Exploration Workshop at the City University London

On Friday, 20th April, the first Brief Encounters workshop was hosted by City University in London. One of its aims was to start exploring ways in which technologies can improve interdisciplinary design processes over distance.

Twenty-one academics, commercial researchers and designers were present, five of which participated remotely. The workshop incorporated two sessions. After the introductory lines from the organizers and brief introductions from all participants, the first session aimed to capture details of creative conversations that the participants have been part of within the last four to six weeks.

In order to keep the workshop participants engaged, the University of Lancaster team decided to give this part of the workshop a fun and entertaining element and as a result, produced a series of interesting creative conversation prompts that would generate interesting stories. These prompts were developed into a comic strip theme that would encourage the participants to describe their creative conversations by drawing or writing in blank comic strip cells.  The completed comic strips would feed into discussions in the second phase of the workshop around these four themes; the effect of supporting artifacts, different medias, participant’s backgrounds and the overall success of the conversations. Some results from the “Creative Conversations” session are included at the end of this post in the workshop photo gallery.

Building on the ‘creative conversations’, the second session involved teams of participants identifying challenges that working in distributed environments brings and how these can be tackled by the use of technologies at hand. The introduction to the second session was provided by presentations from academic and industrial participants. Short talks focused on the use of communication technologies in both professional and educational environments, and aimed to boost discussions among the workshop participants on these topics.

The final result of the second session was a set of roadmaps, identifying how and when technologies need to be adapted to aid design processes. Each group of participants briefly presented their ideas to start the discussion, identifying the major challenges that need to be worked on in the next Brief Encounters workshop.


The 2nd workshop is scheduled for the 8th of June and is going to be held at the University of Lancaster. Further analysis of the outputs of the 1st workshop is currently underway.

Photo Gallery:

The Brief Encounters project steering committee met on