Walking With Care

“In pursuit of richer and more detailed insights we must not override an attention to care and respect for participants.”

How we meet people and what we do together in design research matters. We know that our roles and positionality create power dynamics that (often unknowingly) replicate structures of oppression. Seeking to decolonise and de-centre our practice in situations of complexity and uncertainty starts with how we meet people and how relationships are built.

This project explores how the traditional interview – a cornerstone of all forms of participation – might be expanded to support more relational engagement as well as what new challenges this might bring and how an ethical, safe practice can be evolved. What has emerged is a mobile ‘walking’ interview method inspired by psychogeography techniques that can be used within design research in order to support a more equitable, meaningful and relational practice.

My design process has been wide-ranging and has allowed me to connect my background in social work and therapeutic approaches, my personal interests in identity / belonging and my developing design and creative practice.

Key to my process has been the desk research, expert interviewing and action research phases of my project. These have helped to shape and change the course of my thinking and have allowed for reflexivity; leading to a series of reflections on the ‘messiness’ of design research and ethical practice in response to the mixed feelings created when sensitive information is shared and the ambiguity created when a traditional interview format is made less formal.

Outcomes from my reflections for design researchers include considerations regarding professional boundaries, the importance of critical reflexivity and potential opportunities for data collection, ownership and joint knowledge creation.


Walking as a collaborative and equitable act

Relationality, ethics and holding space

Psychogeography-inspired question cards for walkers

Benefits and limitations of the proposed method