Lifelines: users and designers as persons in relation
Prof Sarah KettleyZoom
This paper discusses the sometimes deeply relational nature of doing design with users, viewed through the lens of the Person-Centred Approach (PCA) (Rogers 1961/1967). A case study is used to illustrate an encounter of relational depth experienced by students working directly with individuals to design their own prosthetics. Lifelines is a creative project brief which asks a person, in this case the ‘user’, to represent ten significant moments in their lives through the creative use of materials and found objects. Through this activity, it was hoped that the student designers would be able to move beyond the conception of the user as being defined by a need or perceived (dis)ability, and that the intimate and personal nature of identifying and representing these moments would make visible questions about expectations around objectivity, towards a reflexive development of the use of self in relation with others in research for design. Working in this way was experienced by the students as profoundly moving, with some powerful moments of personal and interpersonal growth. Such moments pose an ethical requirement for self-awareness on the part of the researcher, as well as offering transformational potential for all involved.