Abigail C Durrant by Sarah Atkinson Photography 2019

Abigail Durrant

I’m Professor in the School of Design at Northumbria University, in the CoCreate group, predominantly working in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) as an interaction designer and researcher. I teach and mentor students at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and manage UKRI-funded research projects.

Abigail C Durrant by Sarah Atkinson Photography 2019


I am primarily interested in how digital interactions shape ideas of selfhood, wellbeing, inclusion, and futures.


My longstanding curiosity is in the design-led study of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) from social, cultural and critical perspectives. This is grounded in my interdisciplinary career spanning the arts, humanities and social sciences.  I previously worked at Open Lab, Newcastle University (formally the Digital Interaction group at Culture Lab), and, before that, at the University of Nottingham (in the Mixed Reality Lab and Horizon Research Institute).


I have a first class Bachelors degree in Fine Art from Newcastle, a Masters degree in Interaction Design (IXD) from the Royal College of Art (RCA) and I completed my (part time) doctorate in Social Psychology at the University of Surrey (Microsoft Research European PhD Scholarship Programme) in 2011. I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


I directed an IXD research consultancy for 16 years (2001 - 2017). My professional design experience extends across industry, academia and the public sector. In commercial design research, I have drawn upon my expertise in ethnography, film making, conceptual design and visual communication to deliver research understanding, strategic directions and possible futures for technology innovation in Healthcare, Consumer Goods, Entertainment, Telecommunications and Government. This work involved managing transnational research projects in the UK and US.


My academic research addresses the significant design challenges that we face for managing identity in our everyday interactions with digital technologies and personal data. I have explored the digital representation of selfhood in the context of family relationships and legacies, major life transitions, memorialisation and cultural visiting, human rights media, and personal identity management. I am particularly interested in the health implications of managing digital identities, and the value of engaging intergenerational perspectives in research.


My approach is creative, practice-based and interdisciplinary, using design to critically understand and communicate ideas and experiences. I’m a passionate advocate of dissemination platforms supporting ‘research through design’. I have specialist applied skills in computer-related design and experience-centred approaches to HCI research. My core design expertise is bolstered by my doctorate in developmental social psychology, reflecting a research sensibility that addresses how our digital and social worlds interconnect.


I have significant demonstrators of impact in terms of funding, publications, and services to academic communities.  I am Principal Investigator of EPSRC 'INTUIT: Interaction Design for Trusted Sharing of Personal Health Data to Live Well with HIV' project (EP/R033900/1), which formally commenced in November 2018 and is 30 months in duration: www.intuitproject.org


I am also currently Co-Investigator (Co-I) of EPSRC 'Playing out with IOT' (EP/P025544/2), which commenced in 2017: www.playout.digital. I have a longstanding interest in conducting Interaction Design research with children with a focus on supporting their well being, creativity, and self-expression.


I recently completed the Leverhulme Fellowship (ECF-2012-642) in December 2017. I was previously Co-I at Newcastle University on an EPSRC 'Charting the Digital Lifespan (CDL)' project (EP/L00383X/1), and was previously Researcher Co-Investigator on EPSRC 'Scaling the Rural Enterprise' (EP/J000604/1). I was Co-Investigator on a project internally funded by Newcastle Institute of Creative Arts Practice (NICAP), and an Innovation Pilot for Creative Fuse North East, in collaboration with NICAP and partner organisations.


I actively contribute to a number of academic communities, including SIGCHI Conferences and the Design Research Society (DRS) Conference. I am a Steering Committee member for the biennial RTD Conference series (and was previously General Chair of RTD 2015). I am also a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and Reviewer for EPSRC.


I currently supervise 7 PhD students, and mentor a number of undergraduate and postgraduate students in Design, Digital Media, and Human-Computer Interaction.  I have 3 PhD completions to date. I teach the following subjects at both undergraduate and postgraduate level: Interaction Design, Creative Arts Practice, and Research Methods including Design Ethnography, and Using Film and Video for Design Research. I am Co-Lead (with colleague John Vines) of the 'Co-Create' research strand within the University's strategic IDEATE theme, aiming to deliver design-led research and innovation grounded in participatory methods.


I am Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Design and Lead for the Athena Swan initiative in our School, to promote the advancement of gender equality, diversity and inclusion at work.


I am currently external examiner for the Digital Design BSc course in the School of Computing and Information Science, University Limerick (2017 - 2021), I have conducted a Curriculum Review for University of Brighton (Product Design BA courses), I have been External Examiner for five doctoral vivas in the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Ireland, plus Internal Examiner for doctoral vivas at Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria.


I work part time and have taken two periods of Maternity Leave in recent years, between July 2015 and April 2016, and June 2012 to February 2013.  And it has been worth it to have my two occasionally entertaining children.

Selected Publications

Dylan, T., Wood, G., Durrant, A. C., Vines, J., Torres, P. E., Ulrich, P., Cukurova, M., Çerçi, S., Lawson, S. (2020) ‘Designing IoT Resources to Support Outdoor Play for Children’. Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2020). In Press.

Encinas, E., Durrant, A. C., Mitchell, R., Blythe, M. (2020) 'Metaprobes, Metaphysical Workshops and Sketchy Philosophy’. Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2020). In Press.

Claisse, C., Petrelli, D., Ciolfi, L., Dulake, N., Marshall, M., Durrant, A. C. (2020) ‘Crafting Critical Heritage Discourses into Interactive Exhibition Design’. Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2020). In Press.

Dylan, T., Durrant, A., Wood, G., Çerçi, S., Downey, Scott, J., Vines, J., Lawson, S. (2019) ‘Play Poles: Towards IoT Resources for Outdoor Play’. Proceedings of the 2019 on Designing Interactive Systems Conference, 1293-1305.

Spaa, A., Durrant, A., Elsden, C., Vines, J. (2019) 'Understanding the Boundaries between Policymaking and HCI'. In Proceedings of the 2019 ACM Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2019), New York: ACM Press.

Wood, G., Dylan, T., Durrant, A. et al. (Forthcoming) 'Designing for Digital Playing Out'. In Proceedings of CHI 2019, ACM Press.

Spaa, A.,Wakkary, R., Frens, J., Durrant, A., Vines, J. 7½ and Weekend Alarm: Designing Alarm Clocks for the Morality of Sleep and Rest In Proceedings of Research Through Design (RTD) 2019, TU Delft 2019.

Whitham, R., Moreton, S., Speed, C., Durrant, A. (2019) Understanding, capturing and assessing value in collaborative design research. CoDesign, 13(4).

Durrant, A. C., and Taylor, A. S. (2018) 'Modelling cells in risky comakings and devious worlds'. In Proceedings of EASST 2018 - Making Science, Technology and Society Together, European Association for the Study of Science and Technology.

Durrant, A. C., Moncur, W. M., Kirk, D. S., Trujillo Pisanty, D., Taylor, R., Orzech, K. (2018) ‘Rich pictures for stakeholder dialogue: A polyphonic picture book’. Design Studies (Special DRS 2016 50th Anniversary Section), Elsevier.

Durrant, A. C., Kirk, D. S., Trujillo-Pisanty, D., Martindale, S. (2018) ‘Admixed Portrait: Design to Understand Facebook Portrayals in New Parenthood’. In Proceedings of the 2018 ACM Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2018), ACM Press.

Durrant, A. C. and Kirk, D. S. (2018) 'On Ethical Responsiveness: Being Answerable to Others as an HCI Researcher'. Interacting with Computers, Oxford University Press.

Durrant, A. C., Golembewski, M., Kirk, D. S. (2018) Sketching the Polyphonic Design Space of Theme Parks. In Funology 2.0. Springer International Publishing.

Kirk, D. S., Durrant, A. C., Kosem, J., Reeves, S. (2018) 'Spomenik: Resurrecting Voices in the Woods'. In Mortality and Design— a special issue. Design Issues, 34(1), MIT Press.

Orzech, K. M., Moncur, W., Durrant, A., Trujillo-Pisanty, D. (2018) 'Opportunities and challenges of the digital lifespan: views of service providers and citizens in the UK'. Information, Communication & Society, 21 (1), pp. 14-29. DOI: 0.1080/1369118X.2016.1257043

Durrant, A. C., Vines, J., Wallace, J., Yee, J. R. (2017) ‘Editorial: Research through Design: Makers and MaterialitiesDesign Issues, 33(3), MIT Press.

Elsden, C., Durrant, A. C., Chatting, D., Kirk, D. (2017) Designing Documentary Informatics. In Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS '17), ACM Press, 649-661.

Orzech, K. M., Moncur, W., Durrant, A. C., James, S., Collomosse, J. (2017) 'Digital photographic practices as expressions of personhood and identity: variations across school leavers and recent retirees'. Visual Studies 32 (4), 313-328.

Durrant, A. C., Kirk, D. S., Trujillo Pisanty, D., Moncur, W., Orzech, K., Schofield, T., Elsden, C., Chatting, D., Monk, A. (2017) 'Transitions in Digital Personhood: Online Activity in Early Retirement'. In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017), ACM Press, 6398-6411.

Elsden, C., Chatting, D., Durrant, A. C., Nissen, B., Garbett, A., Vines, J., Kirk, D.S. (2017) 'On Speculative Enactments'. In Proceedings of CHI 2017, ACM Press, 5386-5399.

Durrant, A., Kirk, D. S., Wallace, J., Bowen, S., Reeves, S., Ljungblad, S. (2017) 'Problems in Practice: Understanding Design Research by Critiquing Cases'. In Proc. of CHI 2017, ACM, 636-643.

Elsden, C., Durrant, A., O'Kane, A., Marshall, P., Fleck, R., Rooksby, J., Lupton, D. (2017) 'Quantified Data & Human Relationships'. In Proc. of CHI 2017, ACM, 644-651.

Bowen, S., Durrant, A., Nissen, B., Bowers, J. & Wright, P. (2016) ‘The Value of Designers’ Creative Practice within Complex Collaborations’. Design Studies, 46, 174-198

Elsden, C., Selby, M., Durrant, A., Kirk, D.S. 'Fitter, happier, more productive: what to ask of a data-driven life?' Interactions, 23 (5), pp. 45-45.

Durrant, A. C., Trujillo Pisanty, D., Kirk, D.S., Moncur, W., Orzech, K. (2016) On presenting a rich picture for stakeholder dialogue.  In: P. Lloyd & E. Bohemia, eds., Proceedings of DRS2016: Design + Research + Society - Future-Focused Thinking, Volume 6, pp. 2183-2202, DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.169

Kirk, D.S., Durrant, A.C., Leong, T., Wood, G., Wright, P.C. 'Understanding the Sociality of Experience in Mobile Music Listening with Pocketsong'. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS '16). ACM Press, New York, 50-61

Elsden, C., Durrant, A. C. Kirk, D. (2016) 'It's Just my History, Isn't It?: Understanding Smart Journaling Practices'. Proc. of ACM Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) 2016, ACM, 2819-2831

Durrant, A., Vines, J., Wallace, J., Yee, J. (2015) 'Developing a Dialogical Platform for Disseminating Research through Design'. Constructivist Foundations 11(1)

Durrant, A. C., Trujillo Pisanty, D., Moncur, W., Orzech, K. Charting the Digital Lifespan: A Picture Book. Newcastle University ISBN 978-0-7017-0250-2

Elsden, C., Kirk, D., Durrant, A. (2015) 'A Quantified Past: Towards Design for Remembering with Personal Informatics'. Human-Computer Interaction.  DOI:10.1080/07370024.2015.1093422

Wallace, J., Yee, J., Durrant, A. (Eds.) (2015) 'Visual/Textual: documenting the realities of research through design practice'. Studies in Material Thinking, Volume 13

Rowland, D., Durrant, A., Clarke, R. (2015) Interactions GalleryProceedings of the 2015 British HCI Conference, 309-309

Chen, S., Bowers, J., Durrant, A. (2015) 'Ambient walk': a mobile application for mindful walking with sonification of biophysical data. Proceedings of the 2015 British HCI Conference, 315-315

Kazakos, K, Kirk, D., Durrant, A., Chatting D., Yurman, P. Bichard, J., Paik, J. (2015) 'Design-Led Inquiry for Mobile Lives'. Proceedings of ACM Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '15), 2393-2396

Collomosse, J., James, S., Durrant, A., Trujillo-Pisanty, D., Moncur, W., Orzech, K. M., Martindale, S., Chantler, M. (2014) 'Enhancing Digital Literacy by Multi-modal Data Mining of the Digital Lifespan'. In Proceedings of the Digital Economy All Hands Conference (DE2014)

Durrant, A., Hook, J., McNaney, R., Williams, K., Smith, T., Stockman, T., Olivier, P. (2014) 'Interpersonal expression in the special educational needs classroom: An experience-centred design study'. In International Journal of Child Computer Interaction DOI: 10.1016/j.ijcci.2014.06.002

Trujillo-Pisanty, D., Durrant, A., Martindale, S., James, S., Collomosse, J. (2014) ‘Admixed Portrait: Reflections on Being Online as a New Parent’. In Proceedings of Designing Interactive Systems (DIS’14), ACM Press, 503-512

Hook, J., Verbaan, S., Durrant, A., Wright, P., Olivier, P. (2014) ‘A Study of the Challenges Related to DIY Assistive Technology in the Context of Children with Disabilities’. In Proc. of DIS ’14, ACM Press, 597-606

Durrant, A., Kirk, D. & Reeves, S. (2014) ‘Human Values in Curating a Human Rights Media Archive’. In Proceedings of CHI ’14, ACM Press, 2685-2694. Awarded Best Paper (+ top ranking paper that year)

Wallace, J., Yee, J. & Durrant, A. (2014) ‘Reflections on a Synergistic Format for Disseminating Research Through Design’. In Proc. of CHI EA ’14, ACM Press, 781-792

Martindale, S. & Durrant, A. (2013) ‘Design Fictions: Future Technology in Diegetic Worlds’. In Proc. of Praxis and Poetics: Research Through Design (RTD’13), Northumbria University press ISBN 978-0-9549587-9-4

McNaney, R., Balaam, M., Marshall, K., Durrant, A., Read, J., Good, J., Robertson, J., Abowd, G. (2013) ‘Designing for and with children with special needs in multiple settings’. Proceedings of 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC’13), ACM Press, 603-605

Durrant, A., Hook, J., McNaney, R., Williams, K., Smith, T., Kipling, M., Stockman, T. Olivier, O. (2013) ‘Design to Support Interpersonal Communication in the Special Educational Needs Classroom’. In Proc. of Interaction Design for Children (IDC) 2013. ACM Press, 46-55 Awarded Best Paper

Wessels, B., Anderson, B., Durrant, A., Ellis, J. (2012) ‘Mediating genocide: Cultural understanding through digital and print media stories in global communication. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics 8 (2-3). Intellect Press, 2-3

Anstead, E., Durrant, A., Benford, S., Kirk, D. (2012) ‘Tabletop games for photo consumption at theme parks’. In Proc. of 2012 ACM Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces (ITS’12). ACM Press, 61-70

Odom, W., Banks, R., Durrant, A., Kirk, D. Slow Technology: Critical Reflection and Future Directions. In Proc. of 2012 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS ‘12). ACM Press, 816-817

Merritt, S., Durrant, A., Reeves, S., & Kirk, D. (2012) ‘In Dialogue: Methodological Insights on Doing HCI Research in Rwanda. In Proc. of CHI’ 12. ACM Press, 661-676. Received Honorary Mention

Durrant, A., Kirk, D., Benford, S., and Rodden, T. (2012) ‘Pursuing Leisure: Reflections on Theme Park Visiting’. Computer-Supported Collaborative Work: Journal of Collaborative Computing, 21 (1), 43-79

Durrant, A., Golembewski, M., Kirk, D., Benford, S. (2011) ‘Exploring a Digital Economy Design Space in Theme Parks’. In Proc. 2nd International Conference on Creativity & Innovation in Design (DESIRE’11). ACM Press, 273-284

Durrant, A., Frohlich, D., Sellen, A., Uzzell, D. (2011) ‘The Secret Lives of Teens: Online and Offline Photographic Displays at Home’. Visual Studies 26 (2), 113-124

Durrant, A., Rowland, D., Kirk, D., Benford, S., Fischer, J., Mcauley, D. (2011) ‘Automics: Souvenir Generating Photoware for Theme Parks’.  In Proc. of CHI’11. ACM Press, 1767-1776. Awarded Best Paper (top 1% of submissions)

Dingwall, R., Goulden, M., Reeves, S., Durrant, A. (2011) Envisioning the Digital Economy. In Proc. of Digital Economy All Hands Meeting – Digital Engagement, Newcastle.

Kirk, D. S., Durrant, A., Reeves, S. (2011) Rwanda: Memorialisation in the Digital Economy. In Proc. of Digital Economy All Hands Meeting – Digital Engagement, Newcastle.

Flintham, M., Reeves, S., Durrant, A., (2011) Creating an Outside Broadcast of a Marathon. In Proc. of Digital Economy All Hands Meeting – Digital Engagement, Newcastle.

Durrant, A. (2011) Family Portrayals: Design to Support Intergenerational  Relationships in the Family Home. University of Surrey.

Rowland, D., Durrant, A., Kirk, D., Benford, S. & Mcauley, D. (2010) ‘Automics: Assisted Mobile Authoring of Photostories as Souvenirs of A Day in the Park’. In Proc. of Digital Economy All Hands Meeting – Digital Futures, Nottingham

Kirk, D., Reeves, S. & Durrant, A. (2010) 'Spomenik: Augmenting Memorials in the Woods'. In Proc. of Digital Economy All Hands Meeting – Digital Futures, Nottingham

Durrant, A., Frohlich, D., Sellen, A. & Lyons, E. (2009) ‘Home Curation versus Teen Photography: Photo Displays in the Family Home’. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 67 (12), 1005-1023

Durrant, A., Taylor, A.S., Frohlich, D., Sellen, A., Uzzell, D. (2009) ‘Photo Displays and Intergenerational Relationships in the Family Home. In Proc. of Human Computer Interaction (HCI ’09). ACM Press, 10-19. Archival Highlight Award

Durrant, A., Taylor, A.S., Taylor, S., Molloy, M., Sellen, A., Frohlich, D., Gosset, P., Swan L. (2008) ‘Speculative Devices for Photo Display’. In Proc. of CHI 2008. ACM Press, 2297-2302

Lindley, S.E., Durrant, A., Kirk, D. & Taylor, A.S. (2008) ‘Collocated Social Practices Surrounding Photos’. Proc. of CHI 2008. ACM Press, 3921-3924

Taylor, A.S., Swan, L. & Durrant, A. (2007) ‘Designing Family Photo Displays’. Proc. of European Conference of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (ECSCW ’07). Springer Publications, 79-88

Durrant, A. (2007) ‘Designing Photographic Experiences to Support Autobiographical Memory’. In Proceedings of Creativity & Cognition (C&C ’07). ACM Press, 281

Peters, M., Haynes, S., Saab, D., Mentis, H., Durrant, A. (2007) ‘Exploring Design as a Research Activity’. In Proc. of CHI’07, Ext. Abstracts. ACM Press, 2861-2864

Metaprobes, Metaphysical Workshops and Sketchy Philosophy