Paper

Design for empathy in collaborative creativity

30th September 2020

Design for empathy in collaborative creativity

The role of the designer is changing from the ‘top-down’ creative to the humble designer (Slavin, 2016), fostering collaboration with a range of stakeholders and partnering with other disciplines as the ‘integrative discipline’ (Teal and French, 2016). As such, a new consideration of empathy is required to creatively engage people in co-creation using participatory design approaches. This paper discusses empathy within a participatory design approach, sharing methods and reflections of designing ‘with’ and ‘for’ empathy. The paper considers the role of the designer in engendering empathy in collaborative creativity, and illustrates approaches from applied projects in the health and care context. Experience Labs are a participatory design approach providing a space for collaboration where a diverse range of participants (academics, business, civic, end users) can collaborate in a creative process to explore and iterate concepts for health and care. The Lab methods, tools and artefacts are designed to move participants through a series of designed spaces to provide them with the experience, skills and language required to critically reflect and evaluate emerging ideas. Collaborations are carefully curated to bring together the ‘right’ mix of expertise
in relation to the project. The challenge is to ensure that relationships move quickly from ‘them and us’ to a collective ‘we’, as we explore ideas and build trust. The methods and approaches used to foster empathy will be shared, alongside previous literature on empathic design within user-centred approaches, highlighting the need to consider the ways in which we design ‘for’ empathy in participatory design.