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ONLINE Short Course: Human Centred Design for Artists (apply by 16 February)

16 to 25 February 2022

This short online course has been designed to introduce artists and other creative practitioners to the principles of human-centred design and think through how they can be used when developing participatory work or co-produced or community-led projects.


Friday 25 February, 11 March and 18 March, 10am–1pm + 1-2-1/group support (dates tbc with the group)


Human-centred design is equal parts a mindset and a process.

Embracing human-centred design means believing that all problems, even seemingly intractable ones are solvable. Human-centred design offers problem-solvers the chance to design with people, to deeply understand their perspectives and needs. At its most effective, the people who experience the problem are part of the design process, or the design team itself, resulting in co-design projects and solutions. Human-centred designers tinker and test, spending lots of time not knowing the answer – the mindset of a human-centred designer exhibits empathy, optimism, making, and learning from failure.

Human-centred design isn’t a perfectly linear process and each project has its own character but a human-centred designer will always build deep empathy with the people they’re designing with, figure out how to turn what they’ve learnt into a chance to design a new solution, and build and test ideas before putting them out into the world.


Through a mixture of masterclasses, practical workshops and 1-2-1 support from designers and artists you will be introduced to a human-centred design mindset, sharing processes and tools that you can use when designing your own creative projects. These may be responsive, where you are invited to make proposals or work with a clearly defined group or place, or might be projects that you are building from self-directed, creative research, perhaps working with a particular context or through being embedded in a specific community.

The course will support you to think through different ways to undertake creative ethnography, understand behaviours, and recognise and map assumptions. Participants will learn the difference between qualitative and quantitative research, and how you can map and group data and make sense of what you have found.

Across the course, you will be supported to take the knowledge away, apply it to your own project development and get feedback through 1-2-1 support and peer-to-peer sharing sessions.


Fan Sissoko

Fan Sissoko is a human-centred designer and researcher based in Reykjavik. She works with charities and the public sector to improve health, care and food systems. She is also an artist whose work revolves around storytelling. She has worked with organisations including Bright Harbour, Museum of London, Shift, Future Gov, Design Council, NEF Consulting, Digital Mums, Innovation Unit, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Lankelly Chase, User Voice, Postcode Films, Colour In City, Leap, Lambeth NHS, Carers Hub Lambeth, Soil Association and Food For Life.

Patrick Bek

Patrick Bek is a creative design strategist who helps people make sense of problems and create new things that have a positive impact in the world. His approach merges creativity, participation, and commerciality, and over the years he’s helped to develop products, brands, social ventures, and digital services for organisations including Barbican, Museum of London, Established and Sons, Shift, Wellcome, Guys and St Thomas’ Charity, and London Borough of Lambeth – he also works at STEAMhouse.

Iris Bertz

Starting out as an artist and creative practitioner Iris Bertz has used her skills of creative thinking since 1998 in developing workshops, training and consultancy in the UK & abroad. She has a passion for making connections, seeing potential, making projects happen and building cross-sector partnerships. She has run her consultancy since 2004 working on, running and initiating projects within the arts and education and European Exchange projects. 2020 she started not -for profit Bertz Associate to be able to create & commission partnership projects across the creative sector & heritage with a particular focus on developing young creatives and telling untold narratives. Bertz Associates has produced a number of significant projects throughout lockdown.

She is a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, member of the Lunar society, a fellow of Re: Present, Diverse Leadership, a fellow of Common Purpose & a member of STEAMhouse Birmingham.

Ruth Claxton

Ruth is an artist who makes things. Sometimes those things are artworks, exhibitions or public artworks and sometimes they are resources like the Birmingham Art Map, infrastructure like STEAMhouse or artist-run multiverses like Eastside Projects.


This workshop is fully funded as part of the STEAMhouse Create Programme. To take part you must be registered as self-employed or have your own business and be based in England. To be accepted onto the course you will have to provide a UTR number (if you are self-employed) or a Company Registration number.

To apply to take part please email the following to by Wednesday 16 February .

1. If you are not already a STEAMhouse member, please introduce yourself and let us know what you do, where you are based and state whether you are self-employed or have a company. Please include your UTR number or company number.

2. A short expression of interest (explaining why you want to take part in the workshop and how it will benefit your creative practice and/or business. We are looking for participants who have a clear sense of how they might apply the knowledge they will gain.

Please write “Human-Centred Design Course” in the subject header.





What is STEAMhouse Create?

STEAMhouse is a space to experiment, test and develop new knowledge. At the project’s heart are five key principles – conversation, exploration, collaboration, openness and newness. The STEAMhouse Create Programme is a free ERDF funded programme that supports resource-poor businesses to build digital skills and make their new product, project, or service ideas a reality.

Open since early 2018, STEAMhouse is powered by Birmingham City University, in partnership with Eastside Projects and funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The STEAMhouse Create Programme supports businesses, including self-employed, sole-trading artists, to test new ideas, prototype and make new products and services (which if you are an artist may be artworks) as well as explore the potential of digital technologies to help you collaborate and innovate.

In early 2022 STEAMhouse will move into the new, purpose-built Belmont Works building.

Find out more HERE