Text: Jens Persson /
Illustrations: Christina Bauer, Prithvi
Ranjan & Oliver Weglinski
In a course entitled 'General Product', students at the Master's
Programme in Interaction Design were tasked with rethinking how to
approach a design brief in the era of Covid-19. By necessity, all
work became remote - from lectures to meetings - as university
facilities began to lock down.
"Working solely in a digital environment was surprisingly easy,
actually. Of course, it's not the same experience as getting out on
the field, talking to people directly. But this is how things are
now and the way we conduct workshops will probably change forever.
In the end, we are designers and we work with what we have and try
to make the best out of it.", says Katharina Brunner.
From the outset, Katharina Brunner and Inna Zrajaeva had to run
co-creative workshops distanced from their co-creators. The actual
challenge of preparing these workshops remotely ended up informing
the very path of their final project. The pair's end result, the
'Remote Workshop Guide', attempts to solve the challenge of
creating together in the digital space.
Recipes for designers who love to co-create
"We explored different co-creational methods, from interview
techniques to ideation activities. Due to covid-19, this whole
process had to happen remotely and we had to figure out how to
build a creative environment online, for non-designers and for
people who are not used to hour-long zoom sessions. At the end, we
felt like we wanted to share our learnings with our community as it
was clear to us that others will likely find themselves in the same
situation", says Inna Zrajaeva.
The 'Remote Workshop Guide' is a cookbook for remote workshops,
offering a host of recipes for designers who want to co-create in
the digital space. Katharina and Inna documented and refined
different activities, varying from adapted versions of existing
methods to newly invented ones. The recipes can be found in the
catalogue, and users are then able to put together their own menu.
The final guide invites new perspectives on: what remote workshops
can look like, how to prepare for remote sessions as well as a
"We collected the most important learnings in the guide. Among
them, we found that having smaller groups of participants was more
beneficial. Also, everything takes more time online, about three
times longer than expected, and it is super important to test your
methods before having the workshop with your user group. And of
course, you need to consider who it is you are working with - how
tech savvy are they?", says Katharina Brunner.
A universal how-to handbook in workshopping
The 'Remote Workshop Guide' is not just a tool for advanced
industrial designers. Really, it's a comprehensive how-to handbook
for everyone and anyone who sets up workshops in their line of
work. Users are free to pick and choose from the menu in order to
update their own workshop routines along their specific needs.
"The guide is really aimed at everyone who is interested in
working creatively, and with others, and who are excited about
holding workshops. We already got some positive feedback from other
students at UID as well as from former colleagues. Ideally, we
would love to keep hearing from people on how they are dealing with
these situations in order to evolve the guide further", says Inna