The Role of Subjective Well-Being in Co-Designing Open-Design Assistive Devices
Lieven De Couvreur, Walter Dejonghe, Jan Detand, Richard Goossens


In this paper we explore the role of subjective well-being within the process of making together a personalized assistive device. Through a process of social product adaptation, assistive artifacts become part of occupational therapy and co-evolve with clients. Personal digital fabrication tools enable small user groups to make and share their one-of-a-kind products with the world. This approach opens up new possibilities for disabled people and their caregivers to actively engage with their own skills and challenges. The paper describes a case study of an inclusive participatory design approach, which leads to qualitative occupational experiences within the field of community-based practice. The aim is to show how the process of collaborative designing, making and using artifacts fosters several elements of subject well-being in itself. The starting point of this open design process is a threefold interaction involving industrial designers, patients and occupational therapists within their local product ecology. Co-experience driven design is an intersubjective process that enables all individual stakeholders to work on a common phenomenon in respect of each subjective experience. Participatory prototyping is applied as a mobilization medium that (a) coordinates and (b) motivates design actions towards collaborative well-being equilibriums. This form of artifact-mediated participatory design embodies simultaneously (1) a communication language between all stakeholders that identifies meaningful goals, (2) an explorative process to attain and challenge these goals, (3) a selection of meaningful and engaging prototyping activities and (4) an appropriateness process with local skills and technology. By implementing this creative process, disabled people and their carers become conscious actors in providing collaborative maintenance of their own physical, mental and social well-being.

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