Internship at RISE Interactive Stockholm

As part of my Final Master Project (thesis), I placed myself as an intern and informal ethnographic researcher at a design research studio in Stockholm. During the first five months of FMP project I placed myself as a design researcher within an organisation that was being merged into a greater organisational milieu that had different values and practices. I took the informal role of an ethnographer, soaking up the active clash between the structures, values, practices, ways of defining success etc. of both rationalities. I observed discussions, changes of processes, announcements and so forth.

I used my design skills to explore various means of scaffolding conversations with my coworkers. For example I constructed a physical version of the hour-logging software they used, as a means for critical reflection with them, and constructed new elements on the fly in order to get a better understanding of their situation and propose alternatives. I also designed a tool named “The Zapper” to allow members to “zap” whatever non-human object they thought was obstructing them in realising an authentic and manageable distribution of responsibility (something which they had previously all agreed to strive for).

Next to this, I helped to plan design activities and facilitate workshops for clients, R&D consortiums and organisations mainly for concept development and research & innovation purposes, did graphic work and presentations for communication of design processes to clients and participated in projects in different phases with the team of designers and managers.

An example showcasing this work is a set of role-plays that I designed to support an empathic stage of a workshop which I helped to design and facilitate together with three of my co-workers. These fictional experiences were inspired by real-life stories gathered from 14 hour-long, semistructured interviews that I held with various stakeholders in the health industry. The workshop was funded by EIT health in order to support multidisciplinary collaboration on projects funded by the EU. A summary of insights gained by participants as well as some key feedback can be found here.

Christina Ohman, business developer and studio director at the time evaluated my work as follows:

Maarten has developed and deepened design related skills and understanding of methods and practices in applied research. Specifically with focus on the grand challenges such as societal transformation, social innovation and health care. Through active participation in projects he has gained an understanding of the complexity of workshop design, execution, team work, work formats and customer relations, that have improved his skills as a designer working collaborative with high expectations and customer demands. He has gained insights and understanding of the complexity of operational structures and management within the organisation RISE which in relation to his major interest, has improved his analytical skills.

Maarten has proven full commitment to the job and tasks he has been assigned. He has with interest actively taken part in the every day work as well as in strategic discussions in design research. With his high ambitious and great analysis ability, and a professional manner he has not just contributed to the workplace he has indeed been part of developing it. Maarten has exceeded every expectation.”