Interaction Design WikiTheorie 5

Sweet Dreams Are Made of This 2020


Fall 2020

Dr Joëlle Bitton, 

Teaching Assistant:
Jyoti Kapur 

Office hours by appointment 

Class sessions take place each Monday from 15.00-17.00. See calendar for details.


"Sweet Dreams are Made of This" proposes to dive into the very essence of interaction design agency, ahead of the thesis semester. How does a design project emerges from a particular interest? Should it have an impact? And at what scale? Through a variety of references, we'll address notions of dreams, contribution, position and ownership, especially as they relate to contemporary societal questions. We usually consider that a novel contribution to knowledge has to be read about, dreamed about in a visionary sense, used and related to, through hands on testing, iterations and prototyping at various stages, explored orally and visually, and discussed by peers and tutors. The course is structured around materials discussions showcasing social engagement, activism and aesthetic movements, various assignments such as fictional dream-like scenarios and practical workshop formats.

This course is also a guided exercise in your autonomy to look for relevant references and to integrate them as part of your research endeavour. You should start early with topics of interest for your diploma work, even it is expected that they might evolve or even change completely. In that sense, even if your topic changes, the questions & methods that will be addressed in this class will be valid throughout your diploma work. Different than previous theory classes, with mostly discussions based on readings, this class is a continuous assignment-based exploration of your research engagement. It is required that you follow through and ride the wave.


12 sessions structured around the notions of engagement, positioning, research and ownership.


Grades will be based on the oral and written presentations and on class participation. Contributing to constructive group feedback is an essential aspect of class participation. Regular attendance is required. Two or more unexcused absences will affect the final grade. Arriving late on more than one occasion will also affect the grade.

Class participation 20% 

Journal/Blog 20%

In-class assignments 30%

Final Assignments 30%

Any assignment that remains unfulfilled receives a failing grade. 



A separate 'Journal' is developed by each student that reflects on learnings from the seminar. It should be in the form of an online blog (ie. WordPress, Tumblr or other):

Blog links:

Anderhub, Sophie

Büchner, Damaris

Bui, Duy

Bütler, Andreas

Engler, Roman

Frey, Fabian

Fürer, Andreas

Hirsbrunner, Edna

Jeker, Pascal

Kirk, Andy

Liu, Yao

Lopez, Lilian

Möri, Ismael

Nielsen, Sonjoi

Nugroho, Shafira Maharani Nabila

Schmid, Colin

Schmid, Michelle

Schmidinger, Paméla

Sharlhey, Yangzom

Tanner, Janina

Tomas, Danuka Ana

Trabucco, Tamara

Urand, Zoe

Weber, Mara

In-class assignments - deliver on the server

Final assignments - deliver on the server

Statement of Intent for the BA thesis.

Related Work Visualisation with annotations


Readings are made available in the shared IAD server


Session 01 – 21.09.2020 – What is the Action? - 5.K01

This session is structured in three parts.

A quick look at the syllabus & assignments.

An initial discussion with students based on reflections from the last two years of studies and how they consider what a contribution is, as they head towards their thesis semester.

A second discussion based on watching excepts from two movies recalling the legacy of Act Up :

Assignment for the following week: print out a poster of a campaign that contributed to inspire, to bring awareness and to awake individuals and collectivity towards action. Put it on wall and plan to present the core of the contribution for two minutes. Look particularly into student activism throughout history, in various countries.

Session 02 – 28.09.2020 – In Formation - 4.T06

First a brief look at the assignments, then through a look at the prefix "inter" that poses the condition for "interaction", we address current notions of intersectionality and queer.
We will travel through a series of cultural and political protests in order to frame a discussion on the possible roles and failings of the design discipline in light of social engagement.

Materials presented on Anti-Apartheid activism in South Africa, Aaron Swartz, drag culture, representation in pop culture.

Assignment for the following week: Find a manifesto or position in art, craft, technology or science that dates before 1910 and explain what makes it relevant for our time.

Session 03 – 05.10.2020 – Positioning in writing - 5.K01

We'll first look at the material you found, then spend the rest of the session writing about your own positioning.

Assignment for the free flow seminar: Go to the library - either ZHdK or a library of your choice. Browse the aisles -except the design section - without looking for something in particular. Open books that attract you from title, cover, look... Pick 3 books that inspire you and help you think about your thesis project. Bring those 3 books with you to the retreat and present them.
Additionally, bring one object or artefact that also inspire you for your future thesis work.

Session 04-07 – 08-09.10.2020 – Free Flow Retreat - see location in program

Detailed program is indicated in the Free Flow program. This is 2-day deep dive into your research interests and ways to let them flow, in conversation with mentors.

Assignment for 09.11.2020: we meet again in one month. During that time, you'll make a detailed literature review of 8 essays (no web articles or blog posts) that help you advance your research and unpack your topic. By the end of that month, you'll narrow your topic from big overview to 2-3 possible angles - make one paragraph introduction in that sense to your literature review. Additionally, find 8 related projects, define the criteria from them that matter and make a visualisation where you situate your own interest. This should keep being developed until the final assignment which is an extension and update of this work. Share on the server.

Session 08 – 09.11.2020 – Making Sense - 5.K01

In your studios and theory classes, you have encountered many research methods. In a group discussion, you'll come up with the many different ones and discuss how they have been relevant. Each group will present in class.

In a second individual exercise, you should come up with examples of research questions that are derived directly from the works you created in past classes.  


Be familiar with some research terminology:
- Mackenzie, N.,Knipe, S. 2006. "Research Dilemmas: Paradigms, methods and methodology". Issues in Education Research, 16 (2), 193 – 205.

In brief, qualitative research:
- 'An Introduction to Qualitative Research' prepared by Christina Hughes, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick. 

Look at examples of research & design in HCI:
- Zimmermann J., Forlizzi J. 2014. "Research Through Design in HCI" in J.S. Olson and W.A. Kellogg (eds.), Ways of Knowing in HCI, Springer Science+Business Media, New York.

Learning by doing:
- Tin, Mikkel B. 2013. "Manifesto: Making and the Sense it makes". In Studies in Material Thinking. Vol.9 Inside Making. 

Assignment for the following week: do an observation of a situation that you want to tackle, and if applicable meet and interview the people involved. Present the results in a short essay with visuals (max. 1-2 pages). Publish in your blog and share on the server.

Session 09 – 16.11.20 – Joyful Research 5.K01

So far in this process, you should have gained a large collection of ideas and examples. How do you relate to them? 
How will you investigate your research questions?

This class' readings are 3 examples of conducting, structuring and presenting research. Find 2 more examples.

We'll also review together the diploma thesis structure and look at some tools for research.


Gaver, W., Dunne A, Pacenti E. 1999.  "The Presence Project", in RCA, Journal Interactions, Volume 6, Issue 1, Jan./Feb. 1999.

Jarvis, N., Cameron, D., Boucher, A. 2012. Attention To Detail: Annotations of a design process. pp. 11-20. 

Gaver, W. 2011. "Making spaces: How design workbooks work" in Proceedings of CHI 2011, Vancouver.

Assignment for the following week: dream. 

Session 10 – 23.11.2020 – How Far? 5.K01

Dream it bigger and create an ongoing dialog between what is and what might be. Which aspects could be extended? How could you add something? Make it smaller: What could you leave out? Which aspects could be reduced? How far can you go? What is your ambition? What should you be aware of in terms of responsibility? Do you want the largest audience? Do you want media coverage? Who is your audience?

During class, share your ultimate dream. 

We'll also review the final assignment guidelines.

Video and readings:

Being creative with the creative process: watch the Importance of Self-Delusion.

John Thackara. 2006. In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World. MIT Press. Excerpt.

Lilly Irany. 2015. 'Justice for Data Janitors' in

Session 11 – 30.11.2020 – Own It 5.K01

Going back to the theme of responsibility, we've discussed in past classes the various roles of a designer and entanglements with modes of production and consumption.
Look for instance at the commodity of cotton and its commerce, can your dream be transformed into a nightmare?

In a parallel note, a thesis work has to stand the grounds of an academic endeavour while bringing a unique contribution. 
What is truly unique about your contribution?

Exercise-in-class: list where your thesis work is not changing anything.
Exercise-in-class: looking at former IAD students' BA thesis

Readings (Browse through):

Eco, U. 2015. How to Write a Thesis. MIT Press. 1st ed. 1977. 

Koskinen, I., Zimmerman, J., Binder, T., Redström, J., & Wensveen, S. 2011. Design research through practice: From lab, field, and showroom. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Session 12 – 07.12.2020 – Re-Positioning - 5.K01

In a loop back to where we started, we'll end this class with a look at impact and contribution, particularly in relation to current societal matters.

How will your topic has shaped itself in the past few months? See where you started and where you're going.

In that political realm of positioning, we'll have a look at the "Center for Political Beauty", and how this center develops innovative forms of political activism to provoke, rise awareness and to preserve humanitarianism.

Final Assignment: deadline 10.12.20 - NO extension!