Enabling relationships in a co-creative process with children

The aim of this paper is to describe methods, instruments, and the entire iterative process of an action-research realized by a designer and an anthropologist. The project was conducted through co-design workshops together with 324 participants (8-15 years old) and as a result an interactive object “Emotion Capsule” was created. The project raises critical questions about the use of artefacts and digital technology while involving children in the design process, inviting them to explore their needs, desires, and dreams through creating a new object. In our process, various artifacts and tools were used, as pretexts to explore needs and to facilitate motivation and co-participation. The Emotion Capsule was realized as a working prototype, which then was used in 12 classrooms. The prototype is embedded with sensors and actuators, collecting the participants’ unexpressed emotions and sharing them with others anonymously. It turns intangible things like sentiments into a tangible experience in which participants can freely express themselves and reflect on their common problems. The qualitative data obtained during our activities were analyzed through design and anthropological perspectives. The paper reflects on the iterative nature of the collaborative design process and how human and non-human entities co-create themselves in a sustainable way.