Details on article

Id 207
Author Cortés-Rico, L., ; Piedrahita-Solórzano, G.,
Title Participatory Design in Practice. The Case of an Embroidered Technology.

Cortés-Rico L., Piedrahita-Solórzano G. (2015) Participatory Design in Practice. The Case of an Embroidered Technology. In: Abascal J., Barbosa S., Fetter M., Gross T., Palanque P., Winckler M. (eds) Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2015. INTERACT 2015. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 9298. Springer, Cham.

Keywords Participatory design; Crafts; Embroidery; Representation; Dialogue; Recognition; Tangible user interfaces and social technologies
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Abstract This paper presents a project for the social development of ICTs, which used a participatory design approach and sought to have a high social impact on a community of craftswomen (embroiderers from Cartago, Colombia). Participating in this project implied active dialogue with the community to recognize the knowledge of each participant and achieve culturally relevant representations materialized in technological artifacts. We posit dialogue, representation and recognition as key elements for developing successful participatory design. In practice, this was achieved through an iterative, incremental and open-ended methodology, whose main feature was engagement by doing. This process of design allowed engineers to recognize the craftswomen’s traditional knowledge and allowed craftswomen to be less afraid of technology. The main resultant artifact was a tangible user interface that facilitates dialogue between fashion designers and embroiderers in the process of designing new embroidery patterns. This and other artifacts that emerged from the activities and dialogues, the level of engagement of the participants, and the convergence points discovered between embroidery and technology, lead us to conclude that the process presented here can be replicated with other craft communities, to reinforce these communities and assist them in generating innovation in their processes and products.

Metodology Methodologically, this project was organized using four iterative, incremental and open-ended milestones to achieve a successful technological design: recognition and reflection, ideation, prototype and experimentation. – Recognition and reflection implied continuous active observation and receptive listening, involvement in one another’s practices, as well as analysis of related work. This was accomplished through ethnography, hands-on workshops, surveys, meetings and informal chats. Through ethnography, the academic community recognized that in Cartago, calado embroidery and design are understood as completely separate forms of knowledge. Calado is usually associated with tradition and commonly used and done by elders, while design is related to young people and innovation. This recognition was the motivation for creating a technology that could bridge the gap between the design and making of calado. – Ideation was based on desiring, proposing, discussing and negotiating ways in which technology could be woven into the context. In this case, we travelled through many ideas, from the desire for an artifact in order to smell, taste and listen to embroidery patterns, to more realistic ideas such as representing stitches in a way that would allow users to explore new possibilities with them. – Prototype refers to the act of giving form to ideas. This form is a representation of an idea that allows people in the team to express, communicate, share, manipulate, modify, transform and discuss thoughts. In our project, one of the engineers had the idea that a calado stitch could be expressed as a drawing. The resulting prototype was a set of sketches made with different color pencils representing physical constraints of the materials, as well as the form that this stitch would have in an embroidery. – Experimentation indicates the scenario in which prototypes were manipulated by all members of the team. This milestone is mainly focused on sensitizing participants to use their hands to explore, learn and test prototypes, and is thus strongly connected to reflection. In relation to the prototype mentioned above, when embroiderers experimented with the sketches they did not feel motivated to translate them into calado. They argued that though they could be embroidered as calado, they would not look like it. Reflecting on this, we realized that the novelty in calado is not in the design of new stitches, but in the way in which existing ones are combined.

Findings Participation was accomplished to the extent that dialogue between the different communities in the research project was achieved. A horizontal dialogue allowed negotiations and tensions to be easily translated into design decisions. Most significant dialogue was non-verbal and took place mainly in the hands-on workshops. These activities were focused on self- and mutual recognition, and on seeking the participatory creation of representative artifacts. Authors also realized that the design was incrementally achieved by thinking ideas collectively, giving them a form, experimenting with them and then reflecting on the process. Actively involving communities facilitates their empowerment, their appropriation of designed artifacts and also makes possible the local development of new sustainable social technology. Giving embroiderers and fashion designers the role of co-designers offered a more realistic interpretation of the way in which technology involves users: through use, artifacts both modify and are modified by ongoing practices. The plurality and heterogeneity within and between the participating communities in this project led authors to conclude that PD does not necessarily imply the complete involvement of all actors in every task, all the time. Limited resources, geographical distance and specialized languages make such participation impossible. Instead, authors argue that recognition, dialogue and representation, as presented in this work, are key elements for collectively materializing relevant artifacts as synergies of multiple kinds and forms of knowledge. They found out that crafts and technology design share a material dimension in which interacting through doing makes possible the creation of representative artifacts. This creation is achieved when each member is involved in the practices of other collectives within the research team, which generates connections between tradition and innovation, enriching craft without replacing the human role. In our project, getting involved in one another’s practices enabled engineers to be more reflective about the complexity of the knowledge in the hands of embroiderers, but also revealed to caladoras connections between their knowhow and technology that differed from automation. These results may encourage the replication of the presented process with other craft communities, as a way of bringing innovation into their own processes and products.
Open Access YES
DOI DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-22698-9_35
Search Database SC (Scopus)
Technique Observation; Survey; Workshop; Discussion sessions
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