DI Webinar – Sara Nabil, Queen’s University

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Interioraction Design: Enriching experiences, Embellishing things, and Empowering people

How can technology enrich our experiences in everyday life without extra devices, gadgets or digital screens? Can our existing everyday objects, wearables and spaces be embedded with seamless sensing and morphological actuation? Everyday spaces often house numerous decorative objects, some of which are functional, but many of which are kept for purely aesthetic purposes. What if they can do more? What if interior spaces can interact with us, with the environment, or with each other? In my research, I explore and experiment with smart materials and e-textiles that can add interactivity, dynamic movements and ‘smartness’ to such objects. I also design and develop home decor that has interactive embellishment and can morph its appearance in response to user interaction. Moreover, I tackle research questions concerning how people perceive, interact and live with such ‘interioractive’ technology. My aim is to empower marginalized groups often missed from mass-produced tech and design ‘with’ them interactivities that support self-reflection, self- expression, and self-care.


Dr. Sara Nabil is an Assistant Professor of HCI at Queen’s University (Canada), an alumna of Newcastle University (UK), and head of the Interioraction Design Studio (iStudio) Lab. Previously, Dr. Nabil was a Postdoctoral Fellow at CIL (Creative Interactions Lab) in Carleton University looking into how technology can support people’s well-being including Repetitive Strain Injuries, mobile and visual impairments. Sara did her PhD at OpenLab where her research integrated interior design with interaction design, using soft sensors, fabric circuits, e-textiles and smart materials that are malleable, shape-changing and colour-changing. Her innovative techniques and digital fabrication methods facilitate the design of everyday computational objects, wearables, surfaces and spaces in calm and ubiquitous technology. Her work aims to support the living quality of marginalized groups such as refugees, individuals with dual-identities, and people with physical disabilities. She also serves as the Diversity and Inclusion Chair of both TEI2021 and the upcoming MobileHCI2022, and the online Accessibility Chair for TEI2022. She has carried out in-the-wild fieldwork in public spaces, design studios, galleries, museums and refugee camps, and has written on Human-Building Interaction (HBI), Interactive Architecture, and Interactive Interior Design, or what she coined as ‘Interioraction’. Her current work explores the interface between physical computing, wearables, interiors, art, and architecture. In 2016, Sara was awarded the ‘Best Design Award’ by the Great North Museum, and in 2021, she was shortlisted for the international Interactions Design Award. Sara’s interactive prototypes have been displayed at a number of exhibitions including the 2018 ‘London Design Festival’, ‘Living with Adaptive Architecture’ (Lakeside Arts Gallery, UK 2018), the ‘Immersive Hive’ (Great North Museum, UK 2018), and the ‘Carleton Community Art Exhibition’ (CUAG, Canada 2020).

Twitter: @SaraKhNabil @iStudio_Lab
Website: https://istudio.cs.queensu.ca/