Recently, some of the researchers and designers from the DHW lab spent time in the UK with our colleagues from the Lab for Living in Sheffield. This opportunity arose from the successful Catalyst Seeding Grant:
Catalyst: Seeding funding is provided by the NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand. This programme is aimed to facilitate new small and medium pre-research strategic partnerships with a view to developing full collaborations that could be supported through Catalyst: Strategic over time. The application centered around developing the partnership the DHW lab has with Sheffield Hallam University’s Lab4Living, and AUT Centre for Person Centered Research and will explore design opportunities for people living with dementia in hospital and the community.
One of the specific learnings for us here at the DHW lab was the research they are conducting around 'objects as dialogue' i.e. how objects and exhibited artifacts might facilitate user engagement around a specific social issue or research question and provide valuable inputs to a design process.
In a session with a community support group for elderly and dementia sufferers, the ‘Exhibition in a Box’ was introduced; a specific discussion topic was given to the group, and in pairs we took turns using an object from the exhibition to interpret the discussion topic.
The ‘Exhibition in a Box’ exercise was developed as a portable version of the successful 2012 ‘Engagingaging’ exhibition; a series of everyday timber furniture pieces modified in some way to provoke discussion about the needs, preferences and aspirations of older people in the home, in order to design better products and services that support independence in later life.
Instead of bringing elderly people to an exhibition, the ‘Exhibition in a Box’ transforms the environment of the elderly person into the exhibit. The product is now being used across Europe by clinicians looking for creative new ways to connect with their elderly patients.