PDC 2022 —
Phenomena: Co-Designing Planetary Care Through Joy


Many narratives about the future of our planet—whether through forecasting or science fiction—are often dystopian. Within this framework, fear becomes the catalyst for change. But how can we be certain that our solutions will lead to positive outcomes? PHENOMENA is a world-building tool and experience that approaches caring for our planet through the radical act of joy. This workshop fosters open collaboration among teams through PD approaches and situates playas central to the design process. It is intended to offer an alternative design methodology, establish meaningful connections with our planet, and democratize the pursuit of solving world problems. Workshop sessions are open to anyone interested in this topic, preferably those from interdisciplinary and multicultural backgrounds. Participants should be open to playing games and engaging in physical theatre within a group setting.


The workshop is designed to accommodate smaller groups from interdisciplinary backgrounds, up to 6 participants for each group, giving each participant ample time to contribute and collaborate.

The tool consists of the following parts:
          RECOLLECTION: Cards that recall personal experiences from the past
          DISCOVERY: Cards that discover new ideas within a set time in the future
          TOKENS: Hexagonal pieces that mark each turn on the map and on which important details are recorded
          DESIGN: Special tokens that initiate the design process for the present    

The workshop will begin with introductions by the facilitator and participants from the group. The facilitator will preface the tool by briefly explaining “world building” and “planetary care” under the context of this PD session.

HOUR ONE: Each participant will take turns drawing from the RECOLLECTION deck and responding to prompts provided, which are rooted in Stanislavski’s theatre techniques of emotion memory and method of physical action. Important details from the responses will be recorded on TOKENS and placed on the “map”(clusters of connected tokens).

HOUR TWO: The group will move on to the DISCOVERY deck. They will imagine their preferred futures using similar theatre techniques and the “Magic If,” which asks participants to experience future scenarios.


40-45 MIN: The group will design for the present by finding clusters of three or more connected tokens on the map. These clusters should include an IDEA token that will function as the goal of the design. Collectively, they will create concepts for planetary care using the surrounding tokens as key elements for their designs. These designs could feature aspects of technology, politics, sociology, biology, and other disciplines — depending on the backgrounds and expertise of the participants. The group will record their created concepts on the DESIGN tokens, which will be placed in the middle of their corresponding clusters. In the end, the facilitator will lead discussions on common and important themes found within their maps.

The virtual workshop will be held over Zoom during a time best suited for all the participants who will be located in various parts of the world. For this specific workshop, the facilitator will use the interactive digital version of the tool on Miro, an online visual collaborative platform.


The experience will be recorded through written documentation from the organiser of key themes and findings, as well as digital photographs of the final products (maps of group designs). The outcomes will then be uploaded to an online library, alongside other maps from past workshops, for research and educational purposes on planetary health and wellbeing, as well as on PD methods. There is a possibility to showcase outcomes from workshops at a design exhibition hosted by Prague City University in 2023 under the MA Future Design program.


PHENOMENA will be held in two sessions (approx. 3 hours each) at the Participatory Design Conference (PDC) 2022: online and in-person on August 30, 2022. Times are TBD. Space is limited, as the nature of this highly interactive workshop can only accommodate a small group. To register, please email with a short description about your professional/academic background, why you would like to participate, and whether you are joining in person or online. For conference registration details, please refer to the PDC conference website.


Ruth Guerra is a Filipino-American designer and researcher based in Prague, Czech Republic. She holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Sewanee: The University of the South. Currently, Ruth is pursuing her M.A. in Future Design at Prague City University, where she is developing a design methodology rooted in joy and play. Contact: