Collaborative Design

Collaborative Design research focuses on the social aspects of designing and examines the ways that people become involved in design interventions in everyday life and through collaboration in design, when working in design teams at a distance, and in design education at a distance. Our research advances understanding of diverse modes of engagement in design to encourage active participation, social inclusion and citizen innovation, through a broad range of topics, including: 

-  community-led design

-  design activism, citizen innovation and intervention

-  designing for inclusion

-  digital scholarship in design

This diverse body of collaboration design research is motiviated by designing for future ways of living, working and learning.


Contact Katerina Alexiou for general enquiries


Community-led Design

Research in community-led design builds the design capacity of communities and advances understanding of practices in participatory design, connectivity, learning and co-creation. The Valuing Community-led Design project funded by AHRC collates, articulates and disseminates evidence about the value of community-led design, in collaboration with The Glass-House. The Community Design Exchange EPSRC project furthers understanding of creative citizenship activities, enabling communities to connect and support each other in multiple media formats.

Design Activism, Citizen Innovation and Intervention

Design activism, citizen innovation and interventions explore movements in the co-design of tangibles and intangibles, in maker culture, in cross-cultural design collaboration and interaction design.

In collaboration with the Computing Department, the Royal Society cross-cultural research on design education project connects, compares and contrasts collaborative interaction design activities in Botswana with the UK.

Designing for Inclusion

Designing for inclusion draws attention to the ways inclusive design is manifest in practice, to raise awareness of the embodied and multi-sensory experience of peoples' diverse human capabilities in their interactions with everyday situations.

Research in this area includes the Designing inclusive environments: shaping transitions from theory into practice ESRC seminar series and the Universalism, universal design and equitable access to the designed environment ERC projects with Goldsmiths University.

Digital Scholarship in Design

Digital scholarship in design has advanced the methods, tools and practices for remote collaborative working and learning in design environments.

The Design Group at the Open University is a pioneer in design education at a distance. Our Open Supported Distance Learning model has always taken an innovative approach to develop advanced mechanisms for remote collaboration in design learning in virtual teams and immersive studio environments. This expertise and insight is increasingly sought in a MOOC landscape. We see teaching and learning in design as a form of design research in itself. Learning to design necessarily means learning about design and this applies equally to teachers of design. As such, our digital scholarship research is closely linked to innovative approaches to assessment in design education and continues to develop in response to students' needs. Research projects in this area includes ARCHIATELIER-D JISC and EU funded, which reframed how virtual teams collaborate in an immersive studio environments. Radical departures in collaborative modes of on-line graduate education and assessment at scale have been pioneered through the EU project ETOILE (Enhanced Technology for Open Intelligent Learning Environments). 

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