Abigail Durrant

abigail.durrant@northumbria.ac.uk | Research Associate

Abigail Durrant

I am a designer and researcher with a longstanding curiosity in the design-led study of human-computer interaction (HCI) from social and cultural perspectives. This is grounded in my interdisciplinary career spanning the arts and humanities.

I have 16 years professional experience working in academic, commercial and public sector contexts, with specialist applied skills in computer-related design and a deep knowledge of critical approaches to HCI research.

In a commercial design research context, I have drawn upon my expertise in ethnography, film making, conceptual design and visual communication to deliver understandings and strategic directions for technology innovation in Healthcare, Telecommunications and Government.

My academic research has focussed on the development of digital photography and social media to support the expression of identity in different contexts and domains, by different communities and cultures.  My approach is creative, practice-based and interdisciplinary, using design artefacts and processes to understand and communicate ideas and experiences. I  recently co-chaired the Research Through Design (RTD) 2015 conference with friend and colleague John Vines.  I also teach interaction design methods including  film-making and video techniques for design research.

I am currently pursuing a Leverhulme Fellowship (ECF-2012-642) exploring how design practitioner-researchers collaborate and communicate within interdisciplinary teams researching emerging technologies and their potential impact.  An additional aim is to create a ‘rich picture’ of current interaction design research practice in the UK and beyond: www.designfordialogue.org.uk.

A  case study for the fellowship is an RCUK-funded project about the creation and management of digital identity across the human lifespan, which I am a Co-Investigator on: Charting the Digital Lifespan (CDL), EP/L00383X/1.

Before taking up my fellowship, I worked on the Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy (SiDE) hub, exploring amongst other things the potential of photography at school to support children with additional needs in interpersonal communication, and how the design of photographic equipment could enhance this.

I previously worked at University of Nottingham, exploring ubiquitous technology support to tourism enterprises and cultural visiting experiences, focusing on mobile technology development and locative service design. In this work I designed, deployed and evaluated prototypes to deliver interdisciplinary insights about business, engineering and human behaviour.

I was a Senior Research Associate at  Open Lab from 2011 to 2016.  My personal website displays a full list of publications and a portfolio.



Opportunities and challenges of the digital lifespan: views of service providers and citizens in the UK
Orzech KM, Moncur W, Durrant A, Trujillo-Pisanty D, Information Communication and Society14-29
Admixed portrait: Design to understand Facebook portrayals in new parenthood
Durrant AC, Kirk DS, Trujillo-Pisanty D, Martindale S, Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '18)12


Designing Documentary Informatics
Elsden C, Durrant AC, Chatting D, Kirk DS, Designing Interactive Systems (DIS '17)649-661
Making Ritual Machines: The Mobile Phone as a Networked Material for Research Products
Chatting D, Kirk DS, Durrant AC, Elsden C, Yurman P, Bichard JA, CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems435-447
On Speculative Enactments
Elsden C, Chatting D, Durrant AC, Garbett A, Nissen B, Vines J, Kirk DS, Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems5386-5399
Transitions in Digital Personhood: Online Activity in Early Retirement
Durrant A, Kirk D, Trujillo-Pisanty D, Moncur W, Orzech L, Schofield T, Elsden C, Chatting D, Monk A, CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '17)6398-6411


Understanding the Sociality of Experience in Mobile Music Listening with Pocketsong
Kirk DS, Durrant A, Wood G, Leong TW, Wright P, 2016 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems DIS 201650-61
The value of designers' creative practice within complex collaborations
Bowen S, Durrant A, Nissen B, Bowers J, Wright P, Design Studies174-198
Understanding the Sociality of Experience in Mobile Music Listening with Pocketsong
Kirk D, Durrant A, Wood G, Leong T, Wright P, Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS 2016)50-61
Sit with Me
Galani A, Durrant A, Chatting D,
It's just my history isn't it?: Understanding smart journaling practices
Elsden C, Durrant A, Kirk D, ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 20162819-2831


Developing a Dialogical Platform for Disseminating Research through Design
Durrant A, Vines J, Wallace J, Yee J, Constructivist Foundations8-21
A Quantified Past: Towards Design for Remembering with Personal Informatics
Elsden C, Kirk DS, Durrant A, Human–Computer Interaction


Admixed portrait: Refections on being online as a new parent
Trujillo-Pisanty D, Durrant A, Martindale S, James S, Collomosse J, Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems: Processes, Practices, Methods, and Techniques (DIS '14)503-512
A Study of the Challenges Related to DIY Assistive Technology in the Context of Children with Disabilities
Hook J, Verbaan S, Durrant A, Olivier P, Wright P, DIS Companion '14597-606
Interpersonal expression in the special educational needs classroom: An experience-centred design case study
Durrant A, Hook J, McNaney R, Williams K, Smith T, Stockman T, Olivier P, International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction34-47
Reflections on a Synergistic Format for Disseminating Research Through Design
Wallace J, Yee J, Durrant A, CHI '14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA '14)781-792
Human Values in Curating a Human Rights Media Archive
Durrant AC, Kirk DS, Reeves S, SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '14)2685-2694


Design to Support Interpersonal Communication in the Special Educational Needs Classroom
Durrant A, Hook J, McNaney R, Williams K, Smith T, Kipling M, Olivier P, Stockman T, IDC 2013: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children46-55


In Dialogue: Methodological Insights on Doing HCI Research in Rwanda
Merritt S, Durrant A, Reeves S, Kirk D, CHI '12 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA '12)661-676
Tabletop games for photo consumption at theme parks
Anstead E, Durrant A, Benford S, Kirk D, Proceedings of the 2012 ACM international conference on Interactive tabletops and surfaces (ITS '12)61-70
Pursuing Leisure: Reflections on Theme Park Visiting
Durrant A, Kirk DS, Benford S, Rodden T, Computer Supported Collaborative Work43-75
Mediating genocide: Cultural understanding through digital and print media stories in global communication
Wessels B, Anderson B, Durrant A, Ellis J, International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics


The Secret Lives of Teens: Online and Offline Photographic Displays at Home
Durrant A, Frohlich D, Sellen A, Uzzell D, Visual Studies113-124
Automics: Souvenir generating photoware for theme parks
Durrant A, Rowland D, Kirk DS, Benford S, Fischer JE, McAuley D, CHI 2011: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems1767-1776


Collocated social practices surrounding photos
Lindley S, Durrant AC, Kirk D, Taylor AS, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies995-1004
Photo Displays and Intergenerational Relationships in the Family Home
Durrant A, Taylor AS, Frohlich D, Sellen A, Uzzell D, British Computing Society Conference of Human Computer Interaction (HCI 09)10-19
Home curation versus teenage photography: Photo displays in the family home
Durrant A, Frohlich D, Sellen A, Lyons E, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies1005-1023

Associated Projects

  • Charting the Digital Lifespan
    We have yet to experience a complete lifespan in the Digital Age, from conception to death in old age. Those who have grown up interacting with digital technology are still relatively young, whilst older technology adopters hold paper trails of mem...
    August 30, 2011
  • Embodied Selves in Transition: Disabled Young
    Currently, we do not know much about what it is like for young people with physical disabilities to transition into adolescence, how a physical disability can interact with their changing body and complicate societal assumptions about how an adolescent...
    August 30, 2011
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