Kind Design and Circular Design


‘Is it kind?’ was the theme of this year’s International Design Day, which celebrates the importance of design in improving our daily lives. In tribute to humanitarian designer Rob L. Peters, it brings a new standard to design – the standard of kindness – emphasising the importance of measuring design by its positive impact on the world, by the duty to care for people and their relationships. This ethical and deontological approach inspired me to write about a new perspective and paradigm shift in design, ‘kind design’, which, together with ‘circular design’, translates into a vision of the world that…
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What about duties?


We talk about children’s rights and the voices the old Man of Belem echo, dreading the conversation and asking “what about duties?”. Today I’m questioning the duty of adults to respect and promote children’s rights. Rights and duties are not mutually exclusive and are interrelated. We must convey to children their responsibility, at home, at school and in society, setting an example of respecting them as full people with autonomy in line with their rights. According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a child is “any person under the age of 18”. It is…
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Children’s Rights, Guidance and the EU AI Act


With the 50th anniversary of the April Revolution in Portugal and the results of the elections, it is inevitable to reflect upon the role of the rule of law in protecting and promoting human rights, particularly those of children. In 1986 Portugal took an important step in joining the European Community, and in 1989 world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which has been in force since 1990. The document recognises children as subjects of rights and childhood as a special and protected period…
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Creatives and creators: empowering kids through tech


March is Women’s History Month, of the struggle for equal rights. My grandmother, who grew up as the daughter of a primary school headmistress in Porto, at the beginning of the 20th century, used to tell me about her challenges: under the dictatorship, in order to vote she needed my grandfather’s consent. Despite progress, there are still major challenges: the gender pay gap and access to equal professional opportunities.  The impact of gender stereotypes Society is systemically impregnated with gender stereotypes, even in research methodologies and product design. In his book “User Research with Kids”, Snitker examines the influence of…
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Children, activism and digital propaganda


As I pronounced the word “Propaganda” I’ve sparked a great deal of interest in my daughter. It’s a complex concept, capable of shaping contemporary social narratives. Understanding it is vital for democracy. During elections, propaganda emerges in conversations; outside of political periods, the topic is relegated to historical contexts. However, propaganda, or the deliberate propagation of ideas with the aim of influencing and manipulating public opinion, has found new ways of acting in digital media. Digital propaganda exists in advertising content and social networks, using technologies such as artificial intelligence to create synthetic images, audio and videos, resulting in deepfakes…
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Artificial Intelligence for Children


A few days ago, I was approached by a tech startup in London to lead a team building workshop on Child-Centred Design. Their mission is to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions with a “child first” approach. The company offers assisted therapy for children with SLC needs (Speech, Language, and Communication needs), combined with at home practice, and aims to democratise access to this kind of therapy as it continues to be a huge challenge in the National Health Service in the UK (NHS), causing significant distress for children and their parents. These AI applications boost children’s development by using speech…
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Child-first internet at home


The online world has as many risks as opportunities. Safer Internet Day, supported by the European Commission, stands as a global initiative to raise awareness about online safety, foster digital literacy, and encourage responsible use of technologies by children, teenagers and families. Every year in February, various organisations such as governments, NGOs, industry leaders, educators and researchers unite to identify challenges, share the “state of the art” and develop strategies for a safer digital environment. Our influence on children’s digital lives goes far beyond parental controls or screen time limits. We have the opportunity to establish a safer internet at…
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Podcast episode on co-creation and design activism ‘Designing for Children’s Best’🎧


On World Children’s Day in Porto, more than 250 children and teenagers, between the ages of 4 and 16 co-created a large graphical message on public space. A 40 meters long sentence “WE HAVE RIGHTS, WE DESIGN THE FUTURE” created by a class of 16-year-olds in collaboration with a public art school, communicates a clear and impactful statement about children’s rights and their role in shaping the future. We invited children aged 4 to 12 to add their messages and graphics to the collective art piece, empowering them to express their thoughts, opinions, and feelings on the ground, in chalk,…
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Design Activism and Co-Creation: WE HAVE RIGHTS, WE DESIGN THE FUTURE


“The goal of Design is to raise the expectation of what design can be.” Paula Scher’s perspective reflects the evolving nature of design. As technology advances and cultural contexts change, design is challenged to adapt and remain relevant.  Beyond a problem-solving discipline, Design is a transformative means of sharing the world we live in, raising new questions and being closer to the ideal worlds we imagine.  The advent of new tools and technologies, including AI-generated content, has undoubtedly made a significant impact on the creative industries. Furthermore, the post-pandemic era has brought about profound changes in society. These changes have…
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Designing for Children’s Rights Porto Chapter


Designing for Children’s Rights is an international non-profit association engaged in integrating children’s rights into design and business development around the world. D4CR operates in different cities and continents – Helsinki, Berlin, Tel Aviv,  Malmö, New York, London, Adelaide, Los Angeles, Netherlands, Scotland, Italy, France, and Portugal. The association creates awareness about the importance of keeping children’s rights in mind when building products and services, refining a new standard for both design and business to direct the development towards products and services that have ethics and children’s best interests at their core.  D4CR created the Designing for Children’s Rights Guide,…
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Open-ended designs


According to Bruno Munari in his book "Da cosa nasce cosa", games and toys must stimulate imagination, they cannot be completed or finished, otherwise, users will not be able to be involved, to participate. For the ideal toy to be understood by the child, it must be clear to him or her immediately without any explanation: what it is and how it works. Open-ended is an object or equipment used by the child which doesn't have a predetermined use or follow rules or conventions. Leaving all the decision-making up to children allows them to make choices, create a personalised play, and attach meaning to the designs. As a result of open-ended designs, children can create their own rules, goals, and meanings. Their cognitive skills are stretched and their independence is supported by self-regulation and self-discovery.
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Children as co-designers and co-researchers


Adults' and children’s cognitive abilities are different. Children think differently than adults, the way they see the world is different, they don't think about constraints such as time or costs, or safety, all ideas are valid from the beginning, and their unbiased creativity potentiates the idea generation. Not that those concerns aren’t valid but it limits creativity and therefore hinder the design process. Engaging children as stakeholders in the design process brings positive outcomes such as valuable end-users insights and user engagement, idea-generation and rapid concept development, new knowledge acquisition, innovative design solutions, social and emotional inclusion, new domains of collective creativity, and more sustainable ways of living.
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Spatial design and the lockdown


In the last two years, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve spent a lot of time indoors and our environments have become increasingly more relevant. All of us like to be in clean, organised, and well-lit places. To create an orderly preschooler workspace and address effective learning it's important to give them a strategically organised space, preferentially with good sunlight and proportional furniture where they can feel safe on their own, while we keep observing from a distance and give assistance when needed. Natural materials and textures, like wood, are preferred, as they enhance haptic experiences and develop brain connections.
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Child-centered design


Child-Centered Design is creating solutions for children using the HCD approach. A child-centered design approach is understanding children as social agents and active participants in society, as experts of their own experiences. The design process engages children with tangible, appealing and playful activities and allows them to create and imagine, providing them with opportunities to learn social interaction through positive recognition. In child-centered design the child is considered an equal and active actor, the process interlinks service design, children's rights and positive recognition and child-orientated approach.
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Drawing skills


Everything you need to draw can be deconstructed into five basic shapes: a line, a square, a circle, a triangle and a "blob" says Dan Roam, author of "The Back of a Napkin" a book about visual thinking with the focus on solving problems with pictures/drawings.

Drawing is a natural process for children, it is a form of communication and a way of expressing their feelings and understanding of the world around them.
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