First Co-Design Workshop: Taking Concept Ideas To The Next Level

From 5 to 7 June the first co-design workshop of the meSch project took place in Amsterdam and The Hague. Teams of almost all partners in the consortium met to catch up after the kick-off meeting in Sheffield in February, while new members of the project were introduced into the group. The three days were packed with brainstorming sessions, showcasing and testing of developed prototypes and a discussion of all the different design concepts. These sessions led to the shaping of various scenarios that will provide inspiration and input for the authoring toolkit that is to be developed in the meSch project.

Co-design workshops in the meSch project

The meSch project has adopted a co-design methodology. Co-design goes a step further than user-centred design and involves end-users and stakeholders in the creative process, they become co-creators and not just a consultative body.

Collaborating at the co-design workshop

Collaborating at the co-design workshop

Co-design events are organised throughout the project. They provide the opportunity for technical partners, designers and heritage professionals in the consortium to work together and discuss issues and opportunities in developing the authoring tool. These events will for instance clarify what curators want to enhance in the museum and what kind of connections with digital content they envisage, the desired functionalities for the authoring tool, basic templates that could ease the start of authoring, and the design requirements for interfacing personalised cultural data with end-users.

This co-design methodology is implemented within a learning-by-doing framework: the prototypes are not seen as demonstrators of achievements but as a way to learn through the process of making. This is a well-known practice in design research that advances the project iteratively through design and evaluation phases. Iterations are functional to the project’s progress toward its final goals.

Result of the co-design workshop in Amsterdam and The Hague

The workshop, organised by the University of Limerick, provided the opportunity for the consortium members to visit two of the museums that are part of the meSch project: the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam and the Museon in The Hague. Through the guided tours of the museums’ permanent and temporary exhibits and depots the people involved in meSch could experience first-hand the space, the collections and the type of visitors they are dealing with. The tours also offered insight into the curatorial approach of the museum professionals as well as an idea of the museums’ approach to technology.

Photo of people trying out interactive displays at Museon

Trying out interactive displays at Museon

Presentations of the prototypes followed by evaluation and discussion on the first day, together with the tours, provided input for the brainstorming that was done in groups on the second day of the workshop. The six groups were put together with at least one person from one of the three museums, one person with a design background and one person with a more technical orientation. On the third day everyone met up at the Waag Society in Amsterdam. After a tour through the FabLab which is hosted in the Waag building  each of the groups had to choose an idea from the day before and work it out to a full scenario, working on a storyboard and presenting it finally as an animated movie.

The workshop also featured an exercise, initiated by project partner Sheffield Hallam Universitywhereby the entire group was encouraged to map the possibilities for the project in terms of context, contents and interactions. This led to a group discussion as to what are the contexts we should plan to adapt to and what are the ultimate expectations for the system.

Mapping ideas in terms of context, contents and interactions

Mapping ideas in terms of context, contents and interactions

The collaboration between people from different backgrounds and the development of complete scenarios meant that the actual challenges these museums face and goals they want to accomplish were directly addressed. The ability for the museum professionals and designers to immediately discuss the pros and cons of different design approaches proved to be highly effective within the co-design process. At the end of the workshop, a set of defined scenarios had been formulated which will be further developed for group work between the partners in the upcoming months.

Next co-design workshop

In October all project partners will meet again on the full project meeting in Trento, Italy. Here all project partners have the chance to visit the third museum in the consortium, the Museo Della Guerra. The workshop will revise the concepts generated in the first co-design workshop while simultaneously work towards the definition of smart objects that will be part of the final exploratory prototype set.

More blog posts about the co-design workshop will appear soon!

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