Empathic negotiations through material culture: co-designing and making digital exhibits

L. Reitsma, A. Light, P.A. Rodgers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article introduces a case study undertaken in the indigenous Penan community of Long Lamai, Upper Baram, Sarawak, Malaysia. In this community, there is concern about the negative image other cultural groups hold of the Penan. This case study explores co-design as a means to invite community members, together with a designer, to explore the identity that they would like to present to people outside the community. In preparing for an exhibition to challenge perceptions, it turned out to be important to embrace the culture of the community to facilitate self-expression, introducing new concepts such as technological interventions and design probes to stimulate reflection and creativity. However, it was indigenous material culture, when actively and encouragingly supported by the designer, that had a key role in developing the co-design and, with it, empathic understanding between designer and community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-274
Number of pages6
JournalDigital Creativity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2014


  • digital exhibits
  • design
  • case study
  • Sarawak, Malaysia
  • co-design


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