Sweden, Malmo, Malmö University DESIS Labs

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Starts: 22 March, 2016
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Instructors: Sweden, Malmo, Malmö University DESIS Labs
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Malmö University DESIS Lab, Sweden

Coordinator: Anna Seravalli  / anna.seravalli@mah.se

Operational managers:
Anna Seravalli / anna.seravalli@mah.se
Per-Anders Hillgren / per-anders.hillgren@mah.se

Desis Lab presentation:  http://mah.se/desislab
News from the Desis Lab:  https://blogg.mah.se/k3/tag/desis/

Hosting institution:
Malmö University K3, The school of Arts and Communication & MEDEA,
Västra Varvsgatan 11, 205 06 Malmö,
http://www.mah.se/k3 and  http://www.medea.mah.se

Background and objectives
The Malmö University DESIS Lab is based at The School of Arts and Communication (K3) and builds on the work carried out within Malmö Living Labs that since 2007 have been working with participatory design approaches and social innovation in the city of Malmö. The work of the Malmö Living Labs span from participatory planning, to local-based production, from how communication technologies may enable urban space appropriation, to the role of the third and public sector in supporting social innovation. Such explorations have been carried out through a design practice-based approach which entails long-term engagements with different actors in the city ( such as civil servants, NGOs, companies and citizens) for the co-design and co-production of new practices, services and products. The aim is that of re-working notions and constraints about innovation, value production and democracy by engaging with practical experiences in local settings.

The work of the Malmö Living Labs has led to the development of a number of collaborations with other researchers within K3 but also Urban Studies (US), who are interested in following and participating to the DESIS Lab activities and the network initiatives.
Researchers from US has been involved in several projects within the field of social innovation in recent year, especially together with civil society organizations and public administration. The focus has been to investigate questions about collaborative processes and governance, especially from a leadership and organization approach.  Examples include the FP7 project CITISPYCE, which aims at exploring socially innovative practices being developed by and for young people in urban areas, and test the transferability of local models of innovative practice in order to develop new policy approaches.

Primary research areas and activities
The researchers involved in the lab are rooted in the participatory design community and tradition and are working with co-design and co-production processes involving diverse stakeholders in the area of Malmö. Beside this shared ground, researchers have diverse interests that include: new media and interaction design, design for social innovation, service design, science and technology studies, sustainability, governance models, commons studies.
To support project activities continuous match-making processes are facilitated where student courses are connected to research work. Particularly within free-standing courses such as “Design for sustainable development”, “Co-Design” as well as a part wit the module on “Design and social innovation” within the Interaction Design Master Programme.

List of projects and research

  • 2009-2012 Malmö New Media, European Structural Funds. This project has been supporting the establishment of Malmö Living Labs leading to a number of experiences such as: the realising of the first Scandinavian movie under creative commons license on the Pirate Bay, the setting up of the first Swedish makerspace, the co-design of a Social Innovation Incubator for the city of Malmö.
    Website: http://medea.mah.se/category/living-labs/
  • 2012-2014 MIL. Developing indicators and evaluation methods to measure integration.
    The MIL develops indicators and evaluation methods to measure advances, adjust policies, further cooperative and comparative learning and assess system impact.
    Website: http://medea.mah.se/2013/01/project-mil-in-malmo/
  • 2012-2017 Living Archives: Enhancing the role of the public archive by performing memory, open data access, and participatory design is a research project funded by the Swedish Research Council. The project analyzes and prototypes how digital archives for cultural heritage can become social resources, how they can facilitate social change, create cultural awareness and collective collaboration. Website: http://livingarchives.mah.se.
  • 2013-2015 Innovation Platform Malmö South-East. The project is driven by the environmental department of Malmö Municipality and it brings together actors from business sector, academia, public sector and local communities to build a joint innovation capacity in areas of Malmö which are not usually considered innovative. The aim is to mobilize local resources as well as create partnerships between diverse sectors to support socio-economic development.
    Website: http://innovationsplattformmalmo.wordpress.com/

Other ongoing projects within the field of social innovation, that researchers from US are part of:

  • SISI – development of an agenda for an infrastructrure  for social innovation in Sweden (financed by VINNOVA 2013-2014, the project is led by LUSIC: http://www.lusic.se/about/projects/project-strategic-innovation-agenda-for-social-innovation/)
  • Global wellbeing lab 2.0 – the project aims at shifting institutions beyond the pursuit of narrowly measured parameters of success (such as profit or growth for its own sake) to broader aims that translate into sustainable wellbeing for societies and the environment. (hosted by GNH center, Bhutan;  Presencing institute, Boston/US; GIZ Leadership academy, Germany : http://www.giz.de/expertise/downloads/giz2014-en-gwlab-2.0-concept-note.pdf) 2015-2016


  • Erling Björgvisson
  • Anders Emilson
  • Per-Anders Hillgren
  • Per Linde
  • Elisabet M. Nilsson
  • Anna Seravalli

Malmö University DESIS Lab friends:

  • Mette Agger-Eriksson (K3)
  • Fredrik Björk (US)
  • David Cuartielles (K3)
  • Maria Hellström Reimer (K3)
  • Susan Kozel (K3)
  • Peter Parker (US)
  • Staffan Schmidt (K3)
  • Veronica Wiman (guest researcher from Tromsö Accademy of Contemporary Art)


Ehn, Pelle; Topgaard, Richard; & Nilsson, Elisabet M. (Eds.) (2014). “Making Futures: Marginal Notes on Innovation, Design, and Democracy”. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Seravalli, Anna. 2014. “Making Commons: Attempts at Composing Prospects in the Opening of Production.” PhD diss., Malmö University.
Björgvinsson, Erling. 2014. Shadow Play: Children Co-Create the Scenography for Peter and the Wolf and The Carnival of the Animals. Medea, Malmö University.
Hillgren, Per-Anders. 2013. “Participatory design for social and public innovation: Living Labs as spaces for agonistic experiments and friendly hacking”. In Public and collaborative: Exploring the intersection of design, social innovation and public policy, edited by Ezio Manzini and Eduardo Staszowski, 75-88. DESIS Network.
Hillgren, Per-Anders, Per Linde, and Bo Peterson. 2013. Matryoshka dolls and boundary infrastructuring: navigating among innovation policies and practices. PIN-C, The 3rd Participatory Innovation Conference 2013 – Lahti, Finland on 18-20 June 2013.
Fredrik Björk. 2013. Stapelbädden – An innovative meeting place, in The Western Harbour – experiences and lessons learned, Bengt Persson (ed), Stockholm.
Seravalli, Anna. 2013. “Can design go beyond critique? (Trying to compose together in opening production)”. Paper presented at the Nordic Design Research Conference, Copenhagen/Malmö, June 9-12.
Seravalli, Anna. 2013. Prototyping for opening production: from designing for to designing in the making together. Presented at Crafting the Future, 10th European Academy of Design Conference, April 17-19, 2013, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Nilsson, Elisabet M. & Topgaard, Richard (Eds.) (2012). Prototyping Futures : By Medea and co-partners. Malmö: Medea, Malmö University. <http://medea.mah.se/2012/12/publication-prototyping-futures, Accessed on 2014-11-12
Björgvinsson, E; Ehn, P; Hillgren, P-A. (2012). Design Things and Design Thinking: Contemporary Participatory Design Challenges. In Design Issues 2012, 28:3, pp. 101-116. doi: 10.1162/DESI_a_00165
Agger Eriksen, Mette (2012). “Materials matter in co-design” PhD diss., Malmö University.
Seravalli, Anna. (2012). Infrastructuring for opening production, from participatory design to participatory making?. Proceedings of Participatory Design Conference (PDC), Roskilde, Denmark, August 2012.
Björgvinsson, E; Ehn, P & Hillgren, P-A. (2012). Agonistic participatory design: working with marginalised social movements. CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, 8:2-3, 127-144.
Seravalli, A. (2012). Building Fabriken, Design for Socially Shaped Innovation. Presented at Design Research Society International Conference Bangkok, 1-4, July 2012.
Binder, T., Jacucci, G., De Michelis, G., Linde, P., Ehn, P., Wagner, I. (2012). What is the object of design?. In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM annual conference extended abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems Extended Abstracts (CHI EA ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 21-30.
Björgvinsson, Erling; Høg Hansen, Anders. (2011). Mediating Memory: Strategies of interaction in public art and memorials. The Journal of Arts & Communities 3(1).
Hillgren, Per-Anders; Seravalli, Anna & Emilson, Anders. (2011). Prototyping and Infrastructuring in design for social innovation. Co-Design Vol. 7, Nos. 3–4, September–December 2011, 169–183.
Seravalli, Anna. (2011). “Democratizing production: challenges in co-designing enabling platforms for social innovation”, The Tao of Sustainability, International Conference on Sustainable Design Strategies in a Globalization Context, Bejing China 27-29 October 2011.
Binder, Thomas, Giorgio De Michelis, Pelle Ehn, Giulio Jacucci, Per Linde, and Ina Wagner. 2011. “Design Things”. MIT Press. Series: Design Thinking, Design Theory.
Emilson, Anders; Hillgren, Per-Anders; Seravalli, Anna. (2011): “Dealing with Dilemmas: Participatory Approaches in Design for Social Innovation”, Swedish Design Research Journal no 1, 2011:23-29.
Björgvinsson, Erling; Ehn, Pelle; Hillgren, Per-Anders. (2010). Participatory Design and ‘Democratizing Innovation’. Proceedings of Participatory Design Conference (PDC), Sydney, Australia, December 2010.
Fredrik Björk. 2009. Introduction. Local livelihoods and global challenges. Understanding human interaction with the environment (with Per Eliasson and Bo Poulsen) in Transcending boundaries, Fredrik Björk, Per Eliasson & Bo Poulsen (ed), Malmö.
Björgvinsson, E. (2008). Open-ended participatory design as prototypical practice. Co-Design Vol. 4, Nos. 2, pp 85–99.