DS 95: Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2019), University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. 12th -13th September 2019

Year: 2019
Editor: Bohemia, Erik; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Buck, Lyndon; Brisco, Ross; Evans, Dorothy; Grierson, Hilary; Ion, William; Whitfield, Robert Ian
Author: Sonneveld, Marieke
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Delft Universtity of Technology, Netherlands, The
Section: Ethics and Social Issues 2
DOI number:
ISBN: 978-1-912254-05-7


Medical technology focuses on improving human health and longevity, both in individual cases and overall as humankind. From an individual perspective medical technology focuses on prolonging life as much as possible, in the healthiest way. From the perspective of humankind, medical technology even allows us to question our mortality: could we become immortal by merging ourselves with technology? Thereby, from the individual and from the global perspective, (medical) technology asks us to question the existential aspects of our living, the meaning and quality of our life.

Palliative care, and hospice care, acknowledge death and dying as an integrated, meaningful part of life. Care in the final stage of life is concerned with providing comfort in the different domains of care: the physical, the social, the emotional and the existential. To support patients to live a life worth living to the end.

However, addressing mortality, death and dying in care as well as in individual private lives, is a difficult task; In professional as in personal settings, we tend to avoid the subject. Due to this ‘taboo’, we often don’t live the last stage of our lives the way we would have wanted to. Moreover, ‘a good death’ implies a good communication between all those involved, which is often not the case.

Design can play a powerful role in improving the quality of death and dying, by developing interventions in the different domains of palliative care: providing physical comfort for patients, taking care of, and facilitating the social interactions that matter, taking care of the emotional well being and supporting people in addressing the existential aspects of their life. Next, Design can be a powerful means to support the caregivers in the demanding task of taking care of the dying.

Due to the potential of Design for the End-of-Life care, the (Anonymous) Delft Design for End Life Lab was developed. In this lab design students and design researches join forces to explore how design can contribute to the quality of death and dying, thereby to the quality of life in its final stage.

This paper will introduce the Design fro End of Life lab as a research and education platform. It will describe the goal and the structure of the lab, the design education approach and the design research agenda.

The paper will present five finalized projects that cover the domain of palliative care, and will conclude on the lessons learned for the future development of the Design for End of Life Lab. It will illustrate how the projects changed perspectives on ethics in design(ing), on quality of life and on addressing sensitive topics in designing.

These lessons learned will be put in a broader perspective of the role of a dedicated design lab (end of loife) to design education: how a design lab focussed on a specific topic can change perspectives in design(ing).

Keywords: End-of-Life, Quality-of-Life, Design Reflection, Design Lab


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