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MFA Child Culture Design

Catherine Paterson

Lekkontoret: Designing an environment for participatory design projects between child and adult designers


I have designed a children’s design studio called Lekkontoret (Play Office). The studio is made up of both child and adult designers who work together to increase child influence and access in the city. We use participatory design practices and work towards achieving the goals set out by the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. My research project encompasses the design of the studio and its application within a case study. The office was tested on-site at Gathenhielmska Huset where 6 children between the ages of 3,5 and 4 worked with two adult designers to create a childrens programme for the house.

The design of the office was a result of the UNCRC being made law in Sweden. Lekkontoret takes Article 12 of the convention as a starting point, which outlines a child’s right to participate in society, express their views and have their opinions respected. I have used my position as a child culture designer to investigate the realities of child participation and to try to bridge the gap between law and practice in the implementation of Article 12. The 2009 revision of the article states that state parties, “should provide an environment that enables the child to exercise her or his right to be heard” (CRC, 2009). This has framed Lekkontoret’s main research question, which asks what the role and nature of this environment is and how it can be designed to facilitate democratic interactions between adult designers and children.

Lekkontoret i Gathenhielmska Huset: Video documentation of the project exhibition