Initiating Participation: Methodological and Practical Challenges of Living Lab Projects for Early Stages of Research and Development
Involving people in research and design is a common goal of Living Lab projects. A growing body of work is critically investigating the meaning and quality of participatory methods, seeking to understand the foundations and implications of such user involvement. However, it is rarely addressed from a methodological point of view, how participation is initiated within a design process. The paper discusses practical challenges and methods for initiating participation in an early stage of design. We present the case of a »Social Living Lab« project for designing technology for older adults. Thereby we combined several methods of user involvement and outreach in the center of a mid-sized German city. By analyzing and reflecting our activities, we derive methodological implications for the ongoing debate on configuring participation through »Living Labs«.