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Welcome to the last in a series of researcher blog posts on Remi Bec’s mission to share his experience of Designing in Health with Canadian researchers. The first post is here and the previous can be found here.

About the author

After studying model making and space design in France, Remi Bec completed a PhD exploring the use of games to promote physical activity. Following this, Remi was seconded to the Translating Knowledge to Action team (TK2A – part of the CLAHRC YH) where he was the design researcher lead based at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. He has now returned to Lab4Living where he is leading on the ‘Play‘ theme within the 100-year Life project. 

He is also director, founder of a social enterprise, GoFit4Fun CIC, which delivers services in the community to fight social exclusion and sedentary behaviours through the co-creation and play of games.

In this post:

You will find out about the connections we made with professors in Design in Montreal, and the interactions we had with Graphic design students from Emily Carr University!

Connecting with Professors at UQAM in Montreal

Top news: Opportunity to Speak to Congress!

I was lucky enough to visit the design school in Université du Quebec a Montreal (UQAM) thanks to two professors, Borkur Bergmann and Stéphane Vial, who invited us to come and present our work.

Remi Bec Researcher Blog - Meeting Borkur Bergmann at UQAM (University of Design, Montreal)

Meeting Borkur Bergmann at UQAM (University of Design, Montreal)

There weren’t many students around as it was half-term. The building is from the end of 20th century and beautifully expose the walls made of a combination of concrete principally, with metal and glass. The building is situated among social buildings, which encourages students to develop project within this community. Like in Vancouver, the school also includes an exhibition place on the ground floor (the exhibition taking place then was about the use of ‘concrete under all its shapes’. A specificity of the building is that there is a tunnel 1km long that connects the tube station with the university’s underground directly, without needing to go outside. This is super-convenient when it’s -20 degrees!

Remi Bec Researcher Blog - The exhibition space on UQAM’s ground floor

The exhibition space on UQAM’s ground floor

Both professors were very enthusiastic about our work and they had heard of Lab4Living and our welsh boss – Paul Chamberlain prior to our visit. UQAM design school focuses mainly on architecture and urban design along with industrial and graphic design. Urban design being predominant, it was interesting to hear they also encourage and explore how users can be more participative in their environment. Stéphane Vial, who has a psychological background, theorises about design and an area of interests lies in digital innovation. He is also the Chairholder of the UQAM Research Chair in Design for e-Mental Health (Diament), and the Editor-in-Chief of the French language design journal Sciences du Design. One issue was about Design in Health ( and Stéphane has developed more interest in design in health related topics and he is currently kicking off some work using technology to promote better mental health.

Remi Bec Researcher Blog - The cafeteria at UQAM

The cafeteria at UQAM

Coincidentally Stéphane had submitted a paper to the Design4Health conference, which I actually reviewed and accepted. Unfortunately, 2020 is the year of Coronavirus and the conference that was meant to take place in Amsterdam won’t happen. Anyway, our conversation was short but the connection strong. We hope we will be able to collaborate on some projects and he even asked me to deliver a presentation to a congress he is organising!

Remi Bec Researcher Blog - The wood workshop at UQAM

The wood workshop at UQAM

Teaching to Graphic Design students at Emily Carr University

Top news: Kicking off data collection as part of the 100-year Life project to redefine the meaning of ‘play’.

As part of the lovely Emily Carr University crew in Vancouver, we also met Eugenie Cheon, main tutor for Graphic design students. Cheryl and I delivered a presentation to the students, focusing on the different tools we use on projects and how we might adapt a tool for a specific audience. We gave as examples a couple of projects (Avachat and START – to find out more about them click on this link. The class included around 15 students.

Remi Bec Researcher Blog - Visiting lecturer at Emily Carr University to present TK2A and handing in our case study book

Visiting lecturer at Emily Carr University to present TK2A and handing in our case study book

We were also asked to give some feedback on a project students were working on. In groups of 2-3, students had to develop some way-finding solutions to help people with all sorts of disabilities (visually impaired, hearing loss, wheelchair users…) to navigate within a specific given building. In groups of 2-3, Cheryl and I gave advice as to what the next activities they might want to conduct in their participatory approach. It was very fulfilling to be able to share my experience and knowledge both as teaching and design researcher and help them to develop creative tools that can fit within the project so far and within the constraints of applying participatory approaches.

Remi Bec Researcher Blog - Giving feedback for the next phase of the graphic design students’ project

Giving feedback for the next phase of the graphic design students’ project

Since we were asked to help them with their project, I also thought they might be able to help me with my research. During the presentation, and in the context of ‘play within the 100 year life’, I gave them a short activity to explore what play means to them, what can be perceived as ‘not playful’, where could/should it be applied, and give an example that they could relate to. Some preliminary analysis of the data is undertaken yet it appears some interesting remarks emerged: “can’t be complex”, “freedom of imagination”, “makes you feel happy and relaxed”, “the opposite of formal”, “ social and interactive”. I am now looking forward to conducting more activities with other age groups, profiles and contexts to keep exploring what play is while keep applying playful approaches to research around it.

Remi Bec Researcher Blog - Exploring the definition of ‘Play’

Exploring the definition of ‘Play’


That’s it – there is no next time, this was the final post of my trip to Canada. Thank you for taking interest and reading, I hope you have enjoyed it and learned a few bits and bobs 😊 If you would like to find out more about my trip, what I do at Lab4Living or at GoFit4Fun CIC > feel free to get in touch!

Remi Bec Researcher Blog - Contacts and thanks

About this blog

This trip to Canada (Vancouver BC, and Montreal, Quebec) was made possible thanks to NIHR CLAHRC (TK2A theme) and Lab4Living (Sheffield Hallam University) in the UK. I, Dr Remi Bec, Design Researcher, relate in this summary my Canadian experience and therefore this entire content is my views and opinions only, not the ones of the funders. I also apologise for some of the content I relate since there might be elements of the stories that might not be fully accurate. Some details might have been forgotten or changed slightly but it is not to better fit my story – it is solely I have exchanged so much and interacted with so many people along the way that my little brain cannot retain it fully!