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Theatre Lab

Why have a Theatre Lab in a design research group?

Theatre is about human relationships, how people act with one another, what happens in our verbal and bodily communication and how other people impact to actions and decisions that we take. And this is, we believe, an important part of working as a designer. Developing new ideas and innovative practices often happens in improvised interaction between people with different perspectives. And collaborating with internal partners as well as external stakeholders is a key skill for designers. Traditional design methods offer visual perspectives to the interaction and user experience, where as theatre methods can be used as a way to design from within a setting, a situation or an object.

Theatre Lab provides students and researchers with a “laboratory” to explore social dynamics and object interactions through participatory theatre methods. We work with design students on matters like improvisation, multi-stakeholder theatre and object theatre. We also use insights from improvisational theatre to inform our way of researching and work with the full range of methods for design, organisational change and qualitative research.

Recently the Theatre Lab has been engaged with different forms of theatre in design research projects, like:


A project dealing with cancer treatment, in which patient empowerment and the communication between patient and doctors/nurses are to be improved. In theatre workshops we will have actors playing a scene that illuminates some of the themes in conversations between the doctor/nurse/patient/relative. Together with the audience we improvise possible interactions and reflect how we can understand concepts like shared decision-making and existential conversations.



As a part of our study how various forms of theatre can support design and design research, we have invited students and researchers to take part in exploring objects, designing objects, and interacting with objects through theatrical ways of working. Can a designer learn anything from this experience? We believe that object theatre can help designers to change perspective and consider novel interactions with a product/object as well as help to take multiple stakeholder perspectives.


To hear more, contact:
Preben Friis,
Merja Ryöppy,

Last Updated 26.02.2018