Current MSLS Student has been Nominated for a Design Award

This summer, one of our current MSLS students, Sijme Geurts, graduated from his masters course in Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands). During his graduation project he designed an interactive floor installation for facilitation of creative sessions. His work is named Traces and is recently nominated to be exhibited at the upcoming Dutch Design Week in The Netherlands.

Traces was designed for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. This ministry has a sub-department named LEF Future Centre, which is a rather luxurious complex where creative sessions (such as brainstorms) are hosted for internal workgroups. Out of the thirteen available spaces one room specifically stands out: The Theatre. There, a total of fifteen projectors ensure an intense experience of digital media in all directions. In this room projections are used to guide the discussion of participants in a certain way. For example, quiet places are projected when the facilitator aims for honesty in the discussion. To the contrary, noisy arenas are projected to help participants in uttering prejudgements. It was Sijme's task to make this space interactive, so that the projections changed according to the actions of participants.

Sijme design award pic2

The most important finding from an earlier performed investigation was that during subgroup sessions participants were very active in generating and discussing ideas. However, this attitude often changed in the plenary meeting afterwards. Typically the results from a subgroup were summarized by one presenter, who (accidentally) conflated the ideas of other members from his subgroup with his personal vision. As a result the 'vision of the group' started to differ from the vision of individual participants. During the study it was found that this slowly led to a less active attitude from many participants. Eventually this negatively influenced the participants' eagerness to implement the results in their daily work.

Sijme design award pictureIn an iterative process a prototype was designed which aimed to avoid such plenary presentations by encouraging one-on-one communication. This version was tested in a large user study with 72 participants for Dr Jelle van Dijk's PhD study. The observations and feedback from participants fueled an optimal future implementation.

In the newest version of Traces the creative session is split in three phases. The session starts with a conventional brainstorm where all participants receive a digital camera. Participants are encouraged to take pictures of matters which they consider worthy to discuss later on, such as sticky notes, objects or persons. Once the facilitator estimates that enough ideas have been generated, the group moves to the interactive space where the photos of participants are projected in front of them. All personal projections will follow when walking around. Participants can interact with their images using dedicated devices which allow both for drawing and for manipulating images. The projections on the floor allow multiple people to discuss their ideas simultaneously (instead of in a plenary session). Also, the thumbnails of others trigger curiosity, which help the less expressive participants to fully utter their ideas. The third phase is again initiated by the facilitator. This is the part where participants aim to integrate, to come to one winning concept (or combination). This is done using projections on the walls, which allow for quickly switching from projected content to faces of others.

Traces will be exhibited at the Dutch Design Week, which will take place from 22 to 30 October in Eindhoven. You are most warmly invited to visit the exhibition at TU/e in The Netherlands! A video of the future concept, as well as the masters thesis can be found at or


Sijme Geurts: //


This story is featured in the Fall 2011 edition of the Trunk & Branches newsletter. Download the whole newsletter HERE.

For previous editions of the Trunk & Branches, please visit this page.





















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