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The Cave Studio

    Project information

  • What: 

    The Cave Studio is a redesigned meeting room in Sliperiet, an innovation hub. The space is about 4x4 metres and 3-6 participants can enter for an embodied ideation session. The space includes interactive surfaces with various sensors and outputs (light or sound effects) and the Emobied Ideation Toolkit: a set of non-descriptive objects designed for ideation.

    The EIT and the space can connect through magnets, triggering different spatial effects in the room. With these characteristics, participants explore their challenge with the aim of creating a Transformative Scenario: a one minute video that shows possibilities for their challenge.

    The space is part of an online service-system that allows participants prepare and reflect. Online, they can book the space, co-define a challenge online and to receive the Transformative Scenario after their ideation session.

  • Who: Sliperiet, Umeå University; Eindhoven University of Technology.
  • When: 2015  > 2016
  • Where: Sliperiet, Innovation Hub, Umeå, Sweden.


We take phenomenology, embodied cognition and the ecological theory of perception to feed our design directions. We observe that through embodiment, alternative thought processes to the most expectable ones are activated; such thought processes take into account e.g. the complexity of the emotional, social and perceptual relationships among people) which we deem as fundamental, when designing for people themselves.1 2 3

We used an ongoing Research through Design process4 to design and explore spatial, material and interactive qualities of the space.

Each iteration consisted of a redesign of the space and at least one exploration with potential users.


The Research through Design process5 consisted of 4 iterations (6 months).

The participant groups consisted of three to five participants from different backgrounds (teachers, engineers, designers) whom tried out the space for 20 minutes up to an hour and a half, including a reflection interview.

Each session was filmed and observed through a livestream. After 4 iterations, we developed the Cave Studio’s first high fidelity.

Insights & Conclusions:

We found that technological mediation for embodied ideation requires a sensitising and reflection phase, so that the experience can become meaningful in relation to daily (work-)life, rather than being a moment of creative outburst. Therefore we designed an online service-system around the physical space.

We also found that the ideation became more embodied as soon as the space reacted to small objects: participants needed a stage (space) and actors (themselves & objects) for their scenario-building.

Another finding was that because of the alien look & feel of the space, participants felt more free to try things out, and let go of some hesitations: “the space was weird.”


1. Clark, A. (1997). Being there: Putting brain, body and world together again. Cambridge, MA:MIT Press

2. Goodwin (2000). Action and embodiment within situated human interaction. Journal of pragmatics, 32, 1489-1522.

3. Trotto, A., Hummels, C.C.M. (2013). Designing in Skills Nurturing Personal Engagement in Design.

4. Pictorials DIS 2016: Fuse, Brisbane, Australia Proceedings of IASDR 2013, August 26-30 2013, Tokyo, Japan.

5. Smit, D., Oogjes, D., Goveia de Rocha, B., Trotto, A., Hur, Y., & Hummels, C. (2015). Ideating in Skills: Developing Tools for for  Embodied  Co-Design.

6. Zimmerman, J., Forlizzi, J. and Evenson, S. (2007). Research through design as a method for interaction design research in HCI. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems. ACM. Embodied Co-Design.

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