Relational design


Admission requirements

Prerequisite courses for this course are: KD640A-Introduction to multidisciplinary interaction design and KD641A-Embodied interaction.


Syllabus for students spring 2021, spring 2020

Course Code:
KD642B revision 1
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
No main fields
Date of ratification:
25 September 2019
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
20 January 2020

Entry requirements

Prerequisite courses for this course are: KD640A-Introduction to multidisciplinary interaction design and KD641A-Embodied interaction.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course can normally be included as part of a general degree at advanced level.


The Relational Design course contributes to the field of Interaction Design by applying theories and methods to establish collaborative relationships between designers, citizens, experts and other professionals. Informed by the Scandinavian participatory design tradition, this course introduces students to collaborative methods for working with stakeholders, with a particular emphasis on the relations. Questions of ethics, power relations, and shared responsibility for design processes and outcomes will be emphasized. The scholarly skills of academic writing and reflection will be evaluated based on individually submitted papers. This course lays the groundwork for the Design and Social Innovation course in the second year of the IDM programme. By incorporating the body of knowledge from computer supported cooperative work (CSCW), Relational Design challenges students to judge which qualities in contemporary and future digital media platforms can be used to create and build relations.


The course provides an overview of participatory design and co-design methods that can be used as tools for bringing people together and creating democratic processes that facilitate change. Through hands-on experimentation, students will develop sensitivity towards when and how technological infrastructures can facilitate connectivity, balanced with face-to-face events that encourage, establish and solidify human connections. At the level of methodology, the course focuses on intervention- and community-oriented co-design methods. Various specific techniques will be introduced to implement the co-design methods. These may include: envisioning, mashups, social interventions, community-based participation and co-determination, and perpetual-beta development approaches for the development of digital platforms for collaboration.

Learning outcomes

Repertoire and theory
1. Demonstrate a repertoire of important interaction design methods and theories that can contribute to the framing of Relation Design within the wider field of Interaction Design.
2. Display an understanding of contexts that invite participatory engagement and infrastructures that support participation.
Skills and techniques
3. Demonstrate the ability to integrate and justify the use of interaction design techniques suitable for relational design and apply them to specific contexts.
4. Show evidence of appropriate planning, coordination and execution of design processes within a collaborative context required in the craft of academic knowledge construction, including the writing of concise academic texts.
5. Demonstrate the ability to write concise academic texts that communicate relevant design processes, concepts and theories.
Reflection and criticism
6. Demonstrate the ability to analyze and criticize strategies, processes and tools that support participation, relations and collaborative action.
7. Demonstrate some ability to reflect on academic research methodology and epistemology within wider cultural and societal contexts.

Learning activities

Work in multidisciplinary teams on relevant societal and environmental issues that require collective engagement, decision making and action. Writing individual academic short papers on the work. Critical review of academic publications and of fellow students’ papers, with special emphasis on research methodology and epistemology.


Learning outcomes concerned with designing and critiquing relational designs (2, 3 and 6) are assessed in oral group examinations (studio critique sessions) (8 HP). The learning outcomes that have to do with academic discourse (1, 4, 5 and 7) are assessed in an individual writing assignment, individual critical reviews and group review seminars (7 HP).

Grading system

Fail (U) or Pass (G).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Beyond the books listed below, literature will consist of excerpts from books and academic articles about subjects relevant to this course. Excerpts will be shared as digital documents on the course site and via e-books at the university library. Topic specific literature will be selected in consultation with the lecturer/supervisor.
  • Binder, T., Michelis, G. D., Ehn, P., Jacucci, G., Linde, P., Wagner, I. (2011) Design things. The MIT Press.
  • Cottam, H. (2018) Radical Help – how we can remake the relationships between us and revolutionise the welfare state. Virago.
  • Halse, J., Brandt, E. Clark, B. and Binder, T. (2010) Rehearsing the future. Danish Design School Press.
  • Sanders, E. B. N., Stappers, P. J. (2012). Convivial design toolbox: Generative research for the front end of design. BIS.
  • Simonsen, J. and Robertson, T. (2013) Routledge International Handbook of Participatory Design. Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group.


The education is provided by the Faculty of Culture and Society at the School of Arts and Communication.

Further information


18 January 2021 - 28 March 2021 Day-time 100% Malmö This course is offered as part of a program