Ph.D course: Revisiting the prototype in design research

07dec(dec 7)9:0009(dec 9)16:00Intern kalenderPh.D course: Revisiting the prototype in design researchIn the doctoral course participants are invited to consider the relevance and scope of engaging (both conceptually and practically) with prototypes and prototyping in design research speculatively addressing alternative futures.9:00 - 16:00 (9) Designskolen Kolding, Ågade 10, 6000 KoldingTYPE OF ACTIVITYEkstern kalender,Intern kalender,PhD Course

Event Details

Course responsible and lecturers
Thomas Binder, Professor, PhD
Louise Ravnløkke, Assistant Professor, PhD
Lab for Sustainability and Design, Design School Kolding

Guest lecturers
Dr Amy Twigger Holroyd, Associate Professor of Fashion and Sustainability
School of Art & Design, Nottingham Trent University
Loove Broms, Associate Professor, PhD
Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design


  • December 7-9, 2021
  • All 3 days 9:30 – 15:30

Design School Kolding
Aagade 10
6000 Kolding
Room 2.15

Number of students

Deadline for registration
1 November 2021

Sign up
Please write to Christina Stind Rosendahl

The three days will be a mix of morning lectures and workshops based on the lecturers’ recent research projects, and afternoon sessions with discussions and hands-on workshops in small groups based on the participants own projects. Please notice the course will be held physically at Design School Kolding.

Course description
Prototypes and prototyping have played an important role in shaping design research over the last decades. In the unfolding of the practices of research-through-design, design prototypes have been pivotal in such approaches as constructive design research engaging prototypes in laboratory experiments, field inquiries and showroom encounters.

Prototyping in design research typically indicates the iterative making of design artifacts which successively broadens, deepens, and refines the research inquiry, drawing on the prototyping practices of professional design. The notions of prototype and prototyping signal that what is made, point towards a future type, whatever this is a product, a service, a system, or a future practice, and particularly within codesign and user-centred design, prototyping involves multiple participants.

What is particular about prototypes and prototyping in design research has been discussed extensively in the literature, but most often with respect to how prototypes embody product or system qualities. As design research is moving towards speculatively exploring possible futures and in doing so increasingly invites for open and collaborative research encounters, the prototype becomes more explicitly an outcome of these encounters rather than its starting point. In this move, the questions of what a prototype is prototypical of, how it emerges in the research inquiry and in what way the making of prototypes relates to the crafting of artifacts by the design researcher become important.

In this doctoral course we invite participants to consider the relevance and scope of engaging (both conceptually and practically) with prototypes and prototyping in design research speculatively addressing alternative futures. The basic premise of the course
is that in design research envisioning changes in 
everyday practices, prototypes and prototyping emerge in the research encounter
seeded by design artifacts, but first becoming prototypical through collaborative engagements.

The course will bring an overview of recent literature on the topic from both design research and design anthropology and suggest some tentative definitions to be further explored through a dialogue with three recent design research projects. The course content is built on these exemplars from practice, as well as hands-on activities which act as vehicles for explorations and discussions. Practically, the course comprises of a mix of lectures, discussions on reading, and workshops based on individual and group work.

Participants will also be invited to present and share their own work in relation to the course topic.

The course objective is to provide the participants with a basis to reflect and analyze own work and approach within the PhD study. During
the course, participants will be able to start the reflection through the given activities and discussions within the group of course facilitators and participants.

Presentation of guest lectures

Fashion Fictions: prop, performance, prototype?
Dr Amy Twigger
Holroyd, Nottingham Trent University

Fashion Fictions aims to influence and energise the emergent post-growth fashion movement by bringing people together to generate, experience and reflect on engaging fictional visions of alternative fashion cultures and systems. The project’s participatory process for collective speculation has a three-stage structure. Stage 1 generates written outlines of parallel worlds in which invented historical junctures have led to familiar-yet-strange fashion cultures and systems. At Stage 2, diverse groups of participants add complexity to these fictions, creating visual and material mock-ups to explore and communicate the practices and cultures that they imagine there. At Stage 3, people performatively enact the worlds, adding depth through embodied interaction and reflection.

From one perspective, the objects, images and enactments could be seen as props and performances rather than prototypes: they grow from the original fiction’s creative vision, rather than anticipating a future development. However, the participants in Stages 2 and 3 are encouraged to see the Stage 1 fictions as open-ended starting points, to be adapted or reinvented in accordance with their own interests, priorities and experiences. Thus, the visual, material and embodied explorations should arguably be considered as fragmented prototypes of the worlds that the participants are collaboratively envisioning: tentative manifestations that they, and others, can respond to as part of the iterative co-creation process. Furthermore, given that the project ultimately aims to seed new practices and cultures in our own world, these explorations could be framed as prototypes of real-life possibilities.

My lecture will discuss the Fashion Fictions approach to participatory speculation and prototyping, drawing on early project activities and outcomes. A workshop will provide a hands-on opportunity to explore and reflect on the Fashion Fictions prototyping methodology, via a miniature Stage 2 and Stage 3 challenge. 

Beyond Efficiency: Some Reflections on Making Speculative Prototypes to Challenge Contemporary Sustainability Discourse
Loove Broms
Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design & KTH, Royal Institute of Technology

In this lecture I will go through some examples from my design research practice with special attention to the role of the speculative prototype as a way to de-familiarise and re-politicise taken-for-granted subject positions, practices and relations as well as opening up new spaces of possibilities.

Using exemplary design research where critical dissemination is carried out through examples (of what could be) the making of prototypes becomes a central component and a way to drive a collaborative and explorative research effort. We will look closer at some design research processes carried out over several years in two larger speculative research projects within urban sustainability: ‘Sensing Energy’ and ‘Beyond Efficiency’. I will also go further back discussing some examples from my thesis ‘Storyforming’ making comparisons and reflections around the prototyping process in relation to topics such as: the emergence of prototypes as a collaborative effort; future imaginaries as a critical stance; levels of refinement; and some different roles of the prototype within a research process.

Tentative reading list

Binder, Thomas, The things we do: encountering the possible, book chapter in Smith, R. C., Vangkilde, K. T., Otto, T., Halse,
J., Kjaersgaard, M. G., &
Binder, T. (Eds.).
(2016). Design Anthropological Futures.

Bloomsbury Publishing.

Broms, L. 2021. ‘Beyond Efficiency – Our Design Programme’. In
Wangel, J. and Fauré, E. (Ed.) (2021). Beyond
Efficiency: A speculative design research anthology in which we seek to
deconstruct ecomodern imaginaries of urban sustainability through exploring what more just and

sustainable living
environments could be like.
Bamberg: Spurbuchverlag, ISBN 978-3-88778-611-3

DiSalvo, C. (2020). The
irony of drones for foraging: Exploring the work of speculative interventions.
In Design anthropological futures (pp. 139-152). Routledge.

Hunt, J. (2011). Prototyping the social: temporality and speculative
futures at the intersection of design and culture. In Design Anthropology (pp. 33-44). Springer,

Jiménez, Alberto Corsín (2014) The prototype: more than many and
less than one, Journal of Cultural Economy, 7:4, 381-398

Kannabiran, G., & Bødker, S. (2020, July). Prototypes as Objects
of Desire. In Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference (pp. 1619-1631).

Kimbell, L., & Bailey, J. (2017). Prototyping and the new spirit
of policy-making. CoDesign, 13(3), 214-226.

Koskinen, I., & Frens, J. (2017). Research
Prototypes. Archives of Design Research,
30(3), 5-15.

Lenskjold, T. U., & Olander, S. (2020). Design anthropology as ontological exploration and inter-species
engagement. In Design Anthropological Futures (pp. 249-265).

Lim, Y. K., Stolterman, E., & Tenenberg, J. (2008). The anatomy
of prototypes: Prototypes as filters, prototypes
as manifestations of design ideas. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human
Interaction (TOCHI), 15(2),

Ravnløkke, Louise. Prototyping scales of knitwear design for sustainability. In Conference proceedings.

Nordes Conference, 15.-18 August 2021, Kolding, Denmark.

Twigger Holroyd, A. (2021) Writing alternative fashion worlds:
frustrations, fictions and imaginaries. Responsible Fashion
14-22 October
2021, University of Antwerp/online.

Wensveen, S., & Matthews, B. (2014). Prototypes and prototyping
in design research. In The routledge companion to design research
(pp. 262-276). Routledge.

Westerlund, B., & Wetter-Edman, K. (2017). Dealing
with wicked problems,
in messy contexts, through prototyping. The Design Journal,
20(sup1), S886-S899.

Wilkie, A. (2014). Prototyping as event: designing the future of
obesity. Journal of Cultural Economy, 7(4),


7 (Tuesday) 9:00 - 9 (Thursday) 16:00


Designskolen Kolding

Ågade 10, 6000 Kolding