Concretizing the Material and Epistemological Practices of Unmaking in HCI

A Virtual Workshop at The 2022 ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing

April 21, 2022 [Fully Online]

Design is conventionally considered to be about making and creating new things. But what about the converse of that process – unmaking that which already exists? Researchers and designers have recently started to explore the concept of “unmaking” to actively think about important design issues like reuse, repair, and unintended socio-ecological impacts. They have also observed the importance of unmaking as a ubiquitous process in the world, and its relation to making in an ongoing dialectic that continually recreates our material and technological realms. Despite the increasing attention to unmaking, it remains largely under-investigated and under-theorized in design and HCI. The objectives of this workshop are therefore to:

(1) Bring together a community of researchers and practitioners who are interested in exploring or showcasing the affordances of unmaking

(2) Articulate the material and epistemological scopes of unmaking within design and HCI

(3) Reflect on frameworks, research approaches, and technical infrastructure for unmaking that can support its wider application in the field


We invite researchers, designers, scholars, and practitioners from a wide range of disciplines (HCI, architecture, engineering, STS, policy, etc...) to submit position papers, theoretical inceptions, design fictions, autoethnographic accounts, case-studies, videos, and illustrations that contribute to the abovementioned workshop objectives. Submissions can engage with (but are not limited to) one or more of the following themes:

Scope: Submissions can highlight explicit or implicit examples of unmaking in research, practice, design, or theory since it is often invisibilized or folded within the pretext of making, reforming, changing, etc.

Ontology: The literature on unmaking uses a variety of terms such as unmaking, undesigning, unfabricating, disassembly, destruction, and breaking etc. Further, unmaking is found in decay, breakdown, obsolescence, disaster, and ruin just as in smashing, dismantling, shattering, deleting, smashing, cancelling, discontinuing, burning down, letting-go, and many others. Submissions can engage with the language (and other ontological intricacies) of unmaking especially around how it might diverge from making.

Pragmatics: Submissions around pragmatics can touch on tools and theories that are needed, available, or must be developed for unmaking, relevant design values and methods, as well as the politics, complications, and guardrails

Logistical Details:

  • First round submission deadline: January 28, 2022 / Decision notification: February 11, 2022

  • Second round submission deadline: March 15, 2022 / Decision notification: March 21, 2022

  • Submissions should be sent to

  • Page limit: 6 pages (for text-base submissions)

  • Media-based submissions must be accompanied by some explanatory text

  • Template: All submissions must use the ACM Master Article Submission Templates, single column posted here:

Submissions will be selected based on quality, contribution to workshop themes, and the potential to stimulate discussions. Upon acceptance, at least one author must attend the workshop virtually, prepare a recorded video of the presentation with closed captions (or another format that can be shared), and register for both the workshop and for at least one day of the conference. Accepted pieces will be published on the workshop’s website.


8:00 - 8:20 | Welcoming notes

8:20 - 8:50 | Unmaking Experiences Panel

8:50 - 9:00 | Break and networking

9:00 - 9:40 | Participant Presentations #1

9:40 - 9:50 | Break

9:50 - 10:30 | Activity 1: Mapping out the scope of unmaking in HCI

10:30 - 11:30 | Break

11:30 - 12:10 | Participant Presentations #2

12:10 - 12:50 | Activity 2: Co-creating an unmaking dictionary for HCI

12:50 - 13:00 | Break

13:00 - 13:00 | Activity 3: Pragmatics discussion

14:00 - 15:00 | Putting it all together and closing remarks

*All times are in New Orleans, LA local time


  1. Stephen Cairns and Jane M. Jacobs. 2014. Buildings Must Die: A Perverse View of Architecture. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  1. Tony Fry. 2003. Why Philosophy?: The Voice of Sustainment. Design Philosophy Papers 1, 2 (April 2003), 83–90. Publisher: Routledge.

  1. Steven J. Jackson. 2014. Rethinking Repair. In Media Technologies, Tarleton Gillespie, Pablo J. Boczkowski, and Kirsten A. Foot (Eds.). The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, USA, 221–240.

  1. Kristina Lindström and Åsa Ståhl. 2020. Un/Making in the Aftermath of Design. In Proceedings of the 16th Participatory Design Conference 2020 - Participation(s) Otherwise - Volume 1(PDC ’20). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 12–21.

  1. Martin Murer, Anna Vallgårda, Mattias Jacobsson, and Manfred Tscheligi. 2015. Un-Crafting: Exploring Tangible Practices for Deconstruction in Interactive System Design. In Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction(TEI ’15). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 469–472. Navigate tocitation 1citation 2citation 3

  1. James Pierce. 2012. Undesigning technology: considering the negation of design by design. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems(CHI ’12). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 957–966.

  1. Katherine W Song and Eric Paulos. 2021. Unmaking: Enabling and Celebrating the Creative Material of Failure, Destruction, Decay, and Deformation. In Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems(CHI ’21). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 1–12.


Samar Sabie

Samar is a PhD candidate in Information Science at Cornell Tech, working at the intersection of HCI Critical Participatory Design (CPD), and STS. Her work investigates the role design as a socio-material practice plays in confronting difference within urban communities. Her dissertation argues that design driven by a making-unmaking dialectic can offer rich opportunities to further the ways for driving social change.

Katherine W. Song

Katherine is a PhD student in Computer Science at UC Berkeley specializing in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). She develops tangible interfaces and digital fabrication workflows that embrace smart materials and the themes of destruction, slowness, and sustainability.

Tapan Parikh

Tapan is an Associate Professor of Information Science at Cornell Tech in New York City. His research interests include human-computer interaction and the design and use of information technologies for youth and community development.

Steven J. Jackson

Steve is an Associate Professor of Information Science and STS at Cornell University. His work combines ethnographic, legal and theoretical traditions grounded in pragmatism, critical theory, and post-structuralism to investigate how people build and maintain order, value and meaning in the worlds around them. He has written extensively on problems of infrastructure, maintenance, repair, and hope.

Eric Paulos

Eric is an Associate Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at UC Berkeley, and the founder and director of the Hybrid Ecologies Lab. His areas of expertise span unmaking, critical making, urban computing, citizen science, collaborative consumption, robotics, and persuasive technologies.

Kristina Lindström

Kristina is a Senior Lecturer in design at the Malmö University School of Arts and Communication, Sweden. Her research spans participatory design, speculative design and feminist technoscience, with a focus on public engagement. She runs the Un/Making Studio with Åsa Ståhl, which explores alternatives to progressivist ways of thinking and making within design.

Åsa Ståhl

Åsa is a senior lecturer in design at Linnaeus University in Sweden and runs the Un/Making Studio with Kristina Lindström. She combines participatory design with feminist technoscience to explore and speculate about making liveable worlds particularly by producing and sharing surplus in and around domestic environments.

Dina Sabie

Dina is a PhD candidate in Computer Science at the University of Toronto. Her research explores the potential of design, digital technologies, and co-creative activities in supporting migrants’ emotional needs and enhance their relationships with the hosting communities.

Kristina Andersen

Kristina is an assistant professor at the Future Everyday cluster of the Department of Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Her work is concerned with how we can imagine futures through digital craftsmanship and collaborations with machines of production and fabrication. This is based on a research interest in human embodied creativity and collaborations with systems, materials, and emerging technologies.

Ron Wakkary

Ron is a professor of design in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University in Canada. Wakkary’s research investigates the changing nature of design in response to new understandings of human-technology relations and post-humanism. He aims to reflectively create new design exemplars, theory, and emergent practices to shape ways of designing that are more accountable, sustainable, and equitable.

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