Project Title

Reimagining the Consumer-to-Object Relationship


ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Phoebe Kowalska

Extremely passionate about consumer research, consumer culture, and the dynamics of the consumer-to-object relationship. A highly curious Design Researcher, Experience Strategy Analyst and Lecturer who applies Speculative Design Thinking approaches to forecast Design Futures or Scenario Strategies for Consumer Experiences. Currently finalising PhD thesis corrections in the post-viva phase of a PhD in the Arts & Humanities. Prior to this, a Distinction through the completion of a Masters (MA) Product Design degree was achieved.

| User Experience | Speculative Design Thinking | Design Futures | Consumer Culture | HCD | Consumer-to-Object Relationships | Service Design |


Project Aim

This research was very much focused on gaining a comprehensive understanding of the consumer-to-object relationship, through investigating how some consumers are already using objects via unintended methods.

Project Approach

This research adopted a ‘Pragmatic’ epistemology and ‘Critical Realism’ theoretical perspective, whilst being underpinned by a mixed-methods methodology.

To respond to the research agenda a triangulated approach was applied, in carrying out object observations; a consumer perceptions online survey; and photo-elicited industry interviews. The combination of these three methods led to a holistic approach in which to interrogate the PhD title and the research aims and objectives.




Project Outcomes

Outcomes pointed to a comprehensive understanding of the role that objects perform in a consumer’s daily life, and the enablers or barrier impacting such a dynamic. Through this project I also developed a novel way in which to situate the consumer-to-object dynamic, which offers a new approach to this debate.

If you are interested in learning more, please email me as I am very happy to connect and chat more about this research.

Project Collaborators

Within this research I photographed 261 images of object observations; investigated 100 consumer perspectives of their interactions to objects; and worked with 5 industry professionals to scope their opinions of research data collected.

Project Keywords

#Objects #ConsumerExperience #SpeculativeDesign #SpeculativeFutures #ConsumerCulture #DesignedFunction



12 PhD Candidates at 5 Universities across the North West of England

Please click on the below images to view each candidates profile.

  • Jess Robins
  • Veronica Pialorsi
  • Phoebe Kowalska
  • Lee Omar
  • Laura Wareing
  • Jemma Street
  • Janett Adler
  • Ian Costabile
  • Gemma Potter
  • Catharine Patha
  • Alexandros Kallegias
  • Ben Blackwell

Collaborative Partner Institutions