Scandinavian design methods are popular in Japan

A group of researchers from the ITU Co-design team are experiencing great interest from Japanese universities and companies who want to learn more about the Scandinavian design methods. A new collaboration with the Hakodate Future University is now being signed.

ResearchDigital Design DepartmentdesignseniorsLone MalmborgCollaborations

While the technological innovation from Japan is widely recognized, a study conducted by OECD shows that 35 percent of the adult Japanese population can’t use computers. Hence there is a need to find ways to broaden the use of IT in the Japanese society, especially among the growing number of seniors.

One way to approach this challenge is include the users in the development of new services or products. In the Scandinavian countries this approach is known as participatory design or co-design and these design methods have been quite popular among north European designers since the 70’s.

The technology industry in Japan doesn’t have a tradition for involving the users in the development of novel technologies but during the past years the ITU Co-design team has experienced a growing interest from Japanese research institutions and tech companies.

- They are very, very good at designing technology but they have less experience in how to engage users of technologies in the design processes, says associate professor Lone Malmborg who is heading the Digital Design Department at the IT University of Copenhagen.

The Japanese collaborators count Tokyo University of the Arts, Kyoto University and NTT, the largest telecommunication company in Japan. In late March 2017 a collaboration agreement with Hakodate Future University is being signed in order promote exchange of students between the two institutions.

- The collaborations with Japanese institutions and companies are for mutual benefit. While they are learning about participatory design, these collaborations represent a unique opportunity for us to get insights in the Japanese design culture. The Japanese influence on information technology in general can hardly be overestimated. Hence there is no doubt that we’ll keep extending our relations to Japan in the upcoming years, both when it comes to student activities and research, Lone Malmborg ends.