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Faber-Ludens Interaction Design Institute (2007-2012)

Inspired by European Design schools that embraced the Digital Culture, like Ivrea Institute and its successor, Copenhagen Institute for Interaction Design (cIId), a multidisciplinary group founded Faber-Ludens Institute for Interaction Design in Curitiba, in 2007. As a non-profit organization, Faber-Ludens had a democratic (sometimes anarchic) governance model, which favored intense collaboration between its members and the community.

Faber-Ludens discussion-based governance model.

Bootstrapped without any funding source, activities were primarily held on the Internet, through a website and an email list. Members of the email list organized themselves to translate basic texts on Interaction design because most Brazilians don’t read English. A wiki was born out of that, including later information about methods, tools, books, and movies that members wanted to share.

Faber-Ludens digital/analog ecosystem

In partnership with a Colombian University, Faculdades San Martín, and a Brazilian University, Universidade do Contestado, Faber-Ludens began offering a post-graduate program in Interaction Design with 360 hours of coursework. The curriculum was structured to offer a strong social background, emphasizing Interaction Design role in cultural production.

Module I – Technology and Society

  • Interaction Design Foundations (40hs)
  • New Media and Digital Culture (16hs)
  • Sociology of Technology (24hs)
  • Research Methodology (24hs)

Module II Artifact reception

  • Design, Art, and Technology (24hs)
  • Mobility and Pervasive Computing (24hs)
  • Visual Anthropology (32hs)
  • Usability and Ergonomics (16hs)

Module III – Artifact production

  • Prototyping Techniques I (24hs)
  • Prototyping Techniques I (44hs)
  • Interface Design (16hs)
  • Hypermedia and Language (16hs)
  • Interaction Design Project (60hs)

Each theoretical course was accompanied by an experimental design project. All assignments required students to publish their works on Faber-Ludens website, where non-students community members could comment. The same with teaching materials. A selection of interaction design projects from students has been published in the Almanaque 2010 yearbook.

Faber-Ludens corporate workshops and training.

As the graduate students pioneered Interaction Design practice in Brazil, companies turn to Faber-Ludens for consultancy and training. In 2010, Faber-Ludens opened a commercial studio to develop projects that bridge the gap between academic and industry knowledge.

University-industry cross-pollination strategy.

Faber-Ludens faded away in 2014, as the founders moved to other activities. In the 7 years that comprised its life, Faber-Ludens graduated more than 80 students, trained more than 200 people, consulted for 7 companies, and conducted more than 40 applied research projects. It had a lasting impact on the interaction design and user experience scene in Brazil.

Frederick was one of the six founders of Faber-Ludens, the elected president, and the course coordinator for the post-graduate studies. The open innovation platform created by Faber-Ludens, Corais Platform, is still active today, carrying forward much of its values and visions.


Faber-Ludens Interaction Design Institute. Almanaque 2010: Interaction Design Yearbook. Blurb.

Van Amstel, Frederick M.C.; Vassão, Caio A.; Ferraz, Gonçalo B. 2012. Design Livre: Cannibalistic Interaction Design. In: Innovation in Design Education: Proceedings of the Third International Forum of Design as a Process, Turin, Italy.

Gonzatto, R.F; Amstel, F.M.C.van; Merkle, L.E; Hartmann, T. 2013. The ideology of the future in design fictions. Digital Creativity. Vol. 24 (1).

Van Amstel, Frederick M.C., and Rodrigo Freese Gonzatto. (2016) “Design Livre: designing locally, cannibalizing globally.” XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine for Students, 22(4), p.46-50.

Categories: My work, Teaching.

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