Integration of Skills and Intuition as Vehicles for Ethics

Integration of Skills and Intuition as Vehicles for Ethics workshop

Designers face the world’s complexity at an experiential level. We consider Making (synthesising and concretising) an essential activity of designers, prior to Thinking (analysing and abstracting), because only through experience – a result of acting in the world – we achieve meaning, funnelling human intentionality. Making enables designers to explore the unknown by trusting their senses, exploring resistance and ambiguity and by tapping into their intuition (Sennett, 2008). Because “intuition begins with the sense that what is not yet could be” (Sennett, 2008, p. 201), it involves skills, as skills are our way to make sense of the world, transform it and to cater for ethics.

During this one-day workshop, we aim to explore how the integration of points of view, using intuition through skills can cater for pervasive ethics.

The assignment is to design:

SESSION 1: an empowering/enabling tool that allows a person to experience another person’s skill. To be able to design such a tool, designers will have to go through several steps of documenting and reflecting upon their own and each other's skills.

SESSION 2: Design a product or a system, using the results of session 1 as a tool to design “completely disruptive” products, not directly relatable to the designer’s skills.

The results of the workshop will be presented in an evening event during the conference and published in the online platform


Caroline Hummels
Caroline Hummels (1966) is an associate professor and director of education at the department of Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). She has a background in Industrial Design Engineering (Master and PhD). Her research, education and design activities concentrate on developing a holistic design framework to answer the overall question “How to design for interaction within adaptive and highly dynamic systems with a special focus on aesthetics, resonance, embodiment, social interaction and living learning labs. She developed various installations such as ISH, next to design techniques and processes such as the Reflective Transformative Design Process, interaction maps & mechanisms, and interactive tangible sketching. She is a member of the steering committee of the Tangible Embedded, and Embodied Interaction Conferences (TEI) and she has been a member of a variety of program committees and national Think Tanks since 2001. She has given several keynote speeches as well as dozens of invited lectures and workshops at conferences, international universities and for industry. She has been guest editor of Knowledge, Technology and Policy and worked also as a visiting researcher at Media Lab Europe in Dublin for three months.

Kees Overbeeke
Kees Overbeeke, invited keynote speaker at this conference, studied psychology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (Ma 1974). After working there, he moved to the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, where he gained his PhD (1988) on spatial perception on flat screens. He headed the group of Form Theory as Associate Professor until his move to the Department of Industrial Design of the TU/e in 2002. During the 2005-2006 academic year he was Distinguished Nierenberg Chair at Design CMU Pittsburgh, USA. In 2006 he was appointed full professor at TU/e. He now heads the Designing Quality in Interaction group (DQI). DQI consists of nine PhD-ed designers, and is one of the leading design research groups in the world. He strongly believes that design research should be theory driven, and that collaboration with industry is paramount (among others, collaboration with Philips, BMW, Unilever, Nissan, Adidas, and Microsoft).

Kees Overbeeke (co-)initiated several new subjects in design research: design and emotion, funology, aesthetics of interaction, rich interaction and design and ethics. He published extensively on these subjects in journals, books and conference papers. He (co-)initiated the “Design and Emotion” and the “Designing for Pleasurable Products and Interfaces DPPI” conferences. He was keynote speaker, and member of the scientific committee, of several international conferences, and has been plenary speaker at CHI 2009 in Boston, USA.

He is also editor and member of the editorial board of several leading international design journals.

Ambra Trotto
Ambra Trotto graduated with honors in Architecture at the University of Florence (Italy) and is currently doing her PhD at the Eindhoven University of Technology, Department of Industrial Design, Designing Quality in Interaction Group, exploring the field of ethics in design for intelligent products and systems, applying processes that focus on the sharing of making in multicultural environments and has contributed to the foundation of the Rights through Making approach. She is a research fellow at the Department of Technologies of Architecture and Design “P. Spadolini” of the University of Florence (Italy) and teacher in the Masters’ Course in Design of the same University. She has been invited to lecture and give workshops in several Universities, such as Brazil (UNISUL) and the University of Bologna, Department of Engineering (Italy). She is part of the Norwegian Transplant Ideal Projects Lab board and she works as a consultant for international strategies of cooperation in the field of design research and communication.

The Workshop’s set up

The one-day workshop will be divided in two sessions. In each of them an assignment will be given.

The first part of the day will be dedicated to designing an empowering/enabling tool that allows a 3rd person to begin to experience the 1st person’s skill. To be able to design such a tool, we will require to go through several steps of documenting and reflecting upon participants’ own and each other's skills.

The second part of the day will consist of designing a product or a system, using the results of session one to design “completely disruptive” products, not directly relatable to the designer’s skills.

Let us explain the overall set-up of the workshop.

Documenting one’s own skill
Participants will be asked to choose a personal skill to focus on (e.g. cooking or playing a musical instrument) and make a short video documentary on the relevant elements such as: What is the skill about? Why do you do it? What does it mean for you? Why is it important or meaningful? What do you experience and feel when performing the activity? The goal of this first video (video A) is for each participant (person 1) to directly reflect on these questions, explore one’s own point of view and skill, and prepare himself for transferring the findings to another participant.

Documenting person 1's skill by person 2
As a second step, a fellow participant (person 2) will be asked to make a short video documentary (video B) about person 1’s skill, based on a demonstration and explanation of it in the context, documented with an interview by person 2 and, if feasible, by letting person 2 try out the activity. Every video B will then be presented to person 1 in order to show him a new perspective on his own skill. In this way, he would be able to see and reflect on the point of view of person 2. What did person 2 consider to be meaningful for person 1, what was person 2's own point of view? By showing such a “mirror”, person 1 can scrutinize their meaningfulness and point of view again, thus adding an extra layer of self-awareness.

The design of a tool by person 1 to let person 3 experience person 1's skill
Participants will then be asked to extrapolate one key aspect of their skill, which will serve as the starting point for designing a tool to enable any third participant (person 3) to experience part of the skill. Since unskilled persons 3 can never experience person 1’s skill in the same way, participants will be encouraged to explore all senses and to design their enabling tool beyond the boundaries and context of the original skill.

Documenting person 3's skill
Person 3 will be asked to try the tool while being recorded on video. Thereafter, person 3 will be asked edit this video on his experience of using the tool and developing the skill, and on the meaning of this experience for them: video C. This concludes the first part of the day.

Designing, using the enabling tool as inspiration
The second part of the day will be dedicated to designing a product, in teams, using the results of the first part of the workshop. The kind of product will be assigned by the coaches and will not be directly relatable (in function, interaction, or form) to the designer’s skills. A low-fi experiential prototype will be made by participants, so that other people can bodily evaluate their result.

Final presentation
During the final presentation, every team will show videos and designs (experiential tool and product), and meanwhile explain the process and reflect on it. This explanation will include a reflection on the connections between the points of view, how this influenced his “prehension” of meaning and how it contributed to the diffusion of ethics.


Realizing such a workshop in one day is an ambitious goal. It will be necessary to have a very well designed structure and ready tools. Participants will work with (1) videos, (2) low-fi prototypes and (3) the “time shrinking approach”.

By means of video they will document their skills and other people’s skills. Videos are the tool allowing for the integration of points of view. Additionally, materials will be provided to the participants, to be able to make low-fi models and proceed by means of cycles of bodily explorations and reflection-on-action. Thirdly, ‘time shrinking’ is an approach that de-multiplies time: e.g. for activities that normally take 10 minutes, only 1 minute will be available to carry them out. Accordingly, a one-week workshop can be squeezed into a one-day one. The advantage of putting participants in fast-forward mode is that it forces them to trust their intuition, abandoning rational thinking.

Expected Results

We expect the outcomes of this workshop to illustrate that the integration of different points of view is possible and the use of intuition, enabled by starting to design from one’s own skills (enabling the 1st person perspective), concur to enrich a design process and build the basis for a richer result in terms of meaning. And since this approach promotes iterations of Making and Thinking, it empowers towards ethics becoming pervasive in society. By generating new meaning, new shared values are formed and civilization can progress, in the symphonic richness of complex diversity.

Dissemination means

At the end of the workshop we expect to have design concepts, in the shape of low-fi experiential prototypes that can be shown to and tried out by participants of the conference. During an evening event, there will be a session of presentation of these results, which will be contextualized within the theoretical framework that characterizes our research group, Designing Quality in Interaction, which has produced this approach. The results will also be permanently published in the online Rights through Making showcase ( together with all the other projects that have been done under the same methodological umbrella. Involved people and participants will also be included in the same showcase, in relation to the concept/prototype they contributed to realize.


09.00-09:30 Welcome and intro workshop: goals, schedule, process, deliverables, time-shrinking method.
Making teams.
09.30-10:15 Reflecting on the skill you (person A) chose, record and edit video diary #1; pre-determine salient element.
10.15 Handing in video diary #1.
10:15-10:30 Break
10.30 “Interview” between 2 persons (A & B) about skills, making video diary #2 by person B and present to person A. Person A sets salient element and direction regarding domain shift.
11.45 Handing in video diary #2
11:45-12:45 Designing and building enabling tool
12:45-13:45 Lunch Break
13:45-14:45 Designing and building enabling tool
14.45-15:30 Confront person C with your design. This person will “master your skill”. You will act as person C for someone else and do the same.
15:30-15:45 Break
15:45-16.15 Person C makes video diary #3.
16:15 Introduction to part 2 of the workshop (three possible design directions)
16:30 Presenting documentaries and prototype within the team. Selecting skill and design direction.
16:45 Designing product and build low-fi experienceable prototype with the team
17:30-17:45 Break
17:45-18:30 Designing product and build low-fi experienceable prototype with team.
18:30 Final presentation documentaries and prototypes, and reflecting on the overall process.
19:00 End
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