Student Design Competition

Student Design Competition is a new addition to NordiCHI conference. It aims at supplementing the NordiCHI 2014 program with unconventional and visionary entries and inviting the makers of a human-centered future to join the community.

Quick Facts about Student Design Competition

  • Submission: August 14, 2014 (5:00pm PT)
  • Online submission: Precision Conference submission system (PCS)
  • Notification: September 14, 2014
  • Submission Format: Non-anonymized six-page document in SIGCHI Extended Abstracts Format and proof of the student status of all team members. An optional link to a video or a web site can be provided as additional material for review.
  • At the Conference: Up to five accepted design competition submissions will be chosen to give an oral presentation and showcase a demo
  • Archives: Finalist teams’ extended abstracts distributed for NordiCHI’14 participants

The Design Problem
The topic of NordiCHI 2014 student design competition deals with the links of interaction design and design of emerging digital solutions with the long tradition of material based design and craft. We want the participants to pay attention to what high quality craftsmanship is, to the touch and feel of natural material and the combinations and/or transformations of these qualities in the domain of interaction design. The topic of the competition is tied to the application of a particular material in design. That material is leather.

Leather is a material of wearable products. It brings to mind shoes, bags, belts, and wallets that are personal, often hand-made, have a flavor or luxury, and have a history of evolutionary design behind them. These qualities are not perhaps exactly opposite to those of digital designs, but definitely not the most characteristic either. Thus combining the spirit of leather and the digital is a challenge in style, image and experience.

Leather is traditional and conservative, but through its role in subcultures it has also connotations of rebellion as a symbol of outlaw attitude, and the material of biker vests. Leather and sex is also a combination where the material is seen in another light. When faced as upholstery of an old leather couch it tells again a different story. The way it wears increases its value while brand new leather feels yet unfinished. The subtle way its wear and tear manages to tell a particular story of the life of the family with whom the material has been living. Leather can take many roles and be associated with many domains of life and life styles, but it never is neutral. Leather is also a material, which has since the development of polymeric substitutes been a target of imitation and the tension of values between fake and real is an essential aspect of our conception of leather. Leather can be replaced with fake leather in the competition entries if preferred.

The assignment does not define the role of leather in the competition entries. Yet, with this said, pure metaphorical reference to leather will not be appreciated. The actual material needs to be part of the proposed concept or pattern – or the context of use of the concept should be such that it connects the concept to leather. This does not say that the more metaphorical, conceptual and even philosophical elaborations on the values and qualities of material and immaterial design would not be welcome. On the contrary, we assume and hope that the topic of the competition makes the participants reflect on the dialogues between digital and material, innovative and traditional, synthetic and natural, functionality and style, practicality and aesthetics, throw-away-consumption and durability, craft and industrial production, personal and anonymous, ethical and ignorant, fake and real, nerdy and rough, nerdy and sophisticated.

The design topic clearly deals with style, image and identity of products, but that goes hand in hand with the functionality. Leather as a material is thin, flexible, durable, soft and warm. It can be manipulated in ways that are not typical to mainstream interactive products. A simple product such as a belt affords a number of different interactions, from tightening and loosening to rolling and twisting. All these challenge the old dominant interaction paradigm of pressing a button as well as the new one of sweeping an interactive surface.

Linking the designs with the conference themes – fun, fast, foundational – would be an additional merit for the entries.

The Competition Structure
The competition follows a two-phase process. First, the student teams shall submit a short max 6-page paper in extended abstracts format. A panel of experts will evaluate the submissions and a maximum of five teams will be selected to the finals at the NordiCHI 2014 conference. Second, the finalists will give an oral presentation to a panel of Competition Judges and NordiCHI 2014 conference attendees and display their project outcomes in a demo session. The judges will rank the entries and identify the winner of the competition.

Attendance at the NordiCHI 2014 conference is mandatory for the finalists. The NordiCHI steering committee will provide a free conference registration for 4 students in each of the five finalist teams.

Phase One: Extended Abstract and Supplementary Material
The student teams prepare a camera-ready maximum of 6 pages long non-anonymized document in SIGCHI Extended Abstracts Format. Additional material can be submitted online.

The Extended Abstract should include:

  • A description of the design topic, objectives, main benefits and claims of the design and of course the proposed solution
  • A description of the crucial phases of the design process
  • A design rationale including design principles, sources of inspiration, and design theory to the extent that are relevant
  • Acknowledgement of assistance drawn from outside the student team such as advisors, faculty, domain experts, existing solutions, users and other stakeholders.

The Supplementary Material should include, when applicable:

  • Examples of significant contextual data and its interpretation
  • Examples of creative sources of inspiration
  • Examples of intermediate solutions such as sketches of the evolving solution
  • Visualizations to illustrate the design solution and the context and patterns of use
  • Evaluation data in support of the concept

All submissions must be in English and must include title and author information, including author affiliations. Be sure that submissions do not contain proprietary or confidential material and do not cite proprietary or confidential publications.

Phase Two: Presentation
The finalist teams will present their design process and solution to the Judges and NordiCHI 2014 attendees. The oral presentations will be limited to 10 minutes plus 5 minutes to answer questions from the judges and audience. Presentations should include summaries of the design process, design solution, and the benefits of the solution. In addition, the teams are asked to showcase their designs in a demo session. The requirements for the student competition demos are the same as with the demo session entries.

Reviewing Criteria
Both academic and professional usability and/or design experts will review the submissions. In phase one the submissions will be reviewed based on:

  • Use of appropriate design methods
  • Clarity and credibility of the design objectives
  • Originality, relevance and quality of the design solution, including the claimed benefits of the design and supporting evidence
  • Aesthetic and experiential quality of the proposal
  • Innovation, robustness and rigor within the design process.
  • Clarity of the submitted material.

During Phase Two the entries will be judged based on the clarity and relevance of the oral presentation and presentation material, the demo, in addition to the Phase One criteria.

The top three entries earn a Certificate of Recognition. The winning entry will be recognized during the NordiCHI 2014 conference and will receive a special award at the conference.

News July 18, 2014: Also Don Norman will be in the jury at NordiCHI to select the winner.

Submissions are invited from all students at all stages of their university careers, from undergraduate to postgraduate. While not a requirement, it is encouraged that the teams put forward a cross-disciplinary multinational team. The teams must consist of at least two, but no more than four students. There is no limit to the number of teams that may compete from any given University or organization.
To be eligible for the student competition, all team members should show that they have a student status on the day of the Student Design Competition entry submission deadline, 14 August 2014. A signed letter from the academic advisor or student administration office will be required. Each team must provide a separate pdf file containing scanned signed letters for each team member.

Please email us your questions and submissions.

Turkka Keinonen, Aalto University, Finland
Jo Herstad, University of Oslo, Norway