Characters, fun and Games: creating common ground between students and children as co-design partners

Catherine Grundy, Lyn Pemberton, Richard Morris

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


Design methods that include the end user of a product in the design process can be useful for undergraduate Product Design projects. These approaches allow a novice designer to gain the perspective of others and to work with them first hand on a problem. When designing for children, this can add valuable insight for design decisions and also provide inspiration around the young person’s world. However there can be difficulties with time constraints and also the ethics of including children in projects that may be stressful. Here we explore a particular approach to Co-design, with students working alongside children to understand more about their emotional needs and aspirations during the creation of character designs for product design applications. The children were asked to create fictitious cartoon characters that have desired attributes, personal qualities and behaviors that relate to a given scenario. Subsequently this influenced the conceptualization of a product under development for the scenario. The devices being conceptualized were for final major projects and included: a) a blood glucose monitor for young diabetics b) a product to encourage children to eat healthily and grow their own c) a toy to encourage outdoor play. Character design was found to be an enjoyable activity for all, with a tangible outcome that facilitated communication between the student and pupil. It also provides a relatively sensitive method for getting information about the youngster’s feelings and aspirations within the context defined.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational conference on engineering and product design education
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherThe Design Society; Institution of Engineering Designers
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9781904670360
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2012
EventInternational conference on engineering and product design education - Artesis University College, Antwerp, Belgium, 6-7th September 2012
Duration: 6 Sept 2012 → …


ConferenceInternational conference on engineering and product design education
Period6/09/12 → …

Bibliographical note

© 2012 Institution of Engineering Designers, The Design Society


  • Co-Design
  • Design for Children
  • Character Design
  • Empathic Design


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