Living Labs pp 179-190 | Cite as

Participatory Drawing in Ethnographic Research

  • Flora BowdenEmail author
  • Dan Lockton
  • Rama Gheerawo
  • Clare Brass


The chapter reports on a participatory drawing research study conducted by the Royal College of Art within the SusLabNWE project. It sought to explore people’s notions of energy and to visualise their ideas and associations relating to it. The study is framed within the context of the broader ethnographic research tools that were employed by the SusLabNWE consortium. The study was conducted in three phases with visitors to the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design’s Life Examined exhibition at the Royal College of Art in September 2013; with students participating in the UK ArtScience Prize at The Silk Mill, Derby in April 2014; and with visitors to the Victoria and Albert Museum Digital Design Weekend in September 2014. Participants were offered drawing materials and asked to respond to the question: What does energy look like? In this chapter we discuss the outcomes of the research process, we analyse the images that were created and we explore what they tell us about the participants’ ideas about energy and what this could mean for energy visualisations.


Drawing Participation Energy Visualisation Ethnographic research 



Drawing Energy was a research study conducted by the Royal College of Art within the SusLabNWE project. The discussion of this research work presented here was originally published in Drawing Energy: Exploring Perceptions of the Invisible, an RCA publication produced on completion of the study. In this chapter we present our drawing study in the context of the ethnographic research methods utilised in the wider European project consortium.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Flora Bowden
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dan Lockton
    • 2
  • Rama Gheerawo
    • 2
  • Clare Brass
    • 1
  1. 1.SustainRCARoyal College of ArtLondonUK
  2. 2.Helen Hamlyn Centre for DesignRoyal College of ArtLondonUK

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