2–5 February 2021


Student Forum

Sensory Design: Making sense of tensions, plurality and paradox in a culturally contested heritage site


Presenting Author(s): Kate Storey
05 February 2021

Please be aware that multiple presentations will take place during this session commencing at 05:30PM AEDT and share the same zoom link. Check how presentations are clustered in the program spreadsheet when adding the calendar.

My PhD focuses on the redesign of Montsalvat’s visitor and service experience. Montsalvat is, “historically, technically, architecturally, aesthetically, socially and spiritually significant”, (Willingham, 2010); however, visitors are unable to access its rich histories. The site is transitioning from an Artists Colony to an Arts Centre, it is a 'culturally contested heritage site' (Silverman, 2011).

In 2019, I began research with the community and ‘walked backwards into the future’ (Rameka, 2016). I dug up histories (Lindqvist, 1979) and translated them to sensory probes to ‘come to terms’ with the site, then used them in interviews and sensory walking research (Pink, 2007; O’Neil & Roberts 2020). I conducted authentic, ‘bottom-up’ participatory research (UN-Habitat, 2016) that was inclusive of all voices, to validated stories with the community. Together we transformed a messy, fractured-oral history into legible formats (Sandino, 2006). Artists profile posters created strong engagement across the community and became visible bridges into commonly understood pasts.

Archives are split, relationships are frayed and knowledge is lost. Analysing the community via Nardi & O’Day’s ‘Information Ecologies’ framework, helped me understand that establishing Montsalvat as a limited public company in 2007, was pivotal to today’s tension. This structure introduced a plurality of lens that have resulted in clashes over cultural practice, shared values and social meaning. The dissonance dislocates the ‘ecology’ (Nardi & O’Day, 1999) from Montsalvat’s cultural heritage, and paradoxically renders it unsustainable. Sensory design has supported a sensitive inquiry into a contested service landscape. It has encouraged empathy, openness, safety and trust at a time when tension, plurality and paradox were rife.

Europe (CET): 5th February 2021 7:30 am to 8:30 am

US (EST): 5th February 2021 1:30 am to 2:30 am

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Kate Storey
Kate Storey
RMIT University

Kate Storey is a PhD candidate with RMIT School of Design. Her PhD explores the development of visitor experiences in cultural heritage sites via the application of sensory design. The inquiry is supported by an Art History undergraduate and Masters of Design Futures.
Kate is a Human Centred Designer with strategic design, service design and design research experience. She has worked in the digital sector in the UK and Australia, across various industries and brands, before retraining as a Human Centred Designer.
Kate believes a designer’s role is to lead and facilitate change, via an ethical and values based practice; and that mindset and connection are key to encouraging humans to embrace change.
You can see more of her work here: https://www.boudicadigital.com.au/
Or connect here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katestorey/

Student Forum poster by Kate Storey