Design Memoirs

As designers, what do with the struggles or difficulties that design cannot solve? How might our design processes themselves orient us towards solutions in spaces where we might need other forms of witnessing or attending? In a project called “Making Design Memoirs” we explored these questions through and within experiences of parenting. What we suggest in the work is that Making Design Memoirs might be a way to readapt design as a mode of storytelling, specifically a way to tell personal stories about how something feels, felt or may be felt differently in the future. The concept emerged from a very personal collaboration between Laura Devendorf, Kristina Anderson, and Aisling Kelliher. Specifically, we started the project as an attempt to understand the limits of design–what does it mean to design if it’s not about making something “better” or “easier.” Specifically, we thought back on our experiences as mothers and tried to develop methods to investigate that experience through design. In this way, we try to make “memoirs” with objects that tell of our felt experiences and that bring out practices of witnessing and honoring instead of resolving.


Making Design Memoirs: Understanding and Honoring Difficult Experiences
Laura Devendorf, Kristina Andersen, Aisling Kelliher
CHI – April 2020
Best Paper Honorable Mention

The Fundamental Uncertainties of Mothering: Finding Ways to Honor Endurance, Struggle, and Contradiction
Laura Devendorf, Kristina Andersen, Aisling Kelliher
ToCHI Special Issue on Designing for Women’s Health