User-centered design, participatory design and cooperative design are closely linked to the early Living Lab-movement (Ballon & Schuurman, 2015). Design thinking and principles of UCD are also still building blocks within a lot of contemporary Living Labs (Ståhlbröst, 2008; Bergvall-Kåreborn et al., 2015). However, one of the challenges when letting end-users take a more active role in the innovation process is to translate their inputs into design. Moreover, end-users lack the background and insights of professional designers which limits their potential to design their own solutions based on their explicit and latent needs. Therefore, within this workshop, we will introduce a strategic design framework (Manzini & Vezzoli, 2003), consisting three determinants: usage, technology and market. This design framework helps to structure co-design efforts, improves the quality of the eventual solutions and facilitates the process of product innovation in general. We will illustrate and introduce this framework based on smart city best and worst practices.

We will start the workshop by splitting the participants into smaller groups and doing a free-form ideation and co-design exercise for all participants for specific smart city challenges. After this initial phase, the design thinking framework will be introduced and illustrated with hands-on examples. Subsequently, the ideation and co-design exercise will be repeated with the participants using the ‘usage, technology & market’-framework to improve their ideas and design. As a final step, the participants present their outcomes and reflect upon the process. This will give them a better insight in co-design processes and how to introduce design thinking principles and techniques to users.

Workshop organisers:

Kathleen Vinck (user specialist @ imec.livinglabs and design researcher at University of Antwerp) After obtaining a Master’s Degree in Design Sciences, Product Development in July 2016, Kathleen started working as a researcher for the University of Antwerp. Her research field included design for sustainable behavior, user-centered design and product design. In 2017 she  joined the imec.livinglab, where she complements the team by using the expertise she acquired during her studies and work experience.

Dimitri Schuurman (Team Lead User Experts @ imec.livinglabs and a Senior Researcher @ imec-mict-Ghent University). Together with his imec colleagues, Dimitri developed a specific living lab offering targeted at entrepreneurs in which he has managed over 100 innovation projects. Dimitri is responsible for the methodology and academic valorization of these living lab projects and coordinates a dynamic team of living lab researchers. His main interests are situated in the domains of open innovation, user innovation, and innovation management.

Aron-Levi Herregodts (user specialist @ imec.livinglabs), is since 2015 Living Lab researcher at imec.livinglabs and affiliated researcher at imec-mict-UGent. He obtained masters’ degrees in Communication Sciences (UGent, 2013) and Complementary Business Economics (UGent, 2014). As a user expert, his role is to translate user behavior, needs, and wants to tangible recommendations to provide structure to the innovation process of both SMEs and large organizations. His main research interests include open innovation, user innovation, organizational learning, intermediary activities and user-centric design and methodologies. He is also preparing a Ph.D. on the appropriate configuration of intermediary – user oriented – activities with innovation-relevant actors depending on the type of entrepreneur and innovation maturity.


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