Blog 8: Potential design proposals – Asylum seekers and refugees

When I said in blog post 9 (yes I did write 9 before 8) that this was the first step into creating, I did not realise what a painful step it would be. Anyway, here are some potential ideas that really do need a lot more development.

My problem statement is really no longer solidified. As I was exploring design responses I broke my statement up into two ‘how’ questions. I found that this structure prompted more solution based ideas (thanks for the tip Chloe’s blog post!).

‘How can we make the representation of refugees and asylum seekers less dehumanizing?’
‘How can we change the detached perception of refugees common in our age group?’


  1. People and Objects
    This idea was inspired by the presence of objects as actors in the second round of our mindmaps. I propose a series of annotations/signage on objects that have significance in refugee’s stories. These objects could be displayed as an exhibition or just situated in an environment like uni allowing for more of an organic discovery.Visualising data in this way allows for simple and tangible interactions that can be more memorable. Siobhan suggested bringing a more humanising element into this visualisation, which could potentially be a prompt to discuss the refugee’s story further on their social media? Not sure about how to achieve this at the moment.
  2. Words and Images
    We are almost purely informed on the refugee and asylum seeker issue by the media. Therefore a lot of my research has been focused on language in the media. This includes words and images.However as was discussed last lesson, a lot of these words and images often have negative connotations and reinforce a detached and unempathetic view on asylum seekers and refugees (i.e. using ‘terrorist’ repeatedly as a descriptor or images of refugees behind tall fences). I propose an add-on to your browser (not sure if this is generative or service design) that highlights instances of these words and images in online content that you see about refugees and asylum seekers.Keeping us aware of how refugees and asylum seekers are represented is significant as one can easily fall into easy consumption information without critical thinking in the digital age.
  3. Phone Pen pals
    Person to person communication with refugees and asylum seekers could be said to be the most effective way to humanise them. With asylum seekers and refugees that are physically unreachable, digital communication can be a good alternative.However, it can sometimes be difficult for asylum seekers to access technology. I propose a service that allows young people to donate their old phones/ipads to asylum seekers and refugees.I understand that people in my target age groups often switch to new models of their electronics but often feel guilty/unsure about throwing away their old models. An app on the phone would facilitate communication between the donor and receiver, creating a bond of support between the two parties.An object that holds a lot of memories and meaning for one person being passed onto another is an excellent way of creating bonds. This idea was inspired by the Sisterhood of Travelling Pants, which is scientific proof of how relationships can be strengthened with a shared object.
  4. Tell your friends
    From my primary research I discovered that the level of understanding that someone in my target age group has of refugees and asylum seekers is often dependent on their friends. I recall Josh saying that “all his friends were dumb” so he did not see a lot of content on social media about refugees and asylum seekers. Similarly, Matt saw content because our friend Rehka liked an article on Facebook relating to that issue.I also remember being able to pay a certain amount of money on Facebook that allows your content to reach the top of all your friends newsfeed. I propose an add-on that works in collaboration with social media. Interesting articles relating to refugees that you feel are truely significant would be promoted to all of your friends without interruptions from Facebook algorithms.This form of ulterior motivation from peers would hopefully encourage a less detached and more empathetic & engaged perception of refugees. However I feel like this technology could probably be very easily abused hmm…