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Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you. (Aldous Huxley)

Welcome to the homepage of the Experience Design-concentration of the Master of Visual Arts (MVA)-programme of the Academy of Visual Arts. This is our home on the web, and here you can find all the recent news and activities in connection with our programme. Please take a look, and make sure to come back.

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Experience Design Book Project

“Experience Design as a discipline is so new that its very definition is in flux”, wrote Nathan Shedroff in his introduction to Experience Design 1 (Shedroff, 2001). Despite the passage of a decade since then, remarkably little seems to have changed: Experience Design (XD) as discipline in its own right remains underdeveloped. In the foreword of the 2011 edition of their book The Experience Economy Joseph Pine and James Gilmore lament their very similar observation: “Although the book [Experience Economy, 1999] has since been published in fifteen languages and purchased by more than three hundred thousand people worldwide, the book’s thesis has not sufficiently penetrated the minds of enough business leaders (and policy makers) to give bloom to a truly new – and desperately needed – economic order.” (Pine & Gilmore, 2011)

The past decade has seen only few dedicated publications on the subject of Experience Design, only a handful of academic programmes concerned with its issues exist worldwide, and very few professionals claim to be ‘Experience Designers’ on their business cards. One could therefore be tempted to dismiss the entire notion of Experience Design as a kind of ‘professional bubble’ that didn’t stand the test of time, and simply forget about it.

Nevertheless, the notion of ‘experience’ as an economic value is well accepted today, and it is common practice in a variety of professional (design) fields to refer to some sort of ‘experience’ as one practice outcome. Terminology such as ‘experiential marketing’ and ‘brand experience’ permeates the advertising business, down to the most common levels of promotional communication, producing such redundant slogans as ‘Feel the Experience’ (the slogan of Daytona International Speedway, Kazy Music and others). Similarly ‘product experience’, ‘customer experience’, but also ‘travel experience’, ‘educational experience’ and other similar experiential derivations are commonly accepted notions within almost any new product or service development.

Thus another picture emerges: although ‘experience’ is clearly a design issue, Experience Design remains ‘stuck’ in playing a poorly defined service role for other areas and, in this sense, is merely one approach amongst a number of competing concepts. The full potential of Experience Design – the possibility of designing real-life experiences for real people in the real world – has yet to be explored systematically.

Although there is of course academic and professional literature concerned with ‘the customer/user experience’ in the design field, such literature usually considers experience in retrospect, that is, after it has been produced and consumed. The existing literature is preoccupied also almost entirely with more or less tangible products that are ‘enhanced’ (i.e. advertised, promoted) by experience-providing components, and/or with usability issues for web designs and applications.


Research Group

Despite its omnipresence in marketing ‘lingo’ and usability forums Experience Design in many ways lacks professional and academic frameworks, in which research and developments of the area can be conducted, discussed, published and reviewed. It was therefore the aim of this project to establish a R&D community of academics and professionals interested in the exploration of issues in Experience Design; to provide them an online platform to develop their individual projects while engaging, interacting and communicating with likewise interested researchers and professionals; and through these efforts to work on clarifying theoretical and methodological issues, and advancing our understanding of the potentials and limitations of the area.

In October 2012 abstracts were invited on significant, original, and previously unpublished research, case studies and potentially other – more experimental – research formats. Based on the outcomes of a double-blind peer-reviewing process the authors of accepted abstracts were be invited to join a closed online research group in January 2013 to subsequently collaboratively work on the further development of respective projects to full-scale book-chapters.

The resulting volume is due to be published as


Benz, Peter (ed).
Experience Design: Concepts & Case Studies
London: Bloomsbury Academics, 2014 (forthcoming in November 2014).


Contents and contributors of the book are:


Editorial Introduction & Considerations
Dr Matthew Turner
School of Arts; Napier University; Edinburgh, UK


1. Positions

Fundamental Aspects of Human Experience: A Phenomeno(logical) Explanation
Dr Ian Coxon
Institute of Technology and Innovation; University of Southern Denmark; Odense, Denmark


Experience as Excursion: A Note towards a Metaphysics of Design Thinking
Dr Connie Svabo
Space, Place, Mobility and Urban Studies; Roskilde University; Roskilde, Denmark

Prof Michael Shanks
Classical Archaeology /, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design; Stanford University; Stanford (CA), USA


How Much Time and Effort Does it Take for “Experience Design” to Unfold?
Dr Catherine Elsen
Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research; Faculty of Applied Sciences; University of Liège; Liège, Belgium

Prof Pierre Leclercq
Faculty of Applied Sciences; University of Liège; Liège, Belgium


Experiential Equality and Digital Discrimination
Prof Linda Leung
Institute for Interactive Media & Learning; University of Technology Sydney; Sydney, Australia


2. Objects & Environments

Narrativity of Object Interaction Experiences: A Framework for Designing Products as Narrative Experiences
Ms Silvia Grimaldi
London College of Communication; University of the Arts; London, UK


Centres of Experience: Bodies and Objects in Today’s Museums
Mr Xavier Acarin
New York (NY), USA

Ms Barbara Adams
Department of Sociology; New School for Social Research; New York (NY), USA


Space, Experience, Identity & Meaning
Mr Peter Benz
Academy of Visual Arts; Hong Kong Baptist University; Hong Kong


Four Themes to (Phenomenologically) Understand Contemporary Urban Spaces
Ms Lakshmi Priya Rajendran
School of Architecture; University of Sheffield; Sheffield, UK

Dr Stephen Walker
School of Architecture; University of Sheffield; Sheffield, UK

Dr Rosie Parnell
School of Architecture; University of Sheffield; Sheffield, UK


3. Interactions & Performances

Co-Producing a Festival Experience: A Socio-Material Understanding of Experience Design
Dr Sara Malou Strandvad
Department of Communication, Business and Information Technologies; Roskilde University, Denmark

Ms. Kristine Munkgård Pedersen
Department of Communication, Business and Information Technologies; Roskilde University, Denmark


CurioUs: The Logic of Performance
Ms Amy Findeiss
Independent Scholar; New York City (NY), USA

Ms Eulani Labay
Independent Scholar; New York City (NY), USA

Ms Kelly Tierney
Independent Scholar; New York City (NY), USA


Designing for a Better Patient Experience
Dr Gretchen Caldwell Rinnert
School of Visual Communication Design; Kent State University; Kent (OH), USA


Designing Mobile User Experiences: A Framework for a Design Methodology
Mr Claus Ostergaard
Department of Communication and Psychology; Aalborg University; Aalborg, Denmark


Suspending Reality: A Disruptive Approach to Designing Transformative Experiences
Ms Tara Mullaney
Umeå Institute of Design; Umeå University; Umeå, Sweden


Understanding and Designing the Meal Experience and its Psychological Consequences
Prof Werner Sommer
Department of Psychology; Humboldt‐University; Berlin, Germany

Dr Felix Bröcker
Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces; Potsdam, Germany

Prof Manuel Martín‐Loeches
Psychobiology Department UCM & Center UCM-ISCIII for Human Evolution and Behaviour, Universidad Complutense; Madrid, Spain

Prof Annekathrin Schacht
CRC Text Structures; University of Goettingen; Goettingen, Germany

Prof Birgit Stürmer
General Psychology and Neurocognitive Psychology; International Psychoanalytic University; Berlin, Germany