Track Chair: Dr David Pérez

Short Abstract:

This track is an invitation to explore collaborative practices that foster the participation of those excluded. We want to discuss design research initiatives that contribute to creating conditions for collaboration in communities united by practice, geography or needs.



Collaboration, co-production and co-design are concepts that have become widely used to addressing social inequalities and expanding the scope of design. Also, collaborative approaches have been used in organisations to achieve common goals across multidisciplinary teams (Danese, 2006). These approaches seek to enable those affected by the changes from implementing technologies or policies to influence design processes (Robertson & Simonsen, 2013). Common aims in these areas of design include fostering democratisation, empowering people, and creating new knowledge and sustainable solutions (Zamenopoulos & Alexiou, 2018).

The participation of diverse groups is critical for achieving genuine collaboration and reducing inequalities in addition to having positive effects on the outcomes of design work. Contrasting voices and perspectives are needed now more than ever. Effective participation can be found in projects as diverse as patient engagement in health studies, community engagement, or engagement with people with lived experience in policy studies, and engagement with young people in education. Design researchers contribute to this purpose by providing scaffolds in the form of processes, tools and methods , and safe spaces (Bustamante Duarte et al., 2019) to catalyse diverse groups’ creative participation.

Working Safely Together is when collaborative design practices provide the conditions to protect people and achieve desired outcomes that benefit them. Some examples include giving accessible conditions for collaborations with excluded (digitally, physically, or mentally), underrepresented communities or vulnerable groups. Working safely together can be also seen within companies, promoting collaborations within organisational structures, developing inclusive ways for working remotely, for instance. The scope of working safely together also covers the creation of safe conditions for collaborations, considering sanitary regulations and hygiene standards during the pandemic.

This track welcomes theoretical and empirical contributions that illustrate co-design initiatives which promote genuine participation between individuals or groups. We look for examples of multidisciplinary and cross-sector collaborations within and outside academia. This track welcomes the discussion of cases that shed light on how co-design and participatory design can support decision-making and engagement processes with diverse communities. We encourage papers that introduce new perspectives on co-design and participatory design tools, methods and practices when working with people under adverse conditions.

We invite participants to explore the following interrelated research questions:

  • How can effective co-design approaches generate long-lasting positive impacts in communities?
  • How can design researchers generate scaffolds and safe spaces for inclusive collaborations?
  • What approaches have been adopted to sustain collaboration in times of social distancing and remote working?
  • How can collaborative design practices enable the collaboration of people that have been socially, physically or digitally excluded?


Bustamante Duarte, A. M., Ataei, M., Degbelo, A., Brendel, N., & Kray, C. (2019). Safe spaces in participatory design with young forced migrants. CoDesign, 1–23.

Danese, P. (2006). Collaboration forms, information and communication technologies, and coordination mechanisms in CPFR. International Journal of Production Research, 44(16), 3207–3226.

Robertson, T., & Simonsen, J. (2013). Participatory Design: An Introduction. In T. Robertson & J. Simonsen (Eds.), Handbook of Participatory Design (1st ed., pp. 1–17). Routledge.

Zamenopoulos, T., & Alexiou, K. (2018). Co-design As Collaborative Research (Connected Communities Foundation Series). Bristol University/AHRC Connected Communities Programme.