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Digital Christmas

Digital Christmas

Research Centre
Art and Design Research Centre


Elaborating on the result of a field study of Christmas traditions in eight British households, we are exploring the design of technology specifically aimed at augmenting existing practices of family celebrations

Four concepts that favoured playfulness and engagement across generations were discussed in a workshop with eight people who took part in the initial field study. The importance of being connected and spending time together in a way that reinforces the family bonding was evident.

The enthusiasm demonstrated during the workshop for some proposals and participants’ engagement in revisiting those that did not feel right to produce better concepts seems to demonstrate there is space for interaction design that is ethnographically motivated and aesthetically harmonious with the meaning of home. In our work, we bridge the gap between individual and collective experience and between material and digital culture by looking at times when a tight group comes together: the family at Christmas Year after year, Christmas creates a chain of reference points in people’s life.

It is an ideal context for collective remembering: remote friends and family meet; events are made special by exceptional behaviours (e.g., preparing special food) and the performance of rituals (e.g., home decoration or gift giving).

By designing around Christmas we explore the potential for collective remembering via digital media.

A field study on family traditions at Christmas was conducted, revealing aspects of togetherness that could be augmented by technology, particularly that the family is dispersed for the most of the year and reunited for a few days.

Design concepts were generated and explored, props made and used in a workshop with some of the families of the initial study.

Researchers involved

Professor Daniela Petrelli - Professor in Interaction Design

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