haben können.

Link zum Interview.

Posted in german/deutsch, interview, Literature, neuroscience, philosophie, posthumanism, Transhumanity | Tagged ,

Internship at Design Research Lab

The Design Research Lab of T-Labs Berlin is currently looking for somebody to support their activities in the area of Designing & Prototyping Interactions.

The Design Research Lab is led by Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost. A team of young researchers devotes to contribute both theoretical and practical knowledge to design research and discourse, nationally and internationally.

You will be working with us on experimental prototypes.

If interested, candidates would be offered much space for original ideas, from quick and dirty prototypes to high-quality implementations. Plus: a fantastic view over Berlin from the 17th floor.

The activity in this specific project includes conceptual, scientific and practical work. In addition to general research regarding Interaction Design student workers will help design and build conceptual and working prototypes that will be tested during the course of the project. Collaboration in scientific publications of the design research lab is possible.

We offer an insight into a practical project with experimental scientific methods and the building of knowledge for the field of design research to engage in.

Collaboration is limited to 6 months. The internship is paid.

As an ideal candidate you study Interaction or Industrial Design, Telecommunication Engineering or Media Studies. In order to be eligible for the position, applicants must be enrolled in a university.

Following skills are greatly appreciated:

• Prototyping (with e.g. Arduino, Processing, etc)
• Fluent English skills (German would be a plus)

The position is available starting January 2011, project duration will be 3-6 months.

If you are interested, please send your short portfolio and CV to this guy!

Posted in interaction, jobs

Voll behindert – Aktion Mensch Campaign

At the end of a recent public discussion of ours, there was an active dispute about the latest AKTION MENSCH campaign. Not all of the participants were familiar with the campaign, thats why we share it with you here:

[All three pictures taken from the AKTION MENSCH campaign, 2010]

And this one here is taken from last year’s campaign. It reads: “Who sees the disability first, does not see the person”. 

[AKTION MENSCH campaign 2009;  Agency: SelectNY Berlin; Foto: Benno Kreahahn Berlin)

Posted in advertisement

Beatiful Freak

“… Some people think you have a problem
But that problem lies only with them …”*

[eels: *beautiful freak, album cover; 1996]

According to the “freaks”-subject, this beatiful catchy title-tune from EELS’s melancholic 1996-debut has been on top of our playlist all day, today.

Unfortunately we could not find any original music-video material or hq live versions, so we share this cover version with you. Well, at least…

Posted in freak, movie, music, pop culture

Victorian Freakshows

For centuries the word ‘freak’ has been used cruelly to describe people born with ‘abnormal’ features, or those able perform extraordinary physical acts by contorting or misshaping their bodies.

Freak shows were a particularly popular form of entertainment during the Victorian period, when Exhibitions of live human curiosities had appeared in travelling fairs, circuses and taverns in England since the 1600s. These included so-called giants, dwarves, fat, thin people, etc.

The British Library in their Bodies of Knowledge section has collected some striking examples of Advertising Freak Shows…  

[The Giant Amazon Queen, 1882; The British Library Board]

[“Chang” and “Eng” the world renowned Siamese twins, 1869; The British Library Board]

[Chang the Great Chinese Giant, 1880; The British Library Board]

[KRAO The missing Link; The British Library Board]

[Lalloo, ‘The greatest living wonder in the world’, 1887; The British Library Board]

[Living Mermaid; The British Library Board]

[Harvey’s Midges: the smallest people in the world; The British Library Board]

[The Great American Prize Lady, 1868; The British Library Board]

[The Giant Amazon Queen, 1882; The British Library Board]

[G.A.Farini’s Tattooed Greek, 1880; The British Library Board]

[Watsons’s Living Curiosities, 1885; The British Library Board]

[‘What is it?’, an act shown at The Royal Surrey Zoological Gardens, c.1846; The British Library Board]

Posted in advertisement, art, visual communication

Conference Review: Sustainability in Design NOW! (Bangalore/India 2010)

We recently attended the Sustainability in Design: NOW! Conference in Bangalore/India. The Conference was promoted and organized as the concluding event of the EU funded LeNS project, which aims at the development and diffusion of design for sustainability in design institutions.

As a “regenerative” web platform the network allows interested people to up- and download
open source and copyleft learning resources that can be modified/remixed and reused, i.e. adapted according to each one’s specific didactic needs, institutional requirements and local context peculiarities.

Although this Learning-by-Sharing approach is honourable, one might critically put into question the difficulties in guaranteeing quality in education here. Thus the Sustainability in Design: NOW! Conference offered a good opportunity to act as a platform for sharing knowledge and experiences not only in Product-Service System design, to promote sustainable systems thinking in design education, research and practice communities, but also in discussing chances and barriers of implementing best-practice models from one context into another.

Based on the assumption that sustainable development requires a system discontinuity (In other words: radical changes are needed in the way we produce, consume and socially interact), it has more or less become common sense amongst large parts of the design community, that these changes will not only be technical, but also social and ethical. A shared opinion is also that, not only that action should be taken now (!), but that important contributions to change are directly linked to the role of design.

Many projects and presentations at the conference have shown and discussed this link from various perspectives. The results can be seen in the big proceedings package (2 volumes = 1700 pages), that can be downloaded here:

Proceedings Volume I
Proceedings Volume II

Some of the presented projects seemed good, some of them seemed to be running on spot, but most of them probably and stayed unknown for the majority of participants, unfortunately. Victor Frostig later summarized this old problem many big conferences still seem not to be able to get a grip on: “To choose lectures only by their title is gambling on your time. At least the abstracts could be forwarded ahead of time”.

Although the conference organizers did a fantastic job, and we really have to thank and congratulate Carlo Vezzoli and the whole team for all their effort, in this aspect Frostig is definitely right. We were not the only persons around the refreshing discussions during the coffee breaks, who regretted the feeling to have sat in “the wrong presentations” too many times.

While such organisational aspect can definitely be reworked next time, the more important aspect will be the one concerning content. Some talks used and promoted strongly questionable approaches and ideas of/for sustainability. Although some of these have been discussed individually amongst some of the participants, a bigger forum (and use/practice) of discussion in the beginning and end of the conference, could have been helpful.

Jinan KB formulated an important aspect, which wonderfully represents the ambiguity among many sustainability-discussions: “The mind set seems to be the same: Wanting to save the world, wanting to save the poor etc and also talking about profit at the same time. Or else we should make it clear that we only have ‘academic’ interest in this new issue which can be turned in to a department and new products for business. The whole green architecture has become a farce.”

This is only one challenge, and something that the design learning community as a whole must come to terms within an arena that is increasingly interconnected and based on knowledge-sharing.

Nevertheless we also saw some inspiring stuff. Only to mention a few, I heard interesting aspects in the talks of: Birger Sevaldson (“Systems oriented Design and Sustainability”), Jinan Kb (“There is nothing called waste in indigenous ‘illiterate’ communities! So what do they do with our waste?”), or in Aguinaldo dos Santos’ Key Note (“Designing Leapfrog Solutions”), where he emphasized that systemic change is a slow process, since it involves collective learning, which again can be triggered by small solutions.

John Thackara (“The Pretending Phase Is Over”) was good, although not surprisingly new. Ezio Manzini (“Design Research Topics in the age of Networks and Sustainability”) instead also summed up in his keynote parts of his already well known work, but formulated it into what he calls the SLOC Scenario (“Small Local Open Connected”), which as a term (better: working title) was at least new to us. Eloquently he once more described that a scenario is not only a wish, but it relates to something that can be true. Working towards sustainability, he claims, therefore also requires “to look at and use best what we have now”. In his vision of letting design schools become distributed design agencies for a sustainable change, he did not miss to correctly advise to also be cautious: Ideas of “Small”, “Local”, “Open” or “Connected” are not by definition good!

One central aspect (not only in Manzini’s work) is that change must come from what is configured as ‘normal’. An aspect which is also very close related to our personal field of research. We therefore agree with what Tom Fisher mentioned in an after-conference online discussion: “The most interesting academic discourse I have found on sustainability is about re-configuring ‘normality’. And in principle, Design is able to engage with that re-configuration”.

It mainly were discussions like these (including the contradictory or unsatisfying ones), and not least the warm and friendly atmosphere, that made this conference still worth a visit. Taking also into account the aspects that could be optimized, chances are pretty good that the title for the (yet unplanned) next conference, that Carlo Vezzoli suggested in his opening statement will turn to be the right one: Sustainability in Design: WOW!

Tom Bieling

Posted in Conference, sustainability and social innovation | Tagged , , ,

Phantom Recorder

British Designer Revital Cohen comes up with this vision:

“When a limb is lost, the mind often develops a phantom sensation. The phantom owner is suddenly endowed with a unique and personal appendage, invisible to others and sometimes capable of extraordinary hyperabilities. As strategies for repair focus on practical solutions, they tend to overlook poetic functions of our body, but what if one could record and keep their phantom sensation, to be awoken on request?

[Phantom Recorder | foto/text: Cohen]

A novel peripheral nerve interface allows regenerating axons to grow into microchannels incorporating embedded electrodes. This neural implant enables sensations to be inserted to the device, or for activity to be recorded from movements. Could we use this technology to record illusions of the mind? What if our imagination could be captured through our nerves?”

Posted in design project, design study

Book Review: Care in Practice –

[Annemarie Mol, Ingunn Moser, Jeannette Pols (eds.)
Care in Practice – On Tinkering in Clinics, Homes and Farms
326 pages, 35,80 €, ISBN 978-3-8376-1447-3]

In a recent transcript publication «Care in Practice – On Tinkering in Clincs, Homes and Farms», Ingunn Moser, Annemarie Mol and Jeannette Pols assemble 14 articles around in what way “care” is a matter of “tinkering”. Addressing different areas between Science and Technology Studies (STS), Clinical Practice and Ethics, Medical Anthropology, Medical Sociology and Disability Studies, this book illustrates an inspiring path towards the questions how care produces or creates its objects, bodies, patients and carers; and how care incorporates knowledge and technologies.

“Rather than presenting care as a (preferably »warm«) relation between human beings, the various contributions to the volume give the material world (usually cast as »cold«) a prominent place in their analysis” (Publisher). It therefore perfectly fits into general discourses amongst the STS community about relationships between scientific and technological innovations and society, and the directions and risks of science and technology.

The book consequentially explores “care” and “technology” in their interplay and avoids to separating them as strong opponents. Since care can actually be found everywhere, it offers a fruitful perspective if seen as an alternative metaphor for world-making. What if we analyse, categorise and evaluate world, technologies, bodies and daily lives no in terms of e.g. construction, production or competition, but in terms of care? Thus the editors underline an aspect of inherent normativity in STS. If science is obviously so good in deconstructing things, then what do we care about, or: How can care be good?

Assembling mainly ethnographic studies, the book hereby assembles consistent works of well acknowledged researchers such as John Law (this time: on veterinary practices) or Myriam Winance (on disability), complementarily enriched by further perspectives, for example by the artistic, performative austrian research group “Experiment!”.

Read carefully!

Posted in care, Literature, report, STS



The Wiicane by Touch Graphics uses Wii motion tracking technology to provide real-time feedback as users walk up and down a 30′ long indoor course.  It is promoted as a ” system for promoting proper use of the long cane in orientation and mobility training for young children and others […] By practicing with WiiCane, some users may learn to walk straight without veering, potentially leading to safer independent travel.”

[WiiCane by Touch Graphics]

Here is a short video, shown on NY1:

Thanks to Sara at AblerSite for pointing me to this one.

Posted in blind, tactile communication

“We have never been…” – Rule of Three.

In Per-Olof Hedvall’s Book “The Activity Diamond – Modeling an Enhanced Accessibility”, which he elaborated at Lund University’s Department of Design Sciences, he assembles three quotes, to be shared here now.

The first two of them are surely pretty popular. The third one, he added by him self, can at least be read with a little “;-)”

“We have never been modern.”
Bruno Latour, 1991

“We have never been human.”
Donna Haraway, 2008

“We have never been universal.”
Per-Olof Hedvall, 2009

Posted in Uncategorized

Rebecca Horn (Video, 1974)

After we have reported on Rebecca Horn’s project here recently, especially about here project “Finger Gloves”, we found one of the videos we were actually looking for.
Here it is:

Posted in art, performance, senses

Performing Disability – Lisa Bufano und die Schönheit des Makels

Double amputeed performance artist Lisa Bufano has turned her “loss” into a profound artistic pursuit that has made her an award winning artist. Originally focused on animation and doll making as a means to explore her body, in 2005 she turned the tables and made her body the focus of her creative expression, exploring dance and performance.

[Lisa Bufano]

You can see video of her performances here.
and here:

Four Legs Good – Lisa Bufano

Posted in disability aesthetics, performance

Self Labelling and Identity (Video)

As continuing part of David Reville’s foresaid course “Mad People’s History,” this one is about “mad people’s” self definitions , -understandings and -descriptions. “We call mad people lots of names. Most of them are not meant to be complimentary. But what do mad people call themselves? Do they accept labels that others stick on them? Do they apply their own labels? Why might one person choose a different label than another?” (Reville)

Here you can watch the short documentary in which twelve Toronto activists discuss how they identify themselves:  Self Labelling and Identity

from ChangSchool. © 2010 Ryerson University

Posted in disability studies, Film, research

Mad People’s History (Video)

In his online course at Ryerson University,  David Reville, an instructor with the School of Disability Studies, explains how the history of madness differs from the history of psychiatry, and highlights the importance of including the diverse perspectives of people diagnosed as mad, insane, or mentally ill.

In this course, the stories of mad people are considered to address a question that is rarely raised in academic circles: in their own words, what is the history that mad people have lived over the centuries and what are the implications of that collective experience for contemporary times?

Here is the introducing video clip:

Introducing Mad People’s History from ChangSchool. [© 2010 Ryerson University]

The central aspect is about the difference between history of psychiatry and mad people’s history. While the former is about the psychiatrist’s perspective, the latter focuses on the concerned people’s perspectives.

Reville also mentions (but does not deeper describe) the fact that “madness is different when you are e.g. a woman, gay or low classed”

To be continued…

Posted in disability studies, research

Medic Esthetic – Good ol’ Shoe

In her project Medic Esthetic, Gwendolyn Huskens of Design Academy Eindhoven deals with the beauty of imperfection, using medical materials like synthetic plaster, bandages and stainless steel in white and skin tones, to make these shoes. A quote from this project: “The esthetics is superior to the wearability”.

[Foto: René van der Hulst]

via: todayandtomorrow

Posted in design project, disability aesthetics, fashion

Three Recent Books on Disability, Aesthetics, Art and Film.

Three releases around the body, from three different perspectives.

In the first one, “Re-Presenting Disability: Activism and Agency in the Museum”, the Editors Richard Sandell, Jocelyn Dodd and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson broach the issue surrounding disability representation in museums and galleries.

[Richard Sandell (et al.) (Routledge 2010):
Re-Presenting Disability – Activism and Agency in the Museum
304 Pages; ISBN-13: 978-0415494731]

Twenty researchers, practitioners and academics from different disciplinary, institutional and cultural contexts seperately explore issues surrounding the cultural representation of disabled people and, more particularly, the inclusion (as well as the marked absence) of disability-related narratives in museum and gallery displays.

The publisher describes this volume as of provocative and timely contributions.  The diverse perspectives featured in the book offer “fresh ways of interrogating and understanding contemporary representational practices as well as illuminating existing, related debates concerning identity politics, social agency and organisational purposes and responsibilities, which have considerable currency within museums and museum studies”.

Some of the issues explored in the books are about historical representations in the collections and displays of museums and galleries, and the questions of how newly emerging representational forms and practices can be viewed in relation to these historical approaches.
Furthermore it discusses emerging trends in museum practice – designed to counter prejudiced, stereotypical representations of disabled people – relate to broader developments in disability rights, debates in disability studies, as well as shifting interpretive practices in public history and mass media.

Later on, it is being discussed what approaches can be deployed to mine and interrogate existing collections in order to investigate histories of disability and disabled people and to identify material evidence that might be marshalled to play a part in countering prejudice. 
From a practioner’s point of view, it is asked how such purposive displays might be created and what dilemmas and challenges are curators, educators, designers and other actors in the exhibition-making process, likely to encounter along the way.
Last but not least – concerning the audiences – disabled and non-disabled – it discusses reasons, chances, challenges and barriers to respond to and engage with interpretive interventions designed to confront, undercut or reshape dominant regimes of representation that underpin and inform contemporary attitudes to disability.

In the second Book, “Disability Aesthetics (Corporealities: Discourses of Disability” Tobin Siebers effectively complements and expands on themes in his recent book Disability Theory.

[Tobin Siebers (University of Michigan Press 2010):
Disability Aesthetics. 192 Pages; ISBN-13: 978-0472051007]

As already described earlier on, Disability Aesthetics is the an attempt to theorize the representation of disability invisual culture and (not only modern) art. It claims that “the modern in art is perceived as disability, and that disability is evolving into an aesthetic value in itself” (publisher).  

Siebers has already described in earlier publications (e.g. “What Disability Studies can learn from the Cultural Wars”, or “Zerbrochene Schönheit”) that the essential arguments at the heart of the American culture wars in the late twentieth century involved the rejection of disability both by targeting certain artworks as “sick” and by characterizing these artworks as representative of a sick culture.

This book now also tracks the seminal role of National Socialism in perceiving the powerful connection between modern art and disability. “It probes a variety of central aesthetic questions, producing a new understanding of art vandalism, an argument about the centrality of wounded bodies to global communication, and a systematic reading of the use put to aesthetics to justify the oppression of disabled people”.  Siebers illustrates the crucial roles that the disabled mind and disabled body have played in the evolution of modern aesthetics, unveiling disability as a unique resource discovered by modern art and then embraced by it as a defining concept. Altogether, Siebers summarizes many of his interesting thouhgts on the field of disability aesthetics, and gives an enlightning overview about this critical concept that seeks to emphasize the presence of disability in the tradition of aesthetic representation.

In the third Book, “The Problem Body: Projecting Disability on Film” by Sally Chivers and Nicole Marcotic (Editors) accomplish eleven international disability scholars to explore an approach to the study of film by concentrating on cinematic representations of what they term “the problem body.”

[Sally Chivers & Nicole Marcotic (Ohio State University Press 2010):
The Problem Body: Projecting Disability on Film. 
256 Pages; ISBN-13: 978-0814211243]

Introductorily Chivers and Markotic’s draw on disability theory and a range of cinematic examples to explain the term “problem body” in relation to its projection. In explorations of film noir, illness narratives, classical Hollywood film, and French film, the essays reveal the “problem body” as a “multiplication of lived circumstances constructed both physically and socially” (publisher). To call into question why certain bodies invite the label “problem” more frequently than other bodies, the contributors draw on scholarship from feminist, gender, race, queer, class, cultural studies, disability, and film studies arenas.

Posted in art, disability aesthetics, Film, Literature, movie

Tuuli Mattelmäki speaks at our Research Colloquium (on 23nd of august)

Another Talk, another interesting guest speaker:
On august 23 (Monday), Tuuli Mattelmäki from Aalto University Helsinki comes to talk at our T-Labs’ Research Colloquium. Here topics will range from design probes, empathic design, co-design to service design and design for user experience.
Feel free to join!

[Tuuli Mattelmäki]

TITLE: human sized research

SPEAKER: Prof. Dr. Tuuli Mattelmaki

I first introduce the new Aalto University and the current situation of design research in it. Then I will describe the approaches developed within design research including experience design and empathic design, design probes and co-design. Through examples and cases, such as the Ageing at work-project, I aim to draw a picture of what is valuable in human sized research.

Tuuli Mattelmäki is a senior researcher at Aalto University School of Art and Design. Her background is in industrial design and she is specialized in developing explorative methods for user-centered design. Her doctoral thesis Design Probes was published in 2006. Her publications include articles about probes, empathic design, co-design and design for user experience. Currently she is involved in Aalto Service Factory’s activities in various research projects related to service design.

HOST: Tom Bieling

The talk will start at 14h at
Deutsche Telekom Laboratories
Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, Berlin
20th floor

Posted in design project, design research, design study, event | Tagged , , , , , ,


Two weeks ago, the netherland-based Deaf-Party Crew SENCITY celebrated their first party abroad, here in berlin (Glashaus).

A great opportunity not only to meet our former colleague Oscar again, but also to get an idea of what the announced highlights would be like:

“Aromajockeys” (who used to big fans and two hotplates to exume different fragnances around the party-people),

[AromaJockeys; Foto: Tom Bieling]

“Sensefloor” (a light-effected floor to transmitt the bass-vibrations, however the wooden original floor in the backside of the room seemed to transmitt the vibrations much stronger),

“Taste Sensations” (not sure, where and what they were. we therefore concentrated on the taste sensations “beer” and “tequilla”) and

“Signdancers” (deaf dancers who performed on stage from time to time and performed very cool with sign-language choreografies in real-time to the song-lyrics).

Last but definately not least, it was an opportunity to see this night’s main act SIGNMARK perform live.

Deaf HipHop MC SIGNMARK has become kind of a role model amongst the international young Deaf Community over the years, and it was a pleasure to see the crowd (of which approximately a third must have been non-deaf) go mad and celebrate together to tracks like “Actions speak louder than words”

[SignMark: “If you wanna Talk to the man
The man don’t Listen, Talk to the hand!”
Foto: Tom Bieling]

Originally SenCity happens in Utrecht (once a year?). A long journey for us. But if they come back to berlin, we’ll show up again next time.

Posted in deaf, event, multimodality

Designing Inclusive Interactions

The next book on our Desktop is the Proceedings of the 5th Cambridge Workshop on Universal Access and Assistive Technology (CWUAAT), incorporating the 8th Cambridge Workshop on Rehabilitation Robotics, held in Cambridge (UK) earlier this year (March 2010).

The editors Peter Langdon, John Clakson and Peter Robinson assemble various authors and researchers from different fields. A little review is going to be posted here soon.

Patrick Martin Langdon, Peter John Clarkson and Peter Robinson:

Designing Inclusive Interactions –
Inclusive Interactions between People and Products in their Contexts of Use

Springer Verlag London
240 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1849961653

Posted in Literature

Making digital things graspable – Fabian Hemmert’s Talk at TEDxBerlin

Recently our colleague and friend fabian gave a fantastic presentation at TED‘s satalite in Berlin. Who missed his thoughts on ‘humanizing technology’ should check it out her:

Posted in Uncategorized

Tom Shakespeare speaks at our Research Colloquium (on 2nd of august)

This august is full of interesting guest speakers. Before Graham Pullin (august 9) and Tuuli Mattelmäki (august 23) come to talk at T-Labs’ Research Colloquium, we are happy to have Tom Shakespeare speaking on “What do we need to know about disability in order to design differently?”
Feel free to join!

[Tom Shakespeare]

TITLE: What do we need to know about disability in order to design differently?

SPEAKER: Dr. Tom Shakespeare

This talk will introduce the disability studies approach, in the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Disability studies is a multi-disciplinary field comprising social science, bioethics and the humanities.
Disentangling the barriers strand from the minority group strand offers different options for addressing the disadvantage experienced by people with disabilities – or should that be “disabled people”? Underlying this debate are ideas about normality, a concept which Lennard Davis has suggested only came to prominence in the early nineteenth century with Quetelet’s concept of L’Homme Moyen. How does the concept of Universal Design fit within different options for conceptualising disability as a political phenomenon? Can design help us rethink disability, in terms of environments, services and technologies which empower and include, rather than disable and exclude? Or should we forget all that, and concentrate on making disability sexy?

BIO: Dr Tom Shakespeare trained in sociology at Cambridge University and has researched and taught at the Universities of Sunderland, Leeds and Newcastle. As well as research and publications in disability studies, he has contributed to debates in bioethics and science communications.
His books include “The Sexual Politics of Disability” (Cassell 1996), “Genetic Politics” (Clarion 2002), “Disability rights and wrongs” (Routledge 2006), “Arguing about Disability” (Routledge 2009). He was instrumental in creating the public engagement programme of Newcastle’s Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute (PEALS), and subsequently played a role in the Beacon of Public Engagement project at Newcastle and Durham University. From 2004-2010, he was a member of Arts Council England, having participated in the UK disability arts movement since the early 1990s. He currently works for the World Health Organization, in Geneva.

HOST: Tom Bieling

The talk will start at 14h at
Deutsche Telekom Laboratories
Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, Berlin
20th floor

Posted in accessible, activism, alternative communication, augmentative communication, event, Experience Disability, people, philosophie, research | Tagged , , , ,

Graham Pullin speaks at our Research Colloquium (on 9th of august)

We are happy to have Graham Pullin as a guest speaker at our next Research Colloquium at T-Labs on monday, 9th of august. Graham will talk about aspects from his book, as well about some of his latest projects, e.g. the “speaking chairs”.
Feel free to join!

[Graham Pullin]

Research Colloquium 9th of august 2010:

“Design meets Disability”
Graham Pullin

Design is becoming more inclusive in the welcome participation of disabled people – but another group are often conspicuous by their absence in disability-related design: designers! The multidisciplinary teams involved are often exclusively clinical and technical, whereas the sensibilities as well as the skills of art-school trained designers would enrich the mix.
For example, radical but sensitive interaction design could make a contribution to the everyday lives of people with complex communication needs. Six Speaking Chairs from the author’s own research will be introduced, which explores more expressive tone of voice from speech technology. Subtle Subtitles by Calum Pringle uses speech recognition software to support people with dysarthric speech.

BIO: Graham Pullin was a senior interaction designer and studio head at IDEO London, where his clients included Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Intel. He is now Course Director of Digital Interaction Design (formerly Interactive Media Design) at the University of Dundee. He is author of Design meets disability published by The MIT Press, which argues that more radical design sensibilities could be invaluable in disability-related design.

HOST: Tom Bieling

the talk will start at 14h at
Deutsche Telekom Laboratories
Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, Berlin
20th floor

Posted in alternative communication, augmentative communication, design project, event | Tagged , ,

Lennard J. Davis speaks at our Research Colloquium

We are happy to have Lennard Davis as a guest speaker at our Research Colloquium next monday. Lennard will speak on the interconnections between science, medicine, technology, and culture, arguing that to separate these categories, as has been historically done, is no longer possible…
Feel free to join!

[Lennard J. Davis]

*** Research Colloquium Usability ***

Lennard J. Davis: Biocultures – An Emerging Paradigm.

Date: 07.06.2010
Time: 14.00 – 16.00

Location: Auditorium 1 and 2 (20th floor), Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, 10587 Berlin

Biocultures: An Emerging Paradigm
SPEAKER: Lennard J. Davis

Lennard Davis will speak on the interconnections between science, medicine, technology, and culture, arguing that to separate these categories, as has been historically done, is no longer possible. The 19th century division between the humanities and the sciences has led to a blockage in knowledge and production of information that now needs to be remedied by a recombining of these discourses. In the process of discussing this reformation, he will explore disability studies which is a natural intellectual and political venue for the reintegration process.

BIO: Lennard J. Davis is Professor in School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he had also served as Head. In addition, he is Professor of Disability and Human Development in the School of Applied Health Sciences of the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as Professor of Medical Education in the College of Medicine. He is also director of Project Biocultures a think-tank devoted to issues around the intersection of culture, medicine, disability, biotechnology, and the biosphere. His works on disability include Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body (Verso, 1995), The Disability Studies Reader (Routledge, 1996), My Sense of Silence (University of Illinois Press, 2000). His current interests include disability-related issues; literary and cultural theory; genetics, race, identity; and biocultural issues

HOST: Tom Bieling

Posted in design study, event | Tagged ,

Sanders and the participatory mindset

As one of the guiding figures in Co-Design Theory and Practice, Liz Sanders gives an overview of the design research landscape as it has emerged over the last 20 years. In her IIT lecture she discusses some of the recent developments with an emphasis on design-led approaches to design research, such as generative design language that can be used to facilitate collective thinking, making and telling between designers and non-designers. Watch the full clip here!

Liz Sanders at IIT Design Research Conference 2008 from IIT Institute of Design on Vimeo.

Posted in co-design, design research

Book Review (german): Fritz Kahn – Man Machine

[BuchCover: Fritz Kahn – Man Machine;  Springer Wien New York, 2009]

Halb Wesen und halb über Ding
Tom Bieling

Was haben eine Fabrik und ein Penis gemeinsam? Worin liegt die Parallele der menschlichen Verdauung zur Eisenbahntechnologie?

Synchron zur gleichnamigen Ausstellung in der Berliner Charité, bringen uns die Autoren Uta und Thilo von Debschitz mit dem Buch „Fitz Kahn – Man Machine“ das eindrucksvolle Werk des Berliner Mediziners, Wissenschaftsautors und Infografikers Dr. Fritz Kahn (1889 – 1968) nahe.

Insbesondere in den 1920/30er Jahren veranschaulichte dieser mit seinen hochgradig modernen Mensch-Maschine-Analogien den Aufbau und die Funktionsweisen des menschlichen Körpers, und trug damit wesentlich zu einer gleichermaßen medizinisch-inhaltlich gehaltvollen, wie visuell-analytisch ansprechenden Populär-Auseinandersetzug mit dem, bis dato eher der akademischen Welt vorenthaltenen, Objekt „Mensch“ bei.


Mit seiner Bildsprache in der er traditionelle biologisch-medizinische Veranschaulichungen der menschlichen Anatomie mit stilistischen Bezügen zum Surrealismus oder Art déco collagiert, wagt und versteht Kahn die Balance zwischen erzählerischer Plausibilität, humorvoller Dramaturgie, wissenschaftlicher Stringenz und Erkenntnisinteresse. Eine Mixtur die idealer weise den Laien gleichermaßen informiert wie den Fachmann beflügelt.

[*; Kahn: Kreislauf von Kraft und Stoff]

Der Untersuchungsgegenstand „Mensch“ erfährt in Kahns analytischen Annäherungen, in Parallele zu zeittypischen Diskursen über Körperbilder der Moderne, einen Deckungsbezug in der Konstruktion des Menschen als Maschinenwesen, das gleichermaßen in dem ihn umgebenden industriellen (Gesellschafts-) Apparat, zahnradgleiche Positionen übernimmt.

[*; Kahn: Auto und Ohr]

Streckenweise – so viel ist aus heutiger Sicht gewiss – schießen Kahns Visualisierungen in ihrer epischen Detailverliebtheit übers Ziel hinaus. Inhaltliche Korrektheit hat hier bisweilen unter einem mitunter über ambitioniertem metaphorischen Erzählstil zu leiden. Deutlich wird jedoch auch, dass heutige Wissenschaftsvermittlung, insbesondere in Bezug auf eine gesamtgesellschaftliche Breitenförderung, immer noch eine Menge lernen kann von visionären Darstellungsansätzen eines Fritz Kahn, in denen logisch-penible Kausalzusammenhänge nicht immer trocken-abstrakt transportiert werden müssen, sondern durchaus auch anderer (z.b. poetischer, visueller, metaphorischer) Darstellungsformen bedürfen, um sie einerseits zugänglich zu machen und andererseits für etwaige Ansätze, Nutzungen und Rückschlüsse potenziell zu öffnen.

[*; Kahn: Biologie des Bratendufts]

Das Buch „Man Machine“ ist somit zweierlei. Zum einen konserviert und beschert es uns die beinah vergessene Geschichte eines Deutschen Forscherschicksals: Kahns als dessen Hauptwerk geltende fünfbändige Reihe „Das Leben des Menschen“ (1922–1931) erfuhr seinerzeit internationale Beachtung. Bereits wenige Jahre nach seinem Erscheinen wurde es verboten und verbrannt. Als Plagiat erschien es dann erneut im selben Verlag – diesmal mit einem antisemitisch geprägten Zusatzkapitel.
Zum anderen ist dieses Zeitdokument in seinem populärwissenschaftlichen Ansatz hochaktuell, indem es nachfolgenden Generationen von Forschern und Gestaltern das Potenzial unterschiedlicher Wissensstile und Denkformen vor Augen hält.

[Tom Bieling]

* Alle Bilder: © Debschitz

Mehr infos zu Buch und Ausstellung

Posted in art, exhibition, graphic, Literature, STS, visual communication | Tagged , ,

Ramia Maze on social Inno

After Dr. Ramia Maze could unfortunately not attend personally the last DRNetwork Forum, she did an interesting online presentation.
I am not sure, if that video will be uploaded on DRNetwork, so in substitute i post her recent talk on Design for social innovation, she held at the IIT:

Ramia Maze on Design for Social Innovation from IIT Institute of Design on Vimeo.

Posted in design research, social design, sustainability and social innovation

No innocent Artefacts

Corinna Barth*, against the background of Technoscience and Gender Studies, here talking about technological Embodiment, Hybrid Artefacts, Dynamic Embodiment and artificial inscriptions of gender aspects.

According to Lucy Suchman, there ist no „Design from nowhere“ and therefore no “innocent artefacts”. Artefacts are rather located in societal-hierarchical structures of power. Coming from a theoretical gender perspective background, this lecture opens up interesting links to our topic. Watch the full clip here:

Here is the (german) short description for the lecture:

“Die Frage, ob Benutzungsschnittstellen vergeschlechtlicht sind, ruft zumeist zwei Reaktionen hervor. Entweder wird Technik prinzipiell als neutral deklariert oder es werden signifikante geschlechtsspezifische Unterschiede bei Nutzung von Schnittstellen unterstellt. Während die erste Position auf einem Wissenschaftsideal von rationaler, objektiver und wertfreier Forschung basiert, greift die zweite häufig auf vermeintlich körperlich begründete Differenzen zwischen Frauen und Männern zurück. Beide Auffassungen wurden von der Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung, Gesellschaftstheorie und den Gender Studies widerlegt. Es gibt kein „Design from nowhere“, wie die Wissenschaftsforscherin Lucy Suchman betont. Artefakte sind nicht „unschuldig“, sondern stets in gesellschaftlich-hierarchischen Machtstrukturen verortet. Subjektivität, politische Interessen oder vermeintliche Selbstverständnisse durchdringen soziale und wissenschaftliche Realitätskonstruktionen ebenso wie die ingenieurwissenschaftliche Konstruktion der Artefakte. So scheint auch die „Sichtbarkeit“ der gegenwärtig populär diskutierten Geschlechterdifferenzen (z.B. bei der Raumnavigation, bei sprachlichen Fähigkeiten oder der Nutzung verschiedener Hirnareale) stärker von zuvor festgesetzten Kriterien, Grenzwerten und Algorithmen abzuhängen als von den erzielten Messwerten selbst.”

* We recomend for example this one:

Corinna Barth (et al.) (transript 2005):
Materialität denken. Studien zur technologischen Verkörperung –
Hybride Artefakte, posthumane Körper.

Posted in gender, STS | Tagged ,

StreetLab at 4010

For those who have missed our recent talks at 4010 Berlin, here is a little press review about last weeks presentation about StreetLab:

Further Information to our talks at 4010:

Speechless @ 4010; may 21
StreetLab @ 4010; may 28

Watch out for the Networked Neighbourhoods Presentation next week (may 12 at 7 pm)!

Posted in co-design, design research

Trans-humanism and Post-Humanism

Following up our recent discussions on Transhumanism, here are three more short documentaries touching some of the major issues of the transhumanist movement, between critical positions of posthuman utopia and the ultimate “scientific dictatorship”.

Genetics, robotics, technocracy, artificial intelligence, bionics and nanotechnology: all concluding in a concept of “exceeding human limitations”, embedded in scientific, ethical, philosophical and metaphysical discourses about technological development.

The documentaries include interviews by Marvin Minsky, Bruce Sterling, Terence McKenna, Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Robert Anton Wilson, Richard Seed, Margareth Wertheim and others…

and one more video…

Posted in Transhumanity


The Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL), created by Cyberdyne Corporation to “upgrade existing physical capabilities of the human body”, weigths 23 kg and is comprised of robotic limbs and a backpack containing the suit’s battery and computer system.

The HAL suit identifies nerve signals from/to the brain using a sensor attached the wearer’s skin and a signal is sent to the suit’s power unit telling the suit to move in unison with the wearer’s own limbs.

Posted in Uncategorized

Mashing Up Computing & Biology

Andy Miah at the Amplified Leicester group in December 2009,  talking about transhuman ideas of transforming digital bodies to enhanced Humans, and other related ‘cyborg’ topics…

Posted in Transhumanity

Key Wheel

Anybody knows what happened to the OneHand Keyboard by Caracol?
About two years ago they came up with a concept for a centred “keywheel”, which was supposed to allow you to quickly spin any key you like to push…

Posted in design project, interaction

I.L.Y St. Pauli!

On the occasion of F.C. St. Pauli’s return to the Bundesliga, we send a big hello to hamburg and to one specific Fan Club: Deaf St. Pauli. We especially like their new logo, which combines the classic St. Pauli skull and crossbones with the Deaf Sign I L Y.

ILY is the internationally known in Sign language and stands for “I Love You”. It is at the same time a statement and declaration of solidarity for the Deaf Community and to Deaf Culture in general.

[FanClub Logo: Deaf St. Pauli]

[ILY = I Love You]

Posted in deaf, pop culture

Vibes, Rings and Visors

Korean Designers Kim Min-hee, Kwang-seok Jeong and Hyun-joong Kim come up with a concept for a clock, called “vibering”. The idea behind it: The clock and the corresponding rings “hear” noise and might warn (e.g. deaf) people who wear them.


So far we have no further information about this concept (e.g. what noise is supposed to be detected etc) .  Anyway, concerning the optics, zeitgeist already drew parallels to Geordi La Forges “Visor” in Star Trek.

[Star Trek’s Geordi La Forge with “Visor”]

Posted in blind, deaf, design project, Film, movie

What is beautiful?

‘What is beautiful?’, obviously one the guiding questions in terms of “norm” vs. “difference”, is also the title of the latest special exhibition at HYGIENEMUSEUM (Dresden). Our visit is planned for june. So here is a little film clip to be watched in advance…:

More info soon to come…

[Book Cover: Walther/Staupe/Macho: Was ist schön?; Wallstein 2010]
Posted in exhibition, Literature, movie

‘Speech Is Blind’ – Jacques Derrida On ‘Echo And Narcissus’

In this video document, Derrida discusses the Greek myth of Echo and Narcissus, linking ideas such as Echo’s repeating of Narcissus’ last words (in whatever he spoke), to the non-transparency, the ‘blindness’ that he feels characterizes all speech … however, Derrida maintains that Echo is able to ‘appropriate’ Narcissus’ language in such a way that it becomes hers, in a sense, subverting Hera’s punishment… he finally asks how two such ‘blind’ persons can love one another…

Watch the clip excerpt (2:55 min) here!

Posted in art, blind, philosophie

Derrida: Memories of the Blind.

»Ich schreibe, ohne es zu sehen. Ich bin gekommen. Ich wollte Ihnen die Hand küssen. Es ist das erste Mal, das ich im Dunkeln schreibe, ohne zu wissen, ob ich Buchsta­ben bilde. Überall, wo nichts auf dem Blatt stehet, sollen Sie lesen, dass ich Sie liebe«. [Diderot]

[Cover; Wilhelm Fink Verlag]

“Mit diesem Zitat aus einem Brief Diderots an Sophie Voll­and eröffnet Jacques Derrida seinen Essay über Malerei, Zeichnung, Visionen, Blindheit, Selbstportraits, Va­terschaft, Konversionen, Konfessionen und Tränen. In den Aufzeichnungen eines Blinden geht es um das Sehen in der Malerei und Zeichnung und dessen Zusammenhang in ei­nem Sehen jenseits der Sinne: visionäre Einsichten oder Er­leuchtungen, die in der Malerei oft als Blendung und Erblin­den dargestellt werden. Der Künstler sieht nicht, was er darstellt, so Derridas These, er arbeitet blind aus dem Ge­dächtnis und für das Gedächtnis.” (fink summary)

Jacues Derrida
Aufzeichnungen eines Blinden
Das Selbstporträt und andere Ruinen
Aus dem Französischen von Andreas Knop und Michael Wetzel
2. Auflage 2008, 166 Seiten, 71 teils farb.Abb., Franz. Broschur, EUR 54.00 / CHF 91.00
ISBN: 978-3-7705-3018-2

Posted in art, blind, Literature, philodhopir, philosophie

Experience research live at 4010

Next Week (April 21, 2010 at 7 p.m.) we will present some insights from our research process of the project speechless. Entrance is free; refreshments will be provided We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Presentation “Speechless – Researching alternative forms of interaction!”.

From March 24-May 12, 2010, the Concept Store 4010 in Berlin’s Mitte district invites those interested in communication and design to visit the “Telekom Laboratories weeks”. Scientists and developers from our Design Research Lab will be presenting selected topics from our work in the area of design research at various workshops, presentations and discussions. In parallel, an in-house exhibition will be displaying prototypes of communications devices developed at the Deutsche Telekom Laboratories on the subject of “gender-inspired technology” and “StreetLab”. 

Recently the event was launched by Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost, who heads the Design Research Lab at the Deutsche Telekom Laboratories. In her presentation on “Project G – Gender Inspired Technology”, she presented her experiences and the results of her research on the desires and visions that women have with regard to devices and services for communication and information retrieval.

Here is a short video impression from the opening presentation:

More of our presentations and events are scheduled in the coming weeks, such as “Speechless – Researching alternative forms of interaction!”, “StreetLab Neukölln” and the “Networked Neighbourhood” project.

Dates of upcoming events:

April 21, 2010: Presentation
“Speechless – Researching alternative forms of interaction!” with Tom Bieling

April 28, 2010: Presentation
“StreetLab” with Alex Müller, Tom Bieling and Jan Lindenberg

May 12, 2010: Presentation
“Networked Neighbourhoods” with Stefan Göllner and Jan Lindenberg

Entrance to the events is free; refreshments will be provided. Active participation and lively interchange are strongly encouraged.

4010 – der Telekom Shop in Mitte, Alte Schönhauser Straße 31, 10119 Berlin

Posted in alternative communication, augmentative communication, blind, Capability Simulation, co-design, deaf, design project, design research, design study, event, exhibition, Experience Disability, interaction, research

Reading Chart

Flipside of our latest flyer for a workshop on interaction and visual impairment…

[Designabilities // Tom Bieling]

Posted in advertisement, blind, design project, design research, disability aesthetics, visual communication

rhythm impaired – humorous campaign

US employment agencies have launched a national ad campaign to encourage businesses to employ workers with disabilities.

“The ads try to challenge misconceptions about workers with disabilities by offering humorous examples of ‘differences’ among people who are already employed. Among them: a young man doing a victory dance who is labeled ‘rhythm impaired.’

The accompanying ad copy reads: “Just because someone moves a little differently doesn’t mean they can’t help move your business forward.” (NY Times)

[Foto: ny times]

via Patricia E Bauer

Posted in advertisement, humor

sensory typo

A 2007 edition of ALPHABET magazine presented graphic design approaches to tactile visual styles. Varied custom braille typefaces included beveled typography for a sensory experience.

via network osaka

Posted in blind, graphic, typo

The Voder: first attempt to synthesise human speech

“The Bell Telephone Laboratory’s Voder* was the first attempt to synthesise human speech by breaking it down into its component sounds and then reproducing the sound patterns electronically to create speech.

That sounds simple in theory and, in fact it was. The Voder actually produced only two basic sounds: a tone generated by a radio valve to produce the vocal sounds and a hissing noise produced by a gas discharge tube to create the sibilants. These basic sounds were passed through a set of filters and an amplifier that mixed and modulated them until what came out of the loudspeaker sounded something like this.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, what was simple in theory was extremely difficult in practice. To get the machine to actually speak required an operator to manipulate a set of keys and a foot pedal to convert the hisses and tones into vowels, consonants, stops, and inflections. And the operator needed a year’s practice just to master the keys.”

(David H. Szondy)


Posted in Uncategorized

Rebecca Horn – Finger Gloves

German contemporary performance artist and filmmaker Rebecca Horn, performing her “Finger Gloves” in 1972.

The image below shows her performance piece in which she wears long balsa extensions on her fingers, an example of her body-extension creations, which play with ideas of touch, sensation, protection, and imperfection.

They are worn like gloves, but the finger form extends with balsa wood and cloth. By being able to see what she was touching and the way in which she was touching it, it felt as if her fingers were extended and in her mind the illusion was created that she was actually touching what the extensions were touching.

[Foto: Rebecca Horn; ‘Finger Gloves’]

Working with fiberglass without a mask before, had landed her with a serious lung disease, so she was hospitalized for a year for treatment and recovery. During her time in the sanatorium, she drew, and sewed, and tried to create objects that would extend her body from the hospital bed.

Another similar piece of hers is part of her Berlin Exercises series (1974) called “touching the walls with both hands simultaneously”. This piece includes more finger extension gloves, however this time measured so that they specifically fit the selected space. If the chosen participant stood in the middle of the room, they could exactly touch opposing walls simultaneously.

Posted in art, body modification, performance

Seeing beyond Sight – Photographs by blind teenagers.

 Seing the world through blind person’s eyes?!
Tony Deifell presents his photography project with blind teenagers on his website.

There is also a video about the project 

Posted in blind, photography | Leave a comment

museum of disABILITIES

A nice collection on disability representation in media, as well as related topics linked to disability and medicine, society, education and advocacy we find at the
museum of disABILITIES

[Foto: museum of disability]

Posted in disability studies

Human Augmentation

John hockenberry and Hugh Herr at MIT world on human restauration and augmentation…

watch the full clip here!

Posted in augmentative communication, multimodality, neuroscience, prosthetics

Prototyping in SecondLife – Experiencing Disability for optimizing Accessibility

Lloyd, Birchler and Perry developed a multimedia prototype of a virtual reality application for the NCA (National Center on Accessibility). The application would allow participants to explore issues of accessibility within public parks and recreation areas.

The used Second Life and Machinima to create the prototype for an application that would teach parks and recreation employees about issues of accessibility through the development and evaluation of virtual . One part of the application would require participants to complete job-specific tasks, such as an architect being asked to redesign the width and slope of a virtual ramp so that it meets federal accessibility requirements. The other portion of the program would have users’ avatars – which may or may not have disabilities – traverse the virtual challenge course either alone or with others who are logged into the web-based program at the same time.

In the following two pictures (from lauravlloyd) you see user’s avatars experiencing the virtual challenge course:

The following screenshot would let a parks and rec architect know the status of his/her accessibility training:

Found at Laura Lloyd’s

Posted in accessible, Experience Disability, prototyping, virtual reality | Leave a comment

disability and virtual reality

As already mentioned in our recent post disability and virtual reality in our research we lay one focus on the imagery and reprasantation of disability in virtual reality (as well as in the world of mass media and pop culture), to figure out different reasons for and relationships of showing and hiding disability.  

we therefore collect and analyse images in advertisment, movie, literature, but also in computer gaming and virtual worlds such as SECOND LIFE, just like these:

[A line of wheelchairs in Second Life, via Second Edition]

[second life]

[The two pictures above: SecondLife, found at metaverse ]

You may find more information on this at “Theory and Research in HCI”:
Avatars for the wheelchair-bound: The value of inclusion in digital spaces

Posted in virtual reality

Accessible Wadden Sea

Mobility in the mudflat…

[Picture (now anonymised) found at: buesum24]

Posted in Uncategorized

Music and Deafness

In the context of popular music, there has always been an ambivalent relation to Loudness. On the one hand, certain music needs a certain volume to be fully perceived by the audience (think of live gigs or parties), on the other the hearing organ is a very sensitive one, that needs to protection.
Within this ambivalence, sometimes some kind of coolness factor comes into play. Like “Oh, yesterday was so loud, i feel kinda deaf now. yeah!”

Many Bands, Fans and Party-Promoters deal with that topic, e.g. with the naming of events, album-titles etc…

[Punk Band “Disorder”, 7 inch EP: “Distortion To Deafness”]

[Electro/Abstract Act “Sudden Deaf”, Flyer 1]

[Electro/Abstract Act “Sudden Deaf”, Flyer 2]

[Industrial Band “Deaf Machine”, Album Cover: “Transistor”]

[Psychedelic Band “Deaf”, Album Cover: “Alpha”]

[“Queens of the Stoneage”, Album Cover: “Songs for the Deaf”]

[“Clawfinger”, Album Cover: “Deaf Blind Dumb”]

[Experimental/Progressive Band “Deaf Avenger”, Album Cover: “Queen of Infinity”]

[“Sudden Deaf”, Band Logo]

[Harcore Band “Deafness by Noise”, Flyer]

Posted in deaf, music

Roller Disco?

[picture source: unknown]

How might we bring assistive products/technologies and aspects/activities of entertainment to a fruitful and enriching fusion? Let’s take pictures like the one above as a though-provoking source of inspiration.

Posted in Uncategorized

“Pictograms” for the Blind?

[Elevator Buttons – Braille subtitled; Foto: Tom Bieling]

Taking the elevator this morning again, i was asking myself:

Are there any kind of “non-visual” pictograms or icons for blind people? For me as a non-blind person my life is often supported by visual support, as e.g. the Emergency-Button in an elevator: Different and significant in color and visualisation, i can immediately identify such very important button in an elevator.

While, as we can see on the picture above: A blind person has to read the whole word, before he/she knows, that it belongs to the emergency-function. The other text-descriptions are much shorter (“E”, “1”, “2”, …).

This means, that in the blind world people have to deal with reversed functions. In the visual world of non-blind people special/important information is meant to be identified quicker then other information.

In one of my up-coming studies, i want to find out, if and how we could design concise information for blind people (either using braille or not), that could be analog to the idea of pictograms.

Posted in blind, design research, visual communication

Forbidden Language – Verbotene Sprache

[Forbidden Language – Verbotene Sprache; DVD Cover]

My colleague Corinna, just told me about this Swiss documentary about the Sign Language Artist and Poetry Slammer Rolf Lanicca.

It has recently been released on DVD. Here is the Trailer!

Posted in deaf, Film, movie

Computer learns Sign Language

Researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Leeds have been experimenting with a tracking system: simply by watching TV the computer learns to match subtitles and Sign Language…

The following short clip is german:

Posted in Uncategorized

Exploring Disability – The hard way ;-/

Rough suggestions for wrong parking offenders on this inofficial traffic sign:

via: Ehrensenf

Posted in Experience Disability, visual communication

Man Machine – Fritz Kahn’s Körperbilder der Moderne

Tonight starts the exhibion on Frith Kahn, entitled “Fritz Kahn – Maschine Mensch”, at the Berlin Museum of Medical History of the Charité (university hospital), presenting more than 100 illustrations of this incredible visionary.

We are looking forward to see and report from it. The exhibition goes until april 11.

Posted in art, Calendar, exhibition, graphic, research, visual communication

Access Denied – Making a Statement with Sculpture

Interventional 3D Street-Art found through Woostercollective.

“My sculptures look at access and disability in the built environment. My aim is simply to get people talking about disability, using symbolism not as a design element that dictates to us what to think but an object that provokes thought in context.”
… Ben Bostock.

Posted in art

The end of “normal” human functioning in sports – Is the world ready for “cyborg” athletes?


Already some time ago, Sentient Developments posted an interesting article on the general discussion of the use of prosthetic help in sports. On the occasion of the example of double-amputeed runner Oscar Pitorius, it raised the question, whether his prosthetic legs give Pistorius an advantage over able-bodied runners. 

Read the full article here!

Posted in prosthetics

Tod Browning’s FREAKS

[Film Poster, MetroGoldwynMayer, 1932]

In this fantastic movie, that has been named a “humane-tenderley horrorfilm” (KSTA), the physically deformed “freaks” are inherently trusting and honorable people, while the real monsters are two of the “normal” members of the circus. 

Classic, this one! Beatiful, rough, honest.

Posted in disability studies, Film, movie

I can not see my opponent, but i smell his fear!

Paralympics-Campaign for the “Behinderten- und Rehabilitations-Sportverband Hamburg” (Agency: Red Rabbit)

Posted in advertisement, blind

Conference Report: PRESENT DIFFERENCE – The Cultural Production of Disability (Manchester)

Just got back from „Present Difference – The Cultural Production of Disability“, a Conference at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), that brought together academics, writers, artists, performers, broadcasters, film-makers and one design-researcher (;-)) to explore the cultural production of disability. 

A good opportunity to see the Keynotes of Lennard J. Davis, David T. Mitchell and Scharon L. Snyder  of whom I had read various papers and books already. Unfortunately I could not stay until the end, that why I missed crip theorist Robert McRuer’s closing Keynote on “Enfreakment;or, Aliens of Extraordinary Disability”. 

[Lennard J. Davis giving his keynote on „Producing Discorders of Difference: Transforming Obsessives into Cultural Icons“]


Many papers broached the issue of Disability representation in TV and movies, a topic that also found a good summary in Lennard Davis’ opening Keynote on “Producing Disordrs of Difference: Transforming Obsessives into Cultural Icons”. According to his latest book Obsession. Davis explained different social, cultural and historical roots of the creation and production of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).


OCD has gone from a really rare disease in the 1950s to a very popular one nowadays (“oh, I am so OCD”). Davis states, it became an iconic disability in media and culture in general (“Obsession as a cultural goal”). In his talk, he explored some “feedback loops between scientific research, medical practice, popular culture, and the general function of illness and disease, particularly affective disorders, from a larger viewpoint than psychiatry or psychology generally offers”.

Furthermore Davis talked about embodied Difference and distinguished between identities one can choose, and such one can not choose. He linked that aspect to the general discussion about a general concept of “normality”. (“What is normal? The most important things, people want to know from their medical doctor are: Your blood pressure is normal; the baby is normal…etc”).   


[Roundtable Discussion: (f.l.t.r.:) David T. Mitchel, Stuart Murray, Robert McRuer. Not in the picture: David Bolt]


We will discuss some of the further projects and topics, seen at this conference in the following blog-entries (e.g. Simon McKeown’s animation of “MotionDisabled”, or Justin Edgar’s Film “Special People” which was screened at Manchester Cornerhouse Cinema yesterday).

Finally I would like to state, that I enjoyed the roundtable discussion at the end of Day 2, a general discussion about the future of cultureal disability studies and its struggle with internal definition and external acceptance. An important topic and obviously one hour was not enough for satisfying solutions, since this topic contains so many different aspects, including a culture of Funding, Publishing, Interdisciplinary collaborations, as well as standpoints to different research paradigms, like for example the bio-cultural concept.

Tom Bieling

I apologize for the poor quality of the picture snapshots. I forgot my camera :-/

Posted in Conference, disability studies | Tagged , , , , , , ,

One Day blind in Berlin

Check out our video from our Self Experience “One Day blind in Berlin” (we reported from it in november here!):

How do blind people navigate in public areas?
How do sighted people react on a blind person?
How does it feel if you have to orientate and navigate by acoustic and sense?
These are some of the questions we asked ourselfes before we went out to experience, what it is like to be »one day blind in berlin«. Some of the answers on these questions might not be new, but for us the experience definitely was!

On that day we went e.g. to the mostly very crowded »Alexanderplatz«, visited a big shopping mall and several shops and stores, tried on clothes, received some shopping consultations, bought stuff, took a ride with the underground metro and the suburban railway, went to »Brandenburger Tor«, walked down the Street »Unter den Linden«, grabbed some food, and had a coffee.

Posted in blind, Capability Simulation, design research, Experience Disability, Film, movie, senses

Dancer in the Dark

Selma (Björk), who is becoming blind, has “seen it all” in Von Trier’s “Dancer in the Dark”:

Posted in blind, movie, music, performance, pop culture

Ben X

“In games you can be what you want to be. But here, you can only be a man” says the protagonist in this movie about a authist boy, who struggles with everyday life and flourishes in the virtual world.

Here you can watch a german short documentary about the movie, taken from the TV show “Titel Thesen Temperamente”:

Posted in movie

Robot People – Super human strength by wearable power assist suits

Besides the questions about hoe environment changes the body and vice versa, we like to ask further questions related to embodiment:

What belongs to a body and what not?
When does a body stop be be human, and when does it start to become artificial?
How is steroid use different than enhancing the body with prosthetic devices?

In this context we follow the discussion on the development of motorised-geriatric manufacturing and other related technologies, like the pneumatic “Wearable Power Assist Suit”, that has been developed at the Kanagawa Institute of Technology.

[Power Suite by Kanagawa Institute of Technology]

Other examples (sources unknown):

Posted in Uncategorized

Body and Environment – Mutual Influence

[Joris Laarman‘s Bone Chair]

Since we have been aksing ourselves, how odies and environment influence one another, we are not only looking for evidence of body modification caused by artificial world, but also of  artifacts influenced by body model.

Laarman’s “Bone Chairs”, inspired by human bones growth, are one of such examples for biomimetic techniques. In face of various contemporary project examples of grown objects and material, it does not really matter, wether this example might just be an “illustrative biomimicmarketing of a clever stylist” (like nextnature brings it up to discussion).

However important is the evidence, that body and environment definately can and do inspired one another, wheter in a mechanical/technical or in a rather aesthetic way.

[Joris Laarman‘s Bone Chair]

Via nextnature and  Coolhunting. See also: Treetrunk Bench, Folding Chair, How to grow a Chair, Sketch furniture, Living Furniture, Dynamic Terrain.

Posted in reciprocal learning

Visual Activism – Disability Rights Movement on the banner

Here is some from our collection of activism graphics around the disability rights movement. As far as we know, all authors are unknown.

[“Ich bin/werde behindert” by Dieter Werdel]

In Germany, in 1981 (the UNO year of the Disabled), the “Krüppelbewegung” (“Cripple Movement”) started their Anti-Campaign “Year of the DISABLERS”:

[The three figures represent the letters UNO]

[The “Krüppelzeitung” as a media channel played an important role in the german disability activist movement. On the cover picture above, Franz Christoph is about to hit the German President Carls Carstens]

Posted in activism, advertisement, art


The poster from the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics uses abstract shapes in a rework of the Olympic logo as a celebration of diversity – catchy, nice and simple.

Posted in advertisement, graphic


What a pity, that we missed last year’s electronic art exhibion thisAbility vs. Disability –
Looking at Disability through Creative Senses
in Seoul.

The exhibition presented ten interactive electronic art installations examining themes of human capability through creative transition of the senses.

The curators’ intention was to invite a “reappraisal of disability”. An excerpt from the Annoncement: “the Visitors enjoy creative alterations of auditory, visual and tactile sensations that may cause them to question themselves; in the process, they may also re-examine bases of their social judgments. These artworks can spark revelations that break social prejudice and affirm difference.”

Unfortunately we could not experience the shown material, but at least we get an idea from it, reading the descriptions and looking at the pictures on

including: “a painting “seen” by your hand touching the wind; a digital musical instrument played by facial gestures; a robot responding to your voice; a table converting your touch into light; a block transforming Braille into sound; and harmonic bells giving sound to your heartbeat”.  

Posted in blind, deaf, design project, embodiment, exhibition, Experience Disability, interaction, multimodality

Disability Embodiment & Performance Technology

[Digitally manipulated still from siren show; woman with outstretched arms]

Disability and Embodiment have a long tradition in performing arts and performance studies.  This combination of topics has obviously been increasing in face of the growing implementation of technology.  

Interesting literature has been published quite a lot about that.  Representatively for the moment i would like to add one paper by Petra Kuppers (published in the proceedings of the Congress on Research in Dance, Tallahassee, Florida, 2005), where she broaches the issue of different uses of technology in contemporary disability performance work and the potential relations between media technologies used as part of dance aesthetics and (the contemporary developments of traditional) access technologies.

There is certainly a lot more and really good books out there (* Just two out of many are shown here, below this text!). But i would still like to post the link to Kuppers’ paper here, since she strikes some interesting thoughts in her text:

“The use of technologies in community performances create nexi of problems around access, power, centre and periphery, background and foreground, ownership, presence and representation.”  

* these are the books, mentioned above!

[Klein, Gabriele / Sting, Wolfgang: Performance – Positionen zur zeitgenössischen szenischen Kunst]
[Meyer, Helge: Schmerz als Kunst – Leiden und Selbstverletzung in der Performance Art]

[Both books by transcript]

Posted in embodiment, performance

Portrait of a disabled Man – Schönwiese’s Documentary awarded!

[“Bildnis eines behinderten Mannes”*, Maler unbekannt, 16. Jahrhundert; Öl auf Leinwand, 135 x 110 cm; Schloss Ambras, Österreich]

Resulting from his research project “Das Bildnis eines behinderten Mannes” (= Portrait of a disabled man), which also included the similar entitled exhibition at Schloss Ambras (Austria) and Book**, Volker Schönwiese recently presented a 45 min. documentary, which was now awarded at Canada`s first international disability film festival‘.  

* The picture is one of the first known pictures showing a disabled person, that is presented in a way of a personal portrait.

More infos on the original picture at wikipedia:


Posted in disability studies, Literature, movie