News and Events


Wen Yau: Occupy Movement expands imagination, experience of city space


Dubbed ‘the city of protest’, Hong Kong has seen various demonstrations that effectively engaged a growing number of people and redefine their experiences of using public spaces.

According to Wen Yau from the Academy of Visual Arts, HKBU, civic-led campaigns have negotiated the desired ‘openness and transparency’ as claimed by the government and re-interpreted the site-as-an-open-platform for civil engagement in Hong Kong.

“For example, the (re-)naming of the plaza outside the Government Offices as ‘Civic Square’, making Tamar Park as an open space for autonomous learning during class boycotts, and camping on the roads during the Occupy movement have opened up our imagination of city space and let us perform our rights to the city in creative ways,” she said.

Occupation is not only a tactic of protest that allows people to voice their demand for democracy; it also facilitates the building of an ideal community by co-living in the site and continuous deliberation, she added.

By performing a high level of self-discipline and mutual support in the non-violent and peaceful protest, people are also demonstrating an ideal humanity in contrast to the frustrating social reality and unequal political system, she noted.

“Such a utopian experience of occupation, I’d argue, is the driving force of the movement even in the face of the local and PRC government’s suppression,” she said.

Wen Yau will present her paper Performing Hong Kong’s Identity: From Civic Square to Occupy Movement – A Spatial Perspective on Social Activism during the XD conference—to be kicked off coming Thursday (27 Nov). Her paper examines how these new spatial experiences have contributed to the building of public sphere in civil society and performativity of the people’s identity in these civil movements.

Designing Experience: ‘The Ballerina on the Elephant’ is a 3-day international conference on experience design (27-29 Nov 2014). Make your booking here.

Cornelia Erdmann in action

Cornelia Erdmann invites you to her chocolate adventure

Cornelia Erdmann in action

Cornelia Erdmann in action

Apricots_ Curry-pralines Curry-white chocolate Kumquat-Lollies

What is chocolate to you? Something you nibble on between meals? A comfort food?

It’s a culinary adventure to Cornelia Erdmann of laiyanProjects, a creative platform that fuses art and design and covers projects ranging from public art to graphic design, from art curation to imaginative problem solving in the creative industry.

One of Erdmann’s projects Zuckerwerk—an old German word meaning candy—allows her to combine her love for baking and the creation of adventures.

Though finding chocolate an excellent medium for painting and sculpting, the artist focuses on coming up with unique flavours and how the food might boost cognitive abilities. “My. husband calls me a ‘food bohemian’ because I like to combine chocolate with ingredients that would normally be found in other dishes,” she noted. “This way I surprise people’s taste buds and create a food safari.”

Your sweet experience in XD Conference
In addition to different flavours of chocolate, Erdmann will also create a variety of cakes, muffins, and cookies with dried fruits, nuts, and other healthy, organic, and unusual ingredients for the upcoming XD Conference.

According to her, conference participants will be on a ‘tasting journey across various regions’. “From the creamy Swiss Alps, via the German cake heaven, and to the colourful flavours of Asia,” she said.

What that means is you will come across Wasabi peas, chilli, lime, saffron, ginger, curry, and other ingredients in her thoughtfully-created delicacies.

Designing Experience: ‘The Ballerina on the Elephant’ is a 3-day international conference on experience design (27-29 Nov 2014). Make your booking here.

open cinema 3

Artist, architect re-animate history with Open Cinema

open cinema 3_editedopen cinema 1open cinema 2open cinema_guimaraes 1open cinema_guimaraes_b

You might have gone to an outdoor cinema, but what about ‘getting immersed’ inside a structure from waist up and having your feet grounded in open space while watching movies?

That was the temporary structure (pictured) that artist Marysia Lewandowska and architect Colin Fournier created for the Portuguese town of Guimaraes—the European Cultural Capital 2012.

Offering a new approach to film viewing and engaging audiences with a playful experience, Open Cinema was created as a tribute to the politically radical cinema culture championed by the local CineClub as well as to the town’s manufacturing past. The structure could hold up to 48 spectators.

“It was the pre-Internet era when watching films had a different meaning,” said Lewandowska. “Frequent screenings provided club members with a space of longing as well as discussion. The screenings as social events were driven as much by the love of film as by resistance to the political regime.”

The Open Cinema in the public square of Largo Condessa do Juncal re-animated that history, promoting openness, generosity, and at the same time emphasising free access for all citizens and visitors, Lewandowska and Fournier noted.

The cinema screened a loop of 23 film trailers from the club’s archive. The trailers were picked by the employees of two local factories, who voted for their favourites at screening sessions held during lunch breaks.

The Open Cinema was also adapted as an associated project of 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale.

Both Lewandowska and Colin Fournier will share more about their Open Cinema project on 28 Nov, 2014 at the XD Conference.

Colin Fournier is Emeritus Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London (UCL), where he was, for 15 years, Director of the Master of Architecture course in Urban Design, as well as Director of Diploma Unit 18. He is currently Visiting Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

Marysia Lewandowska is a Polish born artist based in London and Hong Kong. Through her collaborative projects, she has explored the public function of archives, collections and exhibitions. She is Artist in Residence at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong during 2015-2015, and at the same time a professor at the Faculty of Arts of Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Designing Experience: ‘The Ballerina on the Elephant’ is a 3-day international conference on experience design (27-29 Nov 2014). Make your booking here.

Marisa Yiu

Public spaces in HK: Beyond commercial gains

Marisa Yiu

Marisa Yiu

What could transform the commerce-dominated public spaces in Hong Kong?

According to Marisa Yiu—an architect, a curator, and an educator, she tries to build a feedback mechanism that can shape new types of conversations necessary to transform sites beyond commercial gains. This could be achieved through curating and designing interactive installations that deal with public participation and pedagogy, she added.

“I examine our collective desire to inject more educational and interpretive experiences for the public’s interaction, as positive elements for societal gain within the creative and cultural
landscape of Hong Kong,” she noted.

Yiu will present her paper Curatorial Networks: Designing Alternative Landscapes to Commercial Interventions at the XD Conference. She will share case studies on the recent urban transformation
of public spaces from the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture sites along Hong Kong’s West Kowloon waterfront to the recent Value Factory venue in Shenzhen and smaller non-profit art spaces in Hong Kong.

Marisa Yiu is an architect and founding partner of ESKYIU, a multi-disciplinary architecture studio actively integrating culture, community, art and technology based in Hong Kong. She was the chief curator of the 2009 Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture. Recently Yiu curated the POP-UP Studio-X Shenzhen. Yiu is also teaching at the School of Architecture, Chinese University Hong Kong.

Designing Experience: ‘The Ballerina on the Elephant’ is a 3-day international conference on experience design (27-29 Nov 2014). Make your booking here.

Tyler: Design is about putting people first

Dr. Nick Tyler

Dr. Nick Tyler

Dr. Nick Tyler

What’s your focus when designing a system, an item or a structure? According to Dr. Nick Tyler, Civil, Environmental, and Geomatic Engineering Department, University College London, his focus is people.

“It’s people who interact with our design– whatever it is and however it is expressed – and how they participate in what we created matters,” said Tyler. “As a result, we have to look at how interactions might work and how a design might allow people with different capabilities to interact with it”

He will present his paper Engaging People : Engaging Design as a keynote speaker in the XD Conference. His work will show audiences why we must engage with all members of society, including those who might never interact with our design, if our goal is to create a better world where people are valued.

Tyler has a history of developing methods for public participation in public transport design decisions, including works on vehicle design, infrastructure and operations. He mixes artistic and engineering approaches to create a trans-disciplinary model for design and decision-making challenges.

Designing Experience: ‘The Ballerina on the Elephant’ is a 3-day international conference on experience design (27-29 Nov 2014). Make your booking here.

Peter Benz

The experiment of marrying two theories

Peter Benz

Benz tries to marry Eisenstein’s attraction theory with Luhmann’s system theory for ground-breaking insights into the nature of experience.

Though Peter Benz quit theatre and film studies in university, he found one thing in a theatre course that still inspires him today in his professional and academic life.

According to Benz from the Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University, it’s Sergej Eisenstein’s polemic manifesto Montage of Attractions of 1923.

“Though it’s only two A4-pages long—the important bits are roughly in two paragraphs—I have since revisited, applied and used this at numerous occasions, in various contexts, and with changing intentions,” he said. “It’s never disappointed me, remaining the most intellectually stimulating scholarly text I’ve come across.”

Benz turned to the manifesto again when he started to look into the emerging discipline of experience design some years ago. “Reading it again I noted that Eisenstein’s definition of ‘attraction’ seems to resonate closely with the theory of social systems of German sociologist Niklas Luhmann,” he said.

“If my intuition proves correct—that Eisenstein’s attraction theory and Luhmann’s system theory could be ‘married’— this could indeed provide ground-breaking insights into the very nature of experience, how it works, and how it may be applied by experiential designers,” he added.

Benz will present his paper Montage of Events: Towards a Structure in Designed Experiences during the XD Conference.

Designing Experience: ‘The Ballerina on the Elephant’ is a 3-day international conference on experience design (27-29 Nov 2014). Make your booking here.


Designing experiences with wearables


Gomez: A better understanding of the impacts of future trends helps researchers, designers, and tech experts develop devices that ultimately raises patients’ wellbeing

How would wearables and technology evolution transform the patient experience and ultimately the human condition? That’s the question Dr. Rafael Gomez, School of Design, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, asks.

While portable devices are commonplace for many people worldwide, the same will be true for wearables soon.

In particular, wearables will have a critical role to play in the health industry, as they will not only allow ongoing, continuous, and unobtrusive monitoring of patient conditions but will also provide more realistic indications of health status and information otherwise inaccessible through other means .

Technology-led changes in health experience

As technology evolves, we will see a shift from devices that function externally to our bodies to being on our bodies as wearable devices, and ultimately merge with out bodies as implantable technologies. “At that point the patient experience will be transformed and we will enter an era in which devices will have the power to change the patient experience and ultimately the human condition,” said Dr. Gomez.

“While technology and other drivers continue to push the boundaries further, an important question arises: how will technology trends impact the nature of the patient and health experience?” he pointed out.

“By better understanding the impacts of future trends, researchers, designers and technology experts can contribute in a more meaningful way to the development of devices that ultimately raise the quality of life and wellbeing for patients now and in the future,” he said.

In XD Conference, Gomez will present his paper Designing Experiences with Wearables: A case study exploring the blurring boundaries of art, design, technology, culture and distance

Designing Experience: ‘The Ballerina on the Elephant’ is a 3-day international conference on experience design (27-29 Nov 2014). Make your booking here.

Prof. Koskinen Ilpo

Aesthetics in Experience Design

Prof. Koskinen Ilpo

Koskinen: there’s a lively debate about the role of aesthetics in design research.

What would a former sociologist bring to the table of experience design?

With a PhD in Sociology, Dr. Ilpo Koskinen from PolyU’s School of Design in Hong Kong dived into design research because he believes that it brings more fun. Besides industrial design, his newfound research interest is service and community design. He specializes in design methodology.

Observations on Aesthetics in Experience Design

In his presentation at the XD Conference, Koskinen will look at how design researchers deal with aesthetics in their work by comparing it with recent discussions in collaborative/participatory art.

His paper Observations on Aesthetics in Experience Design reviews several recent cases of community-oriented design research, providing an initial mapping of how design researchers work with aesthetics.

He argues that although aesthetics generates minimal discussion in contemporary experience design, there’s in fact a lively debate about its role in design research if we look at theoretical and methodological commitments that animate recent work.

Short bio of Ilpo Koskinen

Ilpo Koskinen moved to Hong Kong to join PolyU’s School of Design in August 2014 after many years of teaching and research at the Department of Design of Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. He published Design Research through Practice (Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann, 2011), in addition to more than 100 papers, conference papers, and books.

Designing Experience: ‘The Ballerina on the Elephant’ is a 3-day international conference on experience design (27-29 Nov 2014). Make your booking here.


XD & Associates to wow you with on-the-spot ice-cream


The ice-cream has a smooth texture as liquid nitrogen cools down milk atoms almost instantly.



Angress Li (left) and Max Kong will have special flavours created for the XD Conference

A typical conference serves you coffee and tea during breaks, but our XD & Associates Max Kong and Angress Li promise to wow you with their on-the-spot ice-cream at the upcoming XD Conference.

Both Kong and Li—AVA alumni from the Experience Design (Masters of Visual Arts) programme—worked as a team before in creating on-the-spot ice-cream during Fotanian 2014, the annual open studio event in the Fotan area.

“Studios had already addressed the senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, and touching with different works, but what about taste?,” said Kong and Li. “We want to tickle visitors’ senses with fun experiences. Our goal was to create big smiles.”

Spending two weeks exploring options, the two of them decided to make ice-cream in specially created flavours for the event using liquid nitrogen as the cryogenic—a technique used by star chefs such as Heston Blumenthal.

As liquid nitrogen cools down milk atoms almost instantly, it allows them to make ice-cream of different flavours for immediate consumption. This production method requires no freezing, thus creating a super smooth ice-cream texture.

Surprise flavours to mirror the spirit of XD Conference

Back then, the ice-cream team designed a set of four experimental flavours—Agent Orange (mango + Rum), Purple Haze (sangria), Industrial Centre (whiskey + chocolate), and Mystic Ice (Blue Curaçao + Vodka)—to mirror the Fotanian spirit. According to Kong and Li, alcohol-free versions were also available for children.

Asked if they will do the same for XD Conference, they said: “The special flavours for the event are secrets at the moment, but we’ll definitely give nice surprises to participants.”

As their on-the-spot ice-cream becomes popular, Kong and Li said that they will further explore business opportunities together. “We want to create our own brand and ice creameries,” they revealed. “Our initial idea is to have four ice-cream lines: the ‘adult’ series, the exotic series, the fresh organic series, and the healthy herbal series.

Designing Experience: ‘The Ballerina on the Elephant’ is a 3-day international conference on experience design (27-29 Nov 2014). Make your booking here.

Papers invited for presentation

The following proposed papers were invited for presentation at the conference was based on the outcomes of a double-blind peer-review, and subsequently confirmed by the conference’s Programme Committee in its meeting on 15 September 2014:

Designing for Experiences: Meaning Making through Synthesising by Design
Jenny Althoff, and Hlin Helga Gudlaugsdottir
Konstfack, University College of Arts Crafts and Design, Stockholm, Sweden

Towards a Common Framework to Operate with: Mediating Experience Design and Architecture
Dr. Hakan Anay, Dr. Meltem Anay, and Dr. Ülkü Özten
Department of Architecture, Eskisehir Osmangazi University, Eskisehir, Turkey
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