Silvia speaking at Narrative in Practice 2013: Creative Symposium

Silvia Grimaldi wioll be Speaking at

Narrative in Practice 2013: Creative Symposium
2 November – 9.00 to 5.30
St Luke’s Community Centre, 90 Central Street, London, EC1V 8AJ

Narrative quote:

“Narrative plays a central role in the way we interpret and communicate our experience of the world and our interactions with it. Narratives help us organise events and make sense of time, empathise with others and move us on an emotional level. Because of this, using an object is not only an experience, it is an interaction and it is narrative in nature.”


About the talk:

I met Narrative through Surprise. I was working on a project for my master’s thesis, looking at how surprise could be used within product design on a level that went deeper than novelty, to create interesting or meaningful experiences through the objects. While working on the project and writing about it after I realised that creating surprises within the user’s experience of the object inherently creates a temporal aspect, a before and after. There is a state of expectation before the surprise, and by definition the surprise needs to change this state to a different one.

This led me to be more interested in ideas around interpretation of objects over time, and designing the experience of an object as opposed to the object itself. Narrative seemed like a useful tool in order to help organise these experiences over time as well as give meaning and richness to these object experiences.

My PhD Designing Narrative Product Interactions looks at how narratives can be used to enhance both the design process and the user experience of object. In particular it takes films as a starting point and analyses which elements from the film, such as characters, structure, meaning, emotional reactions, etc., could be used by designers within product experiences.

The final aim of my PhD is to come up with a series of guidelines to help designers think of the product experience in a narrative way and to design tools for designers to use within the design process which can help to create highly tellable objects. Highly tellable objects should lead to user experiences with high narrativity, which will be more prone to being experienced, interpreted, remembered and retold with gusto.

Invitation downloadable here Invitation Narrative in Practice 2013  and more information on the website


Silvia Grimaldi presents paper at DPPI 2013

Silvia spent the last year working on a collaborative paper with Steven Fokkinga of Technical University Delft (The Netherlands) and Ioana Ocnarescu of Bell Labs/Strate College Paris (France), entitled Narraties in Design: a study of the types, applications and functions of narratives in design practice. The paper surveys different uses of narrative within the (broadly product) design process and the user experience of objects, to explore a different way of looking at the user experience of objects as a narrative experience.

This resulted in a conference paper for DPPI 2013, Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces. The conference was co-located with Research Through Design, contained within a meta/conference entitled Praxis and Poetics. This was at the Baltic in Newcastle at the begining of September, and there were some great speakers and exhibition materials.

The conference website is here and you can also download the full paper from here

Valerie Mace at EVA conference

I presented a paper called ‘Re-imaging the environment’ the 2013 London EVA conference. Some of my more recent work explores the potential of digital visualisation tools to investigate and communicate less tangible aspects of our environment such as emotions. The paper covers a range of projects around the theme of spatial exploration as a journey through mental space, the exploration of experiential and sensory stimulations in our environment  or even what I call spatial empathy, expressed through performance and film.



This paper represents a study of selected visualisation and investigative methods that facilitate the exploration and expression of human emotions and perceptions within real world environments during the design development stages of a project, repositioning exploration and visualisation in spatial design education. It puts forward an outline for an iterative enquiry around human experiences in order to assess the value of alternative cognitive tools for spatial design students in higher education.

Established tools such as orthographic drawings, axonometric projections or scale models equip spatial designers with the consistency they need to investigate and represent physical attributes of space but don’t always constitute the best methods to explore the perceived environment, even though it is a key contributing factor to the way we experience our surroundings. It is therefore in the interest of design educators to investigate complementary interpretations that enable students to consciously explore less tangible aspects of design such as emotions and multi-sensorial modalities. Projects developed using tools and techniques ranging from digital 2D and 3D image making, photography, film, animation and performance provide an insight into the possibilities offered by existing visual technologies as dynamic study devices of human experiences and contribute to the generation of alternative processes in spatial design education.

Full paper

EVA 2012


EVA stands for Electronic Visualisation and the Arts, an interdisciplinary conference in the field of digital visualisation. It was the first time I attended and I could only attend 1 of the 3 days of the conference last July, which is a shame because there were some really interesting papers presented across all 3 days: museum studies, digital performance, augmented reality, simulation, 3D scanning, digital archaeology, etc.

The papers area available as a publication and on-line. Click here for more information. The web archive includes all abstracts and pdf versions of the papers.