can cultural probes access the 'potential space'?
Benevolent Spaces

Benevolent spaces is a research into the interaction between physical, exterior spaces and mental, interior spaces. The Digital Probe Kit was developed to elicit the quality of this interaction with design students. Through exercises which show appropriation and perception, the participants reflected on their own relationship with their workspace. This brought about new insights on three different levels. Firstly on individual reflection, secondly on spatial benevolence, and lastly about the value and theory of cultural probes in design.

  • client Annie Gentes
    CoDesign Lab, Télécom Paris
  • February - July 2020
Our relationship with the world is organised by intermediated spaces that structure both our inner and outer world at the same time (Belin, 1999). This transitional area, which is an interplay between our minds and the world, allows for creativity. It also enforces the mediatory role of design: being tangible as well as carriers of the imaginary allow us to create worlds, or landscapes, in between (Winnicott, 1971).

Cultural probes (Gaver et al., 1999) are a means of gathering qualitative data. Through self-reporting, participants respond to open-ended activities. It gathers the users’ perception, involving their emotions and feelings. Probes provide designers with insights on the users’ experience of their daily lives and environment.


Belin, E. (1999). De la bienveillance dispositive:(Extrait de sa thèse de sociologie, choisi et présenté par Philippe Charlier et Hugues Peeters). In Hermès (Paris. 1988), 1999, 25, fascicule thématique” Le dispositif: entre usage et concept”--Dispositif et médiation des savoirs. Colloque international, Louvain-la-Neuve, BEL, 1998-04-24. CNRS Editions, Paris (FRA).

Gaver, W. W., Boucher, A., Pennington, S., & Walker, B. (2004). Cultural Probes and the value of uncertainty. Interactions. In media2.cagd.co.uk (Issue 5). http://media2.cagd.co.uk/456/698100_b8ca9f.pdf

Winnicott, D. (1971). Playing and Reality. London, Routledge, 2009.