Interaction Design WikiTheorie 5

Sweet Dreams Are Made of This


Fall 2018


Dr Joëlle Bitton, 

Dr Björn Franke, 

Verena Ziegler, 

Office hours by appointment 

Class sessions include a lecture/discussion each Monday from 15.00-17.00 in 4.T31.


"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.


12 sessions structured around 4 sections: 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 20%

Final Assignment 40%

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):

Statement of Intent for the BA thesis.

Related Work Visual Map with annotations



Readings are made available in the shared IAD server:


Session 01 – 24.09.2018 – What is the Action? (Joëlle Bitton)  

This session is structured in two parts.

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 – 01.10.2018 – In Formation (Joëlle Bitton)

Through a look at the prefix "inter" that poses the condition for "interaction", we address current notions of intersectionality and queer.
We first 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.

Session 03 – 08.10.2018 – Positioning I: Critique (Björn Franke)

Please read and prepare the following material for this session's discussion:

Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag, 2001), excerpt.

John Thackara, In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006), excerpt.

The Entire History of You, Black Mirror, Season 1, Episode 3, directed by Brian Welsh, 2011.

Session 04 – 15.10.2018 – Positioning II: Manifestos (Björn Franke)

Please read and prepare the following material for this session's discussion:

Michael Schindhelm, Solution 262: Lavapolis (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014), excerpt.

The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2009), excerpt.

The Invisible Committee, To Our Friends (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2015), excerpt.

The Invisible Committee, Now (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2017), excerpt.

Session 05 – 22.10.2018 – Introduction to paradigm, methodology and methods (Verena Ziegler)

Your position and what you intend to research will influence the selection of the research framework or paradigm. In this block, we will discuss the relationship between paradigm – methodoloy – method in research, because methodological decisions are influenced by the theoretical lenses employed by the researcher. In the introductory first phase, an overview of the heterogeneous field of design research and different “knowledge landscapes” within the field will be given. You should be enabled to have confidence and position your own research framework, but also to develop a greater relational understanding of different methodological approaches.

Niedderer, K., Roworth-Stokes, S. (2007). The Role and Use of Creative Practice in Research and its Contribution to Knowledge. IASDR International Conference 2007. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Mackenzie, N.,Knipe, S. (2006). Research Dilemmas: Paradigms, methods and methodology. Issues in Education Research, 16 (2), 193 – 205. http://www/

Berkel, B. van, Caroline B. (1999). Move: Techniques, Amsterdam: UN Studio & Goose Press.

Session 06 – 29.10.2018 – Workshop I: From Research Topic to Research Angle to Research Question (Verena Ziegler)

First of all, we will define a topic together in the class. In this workshop we will form groups and use a concept map to make a list of key terms associated with your research topic, these can be key concepts, contextual and process-oriented terms. From there we will move on from research topic to developing a research angle. In an iterative process, we will use insights from personal experience
, of related work, background research
, observations
, contemporary issues
, engagement with the literature, dialogue, … to clarify the focus of your research. From developing a research angle, we will move on to develop several research questions in an iterative process of question formation and will discuss the importance and role of prototyping - so to speak learning by doing - as an iterative process at all stages of your research. Your question (s) will change and be refined as you project develops, which is all part of the process, but will help you to clarify your research direction.

Poggenpohl, S.H. (2000) Constructing knowledge of design, part 2: Questions – an approach to design research. Proceedings of the Conference Doctoral Education in Design: Foundations for the Future. Staffordshire University Press. Stoke-on-Trent. 2000. pp143 – 151.

Assignment after Session 6:

Analysis of two research methods

For this assignment you are asked to identify two research methods that you think will be relevant to you. Write a short essay describing what these methods are generally used for, their intended purpose and the various stages or processes they entail. You may want to identify the range of methods you initially considered and briefly discuss why you selected the two particular methods you are analyzing for the assignment. Where relevant compare these two methods in terms of their purposes and approach. Please identify why and how you think these methods could be useful in the future of following your BA thesis.

This assignment is to be presented as a short essay (max 2pages, approx. 800-1000 words statement). It may include diagrams and examples. Make sure you include a reference list of all texts you refer to at the end of the essay. Please use APA or other citation system.

The assignment will be assessed in terms of the quality of the information gathered and presented; the level of understanding of methodological application demonstrated in the essay, the relevance of approach to your project and the standard and clarity of communication. Please get someone to proof read your assignment if you are not confident with writing.

The focus of this assignment is on specific methods but you can discuss these methods in relation to their broader methodological frameworks if you think this is relevant. Please be mindful that there is a wide range of approaches available to you and that you might consider more formal research methods (like interviews or surveys) and/or design led methods like material probes, prototyping etc, - participatory methods, ideation methods, or more informal approaches. Please send your assignment by 19.11.2018 via email to

Session 07 – 05.11.2018 – Workshop II: From Reality to Fiction … (Verena Ziegler)

The second part of the workshop takes your research topic from reality to fiction. When we have gone through this process, you will have gained a big collection of ideas and examples. Analyse and redevelop them until satisfied with the result and compare it to your initial research questions. The findings should be set out in writing and will then inform next stages of the research process. 

Adaption: Does your research direction and questions have references to other topics, what can be emulated, or does it point to other alternatives? What could be modified? What could be reconfigured?

Zimmermann J., Forlizzi J., (2014) Research Through Design in HCI, J.S. Olson and W.A. Kellogg (eds.), Ways of Knowing in HCI, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-0378-8_8, © Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014,

20.11 - 23.11.2018 Reading Week


Please choose 3 references from the list Literature Interaction Design and read them during the reading week.

Additionally: Design Theory Readings (we encourage you to read those references during the whole theory seminar ;) ) :

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

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

Gaver, W.: Making spaces: How design workbooks workConference: Proceedings of the International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2011, Vancouver, BC, Canada, (May 7-12, 2011)

Eco, U., Farina, C., Farina, G., & Erspamer, F. (2015). NOTES. In How to Write a Thesis (pp. 225-230). MIT Press. Retrieved from

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 8 – 12.11.2018 – Workshop III – … to Fiction (Verena Ziegler)

Fiction: Dream it bigger and create an ongoing dialog between what is and what might be. How could things be expanded? Which aspects could be extended? How could you add something? Should you recapitulate anything? Make it smaller: What could you leave out? Which aspects could be reduced? We will 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.

Koskinen, I., Zimmerman, J., Binder, T., Redstrom, J., & Wensveen, S. (2011). Design Research through Practice: From the Lab, Field, and Showroom. Boston: Morgan Kaufmann.

Session 9 – 19.11.2018 – Workshop IV – ... to Transformation (Verena Ziegler)

Transformation: How could you change cause and effect? Could you reverse anything? Could you combine some ideas - prototype and iterate them with different methods? Could you mix them up with other contents? Is it possible to combine or split up different components of the service or product you want to create? 

Workshop I-IIII Group-Presentations of various approaches in the class

Jonas, W., Zerwas, S., von Anshelm, K., (2015) Transformation Design - Perspectives on a New Design Attitude, Birkhäuser, 978-3-0356-0636-2 November 2015.

Session 10 – 26.11.2018 – Reflections and Learnings from the Workshops (Verena Ziegler)

Presentation of assignments and in the class + reflections and learnings on the seminar.

Session 11 – 03.12.2018 – Ownership I: Involvement (Björn Franke)

Please read and prepare the following material for this session's discussion:

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life (New York: Random House, 2018), excerpt.

David Graeber, Direct Action: An Ethnography (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2009), chap 5.

The Yes Men Fix The World, P2P Edition, directed by Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno and Kurt Engfehr, 2009.

Session 12 – 10.12.2018 – Ownership II: Dedication (Björn Franke)

Please read and prepare the following material for this session's discussion:

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Thomas Demand, The Conversation Series, vol. 10 (Köln: Walter König, 2007), excerpt.

Paul Cronin, Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: Faber & Faber, 2014), excerpt.

Additionally, look up some of the work of Thomas Demand and Werner Herzog.

Final Assignment: deadline 12.12.18