Build together! Observational study on outdoor activities engaging children in design

Bang Lee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Ethnography has been employed with marginalised user groups, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and children, with their needs and special considerations being acknowledged in design. Until recently, design ethnography has been broadly applied in some domains of design, particularly Human-Computer Interaction research, but far less in others. With little ethnographic research being used in design, the study tackles this deficiency through a designer applying ethnography to study children in conjunction with a design project. A short-term observational study was conducted on children’s outdoor activity in Finland during the summer 2012. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of design ethnography in understanding children’s innate sense of play and culture in naturalistic settings. Through this research, sufficient evidence arises enabling the investigation of certain phenomena: 1) meanings of children’s play, 2) children’s interests and dislikes, 3) different roles of children and adults, 4) respective activities initiated by children and adults, and 5) a distinctive notion among children concerning the relationship between result and process. The novelty of this study is that a designer applied ethnography to sophisticated understanding of children to initiate the design. This research provides opportunities to allow adults to access the children’s world, to draw more attention to children’s voices and rights, as well as to engage their participation and collaboration in the design process. The observations indicate that children’s collaborative work potentially reveals their views and needs in their social lives and capabilities. Furthermore, this study contributes to providing considerable practical guidance for adults working with children.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOpen Design for E-very-thing
PublisherCumulus Association, Aalto University
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-60-0078-7
ISBN (Print)978-952-60-0077-0
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventCumulus Conference: Open Design for E-very-thing - Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Duration: 21 Nov 201624 Nov 2016


ConferenceCumulus Conference
CountryHong Kong
CityHong Kong
Internet address

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