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Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, Bill Gaver had to cancel this Thursday Night lecture. A new date in autumn 2016 will be planned. Keep an eye on our website to stay informed.

With his trailblazing book Design: Cultural Probes (1999) Professor Bill Gaver introduced a new research method aimed at stimulating dialogue between designers and the people for whom their designs are ultimately intended. Seventeen years later, Gaver looks back on some of his projects conducted according to this and other related methods, and talks about the current interaction between designers and their public. 

20:00 – 22:00

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam


Programme€ 7,50
Programme students & Friends of Het Nieuwe Instituut€ 3,75
Thursday Night Dinner (without programme)€ 17,50
Students Willem de Kooning Academygratis

Cultural Probes is a technique for generating ideas in a design process, a way of collecting data about people’s lifestyle, values, opinions, and so on. Various tools and artefacts can be used, such as a floor plan, postcard, camera or diary, in combination with specific tasks for the participants in which they record certain events, feelings or exchanges. Inspired by the Situationists, the international political art movement that provoked society in the late 1950s with spontaneous happenings and other jarring situations, this design-research technique underscores the value of an artistic approach to user-oriented design research.

Seventeen years after the publication of Design: Cultural Probes, design research is gaining ground in both design practice and education. The cultural probes approach has done service as an important example of such research, but this is merely the tip of the iceberg. What developments have we seen in design research since 1999 and what are the ramifications for current practices such as social, participatory or open design? 


In recent years there has been a renewal of interest in the role of research in the cultural sector. In a world in which data circulates at great speed and in increasingly vast quantities, research plays a crucial role in visualising and clarifying new ideas and insights. Het Nieuwe Instituut aims to stimulate projects, practices and initiatives and to create a podium where success is not reliant upon academic references, official formats or commercial viability, but which offers alternatives to conventional research practices and explores collective forms of knowledge formation. 

This Thursday Night has been organised in partnership with the Master Design course at the Willem de Kooning Academy, in which design research and the development of new practices play a central role. 

William (Bill) Gaver

Bill Gaver is Professor of Design and co-director of the Interaction Research Studio in Goldsmiths, University of London. His research on design-led methodologies and innovative technologies for everyday life led him to develop an internationally recognised studio that brings the skills of designers together with expertise in ubiquitous computing and sociology. His work has been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate Britain in London, and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He has published more than seventy articles and is an elected member of the CHI Academy.

Further reading: Gaver, W, Dunne, A. & Pacenti, E., ‘Design: Cultural Probes’, Interactions, Vol 6, Issue 1,  Jan/Feb 1999.

Thursday Night at Het Nieuwe Instituut
Luca Napoli

Thursday Night Live! is a weekly programme of lectures, screenings and discussions on architecture, design and digital culture. Developments and critical insights are discussed by thinkers, designers and makers from the Netherlands and abroad.