The Blue Plaque: Co-Creating Design Fictions in the Wild

Mel Woods, Deborah Maxwell

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    Blue heritage plaques pepper the UK landscape expounding officially validated narratives celebrating past events, people, and buildings. This paper and exhibition artifact at Microsoft Research Lab Cambridge, presents a novel method that draws on this specific cultural context to generate reflective, nano-stories, documenting them through populating a place and physical space. The guerrilla blue plaque method was designed to enable engagement, collaborative story development and exchange, initially as part of a wider UK arts and digital media festival and developed further for RTD 2015. The authors’ primary aim for the case study presented in this paper was to enable visitors to reflect on possible futures, in this instance the theme of future cities. This was achieved through co-creating shared stories via commemorative guerrilla versions of blue plaques. This paper explores the rationale for re-appropriating the blue plaques as critical design artefacts to help understand the future hopes, needs, and goals for individuals and communities. We position the method in relation to action research, co-design and design fictions. Finally, by considering early findings and subsequent adaptions, we present new adoptions of the method, and reflect on the role of the guerrilla blue plaque as a feedback mechanism for participatory design and citizen engagement.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRTD2015 - 21st Century Makers and Materialities
    Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 2nd Biennial Research Through Design Conference
    PublisherResearch Through Design
    Number of pages15
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventSecond Biennial Research through Design (RTD) Conference - Microsoft Research, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    Duration: 25 Mar 201527 Mar 2015


    ConferenceSecond Biennial Research through Design (RTD) Conference
    Abbreviated titleRTD2015 - 21st Century Makers and Materialities
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


    • Storytelling
    • Critical design
    • Design fictions
    • Future
    • Reflection


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