The researcher group Malmö Living Labs has been awarded the prestigious Artful Integrators’ Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in the area of participatory design of information and communications technologies. The award emphasizes the importance of collaborative participation in design.
“It’s a very honorable award within the participatory design field,” says Per-Anders Hillgren, researcher in interaction design and member of the Malmö Living Labs group.
Malmö Living Labs started at Malmö University’s School of Arts and Communication (K3) in 2007. The purpose was to establish a long-term research program that addressed issues of sustainable urban development, social innovation, and design. The aim was also to democratize innovation and to create new methods to tackle societal challenges.
“We have been exploring different forms of collaboration across sectors by working with companies, the municipality, small and marginalized grassroots organizations, and—above all—with citizens,” says Per-Anders Hillgren.
The researchers have worked within a broad range of projects where the participants have challenged existing hegemonies and power structures. Malmö Living Labs has also been invited to participate in several European research consortia.
“We have created a framework that enables us to gather around important issues, to build prototypes together, and to share ideas and knowledge,” added Per-Anders Hillgren.
When Malmö Living Labs started, it was new to carry out design-driven collaboration with citizens at a grassroots level. Today, many organizations work in this way. There are many “living labs” around, both in Sweden and in Europe. What makes Malmö Living Labs different is that other labs are often tightly controlled and driven by the needs of the industry, says Per-Anders Hillgren.
“It is time to move forward and think about what we can achieve today.”
Now, almost ten years since it started, the researchers are about to reshape their work.
“It is time to move forward and think about what we can achieve today. ‘Design thinking’ has influenced how people talk about societal change, and lab-like initiatives have been established both in Malmö and globally. Now we need to push our perspective as researchers forward,” says Per-Anders Hillgren.
The prize was awarded at the 14th Participatory Design Conference in Aarhus, Denmark. The conference focuses on how to work with design, innovation, and change. The theme this year was “participatory design in an era of participation,” and it attracted more than 200 researchers in computer science, architecture, design, and interaction design from all over the world.
The Artful Integrators’ Award (also known as the Artful Integration Award) recognizes outstanding achievements in the area of participatory design of information and communications technologies. The award emphasizes the importance of collaborative participation in design, and a view of good design as the effective alignment of diverse collections of people, practices, and artifacts.
Previous awardees are:
– The Global Fund for Women for their ongoing grant-making infrastructure development (2004).
– The Health Information Systems Programme (HISP) initiative for promoting participatory design within an on-going international research & development collaboration in health information systems for public health and higher education (2006).
– The ACTION for Health initiative for its commitment to the integration of research with health system design and development, through an extensive and continuous network of research partnerships (2008).
– The Teaching from Country Project designed to support distance education in reverse by Aboriginal Yoljnu knowledge authorities (2010).
– Siida: Playing the past, battling for the future for the participatory design of a multiplayer online game based in Saami/The High North, with the intention to promote justice for indigenous people and their places (2012).
– The GRACE network and RLabs (2014). The GRACE network (Gender Research in Africa into ICTs for Empowerment) has demonstrated its commitment to research-based intervention approaching gender-based injustice with the aim of prevention, attempting to engage root causes rather than only remediation. RLabs (the Reconstructed Living Labs) is a community-based initiative that has dedicated their efforts to reconstruct the lives, livelihoods, and possibilities for flourishing of youth, through their involvement in learning about, and involving others in, the transformative use of ICT.