Models for Creating Museum Experiences – Toni Roberts and Sigurd Trolle Gronemann

Models for Creating Museum Experiences
DFL Research Group Seminar
Monday March 24th, 3.30 – 5pm.
Toni Roberts and Sigurd Trolle Gronemann


Presentation – Toni Roberts

Interpretation aims to connect visitors with places, histories, ideas and objects. Zoos, museums, national parks and other sites use interpretation to communicate often complex, layered messages, aiming to create transformative experiences with lasting impact on visitor attitudes and behaviour. The significance of interpretation design has increased as museums and zoos seek to engage visitors in multi-sensory experiences but the theory and practice of multi-form design outputs in such contexts remains largely unexamined. Theoretical models are needed to support designers in their work, to educate clients about suitable project management and to guide critique of design outcomes. Practitioners hold significant expertise not represented within the limited literature and avenues for sharing knowledge are limited. Drawing on practitioner knowledge gathered through interview and qualitative case study in my PhD research, I propose a basic model of the foundations of interpretation design that encompasses design approaches, techniques and types. A conceptual framework of cognitive, affective and physical modes of visitor engagement underpins an illustrated typology of design outcomes. The think-feel-do model supports designers’ focus on visitor needs and interests in contrast to traditional categories of design forms and media.

Toni Roberts
With experience and qualifications in education and design, Toni is a practitioner and researcher in the design of interpretive environments for zoos, museums and related contexts. Projects include Auckland Zoo’s Te Wao Nui native precinct, The World Heritage Exhibition Centre at Mount Tomah Botanic Garden, Whittlesea Bushfire Memorial and interpretation planning for the Royal Australian Mint. Synthesising data from case studies, practitioner interviews, professional experience and the nascent literature of the field, Toni’s PhD thesis examines interpretation design practice, investigating the role of designers and the key impacts on their role. The thesis proposes models of interpretation design practice, a typology of design outcomes and a definition of the field.

Presentation – Sigurd Trolle Gronemann
To design and develop digital resources for museum learning, museums usually have to collaborate with specialised ICT design companies. But with free, advanced apps and web-services increasingly available, as well as affordable and easy-to-use platforms (e.g., iPads), new possibilities for museums to conceptualise, test and deploy digital concepts on their own are made possible. This presentation explores what happens when museums try to create new digital concepts with what they have at hand.

Drawing on an analysis of a media-ethnographic and design-based research study of how iPads were introduced into three Danish natural science museums, I present key characteristics and differences in these museums’ development approaches. I further discuss how this influences the final products and their use, arguing that working with portable tablets and existing apps can have a positive influence on important procedural aspects (e.g., iterative capabilities, involvement of users in testing, museum staff’s sense of ownership and so on) as well as pushing museums’ resources towards content production, supporting user adoption and satisfaction. In my conclusion, I will also discuss this approach’s shortcomings by project type, staff skill requirements and its tendency to impede radically divergent thinking and conceptualisations.

Sigurd Trolle Gronemann
PhD-fellow DREAM (Danish Research Centre on Education and Advanced Media Materials)/University of Southern Denmark, Sigurd holds an MA in digital design and communication from the IT University in Copenhagen with a specialization in participatory ICT design. With a broad practical experience in conceptualizing and designing digital experiences for private and public corporations he has worked as a digital strategist and an exhibition developer for several years. Starting in June 2012 Sigurd’s project aims at identifying the creative dynamics that occur when young people aged 12-20 are involved with social media activities in relation to natural science museums. It also studies how their interaction and reflection processes relate to the content and the communication purposes intended by the museums.

Humanness in design practices: a study of Familiness in Thai graphic design community – Khemmiga Teerapong

Please come along to learn, support and give feedback for Khem’s completion seminar on 3rd April, 9.30-10.30am, Design Hub, Level 8 meeting room. This is also in the DFL calendar.

Humanness in design practices: a study of Familiness in Thai graphic design community

This study explores humanness in design practices. While there is a significant body of research focusing on design artifacts and their contributions to economic and cultural capital, little is understood about human relationships and networks between designers and their community of practice. This research aims to understand how humanness influences design profession and design practices related to design contributing to society. This research focuses on the Thai graphic design community which interpersonal relationships are highly influential. An ethnographic approach was employed in this research through various methods of data collection. Qualitative data were obtained through semi-structured interviews, observations, informal conversations and graphic design works. Fourteen Thai graphic designers were selected from different backgrounds and they produced design projects relating to social issues. They are examples of socially responsible designers whose projects successfully impact on Thai society. An analysis of the qualitative data reveals strong connections between designers, and these social relationships lead to their design culture. The findings highlight that familiness as a subset of humanness is embedded in Thai graphic design community. This type of personal connections found in the community has been fostered from educational and professional bonds. The Thai designers gave their contributions to Thai society as familiness builds the community spirit and bring them to be an integral part of the society.

Design + Ethnography + Futures

DEF 15

Design + Ethnography + Futures proposes a new meeting of design and ethnography through a focus on futures. It is characterized by four concepts of disrupting, sharing, making and moving. We explore how the future orientation of combining design + ethnography approaches invites new forms of change-making, where uncertainty and the ‘not-yet-made’ is at the centre of inquiry. It brings the improvisory, playful, imaginative, sensorial and somewhat contested edges of both fields to create an opening to experiment with what might emerge out of an assembly of ideas, people, feelings, things and processes. In doing so, Design + Ethnography + Futures deliberately steps out of established disciplinary methodologies and move into the future with people and challenge what we habitually do and think about. It questions the taken-for-granted, trigger genuine surprise, play with the edges of boundaries and reconfigure ways knowledge is produced.

The program of research offered by Design + Ethnography + Futures is oriented around doing and some activities are deliberately provocative to ‘shake’ people out of their comfort zones and move away from just ‘talking’ or ‘writing’ as a research activity. A series of five / six “moves”, as workshops, have been put together, each led by a guest researcher who brings their own take on what can be co-created and explored together, whilst still contributing to the overall aims of Design + Ethnography + Futures. These ‘moves’ will be documented processually, culminating into an end of year symposium in early December 2014, to draw out key insights and collectively reflect on what has emerged. They will also inform the development of project work.

Design + Ethnography + Futures is a program initiated by staff in the School of Media and Communication and Design Research Institute through the Design Futures Lab and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre, and supported by the Design Research Institute.

Please keep an eye out for notices on the events page. For any enquiry, please contact or

DEF 11 DEF 13 DEF 12

Producing critique: DFL March Colloquium – Dr Brad Haylock

Please join us for our second DFL colloquium for 2014! Dr Brad Haylock will present as our newest DFL member… hope to see you there!

Monday March 17 @ 3:45pm
RMIT Design Hub: Level 8 meeting room area

image credit: Wojtek Goscinski

image credit: Wojtek Goscinski


Brad Haylock is an artist, designer and publisher. He is Associate Professor in Communication Design at RMIT University, and founding editor of Surpllus, an independent publisher of printed matter pertaining to critical and speculative practices across art, design and architecture.