Tessa Steenkamp is an urban interaction designer. With a background in interaction design and urban design, Tessa designs experiences that consist of both physical and digital elements. This is necessary, because the two worlds have long since ceased to be parallel – and often even get in each other’s way. Online platforms often have major consequences in the physical city, and vice versa: the city is not designed to facilitate our changing, digitally-driven behaviour.
As a designer, Tessa studies behavioural patterns in context, and uses the derived insights to inform strategy, design decisions and policy. By making future scenarios tangible and recognizable, the choices that we have to make today become more manageable. In this way she explores the possibilities – and risks – of technology for our cities and communities.
Tessa is an experience designer at UNSense , the technology startup of architecture company UNStudio. She is also involved in Urban Think Tank, where she uses digital methods and algorithms to realize social housing in Africa and South America.
Tessa previously set up “ OpenStad ” at the municipality of Amsterdam: an innovation program for local democracy. OpenStad designs online tools for collective decision-making and organises more influence for residents on their own immediate living environment. She also worked as a designer at Studio Roosegaarde , and at Umbrellium in London.
Using examples and her own projects, Tessa provides insight into the future of living in the city. She talks about smart cities – or rather ‘urban technologies’ and what could or should be smart about them – about smart mobility, the balance between urban and rural areas, the influence of digital technology and citizen empowerment. She examines the position of designers between top-down and bottom-up dynamics, and involves the audience in reflecting on the ethics of designing digital tools.
See here for some examples of Tessa’s projects.