The Body in Play: Dimensions of Embodiment in Design for Play

Ida Kathrine Hammeleff Jørgensen, Harun Kaygan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

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This paper offers an analysis of how design activities engage with the body in the context of teaching embodied methods, and specifically body-centric design for play. Based on the analysis, we propose an empirically grounded framework for describing the various engagements with and considerations around the body as it comes into play in coursework on the use of body-centric design methods.
Under an overarching interest in dealing with use contexts and interactions as embodied and situated experiences, designers have been concerned with diverse issues, problems, aspects and opportunities related to the body. In interaction design and design-oriented HCI, this is reflected in a wealth of theories, design concepts, methodological frameworks and design examples that describe, explore and guide the design of body-technology relations. Much of such work has been of a normative character, recommending how design practice or designed things should relate to bodies, with an eye to method or design concept development. Few work has been concerned with how this interest can be implemented in design education, and how to teach students to attune themselves to bodies. In this paper, we apply an analytical, rather than normative, approach to body-centric methods, and one that is situated within the context of a specific area of interest for design practice, i.e. that of design for play. Through that, we focus on how distinct views of and approaches to body intersect in design activities, as they are carried out by students as part of coursework. The paper also contributes to embodied play design education by providing a body-centred framework.
Based on empirical data collected from project work carried out by design students on a master’s course in product design, this paper offers an analysis of the students’ engagements with and considerations of the body.We find five bodily dimensions: the physical body and its parts; the body as locus of action; the body as locus of embodied experience; the social body; the body as materially entangled – and one practice-specific dimension, the body in play. These findings are then described in the form of a matrix aimed at guiding design education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTEI’24 : ACM International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction
Number of pages12
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication dateFeb 2024
Article number31
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024
EventTangible Embedded and Embodied Interaction: On the Edge - University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
Duration: 11. Feb 202414. Feb 2024
Conference number: 18


ConferenceTangible Embedded and Embodied Interaction
LocationUniversity College Cork
Internet address


  • body-centered design
  • design for play
  • embodiment
  • design education


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