Dr Haider Ali Akmal

Design Catalog ++

  1. Uncanny AI
  2. Tarot of Things
  3. Internet of Things Board Game
  4. Spatial Model for IoT
  5. Empathy Engine
  6. Urban Essence
  1. Orient Smart
  2. Halton Mill
  3. Muse Talent
  4. UN70th

Art Catalog ++
  1. This tiny garden that I tend
  2. Specimens
  3. Whispers
  4. Nostalgia Disturbia
  5. Back & Forth
  6. Taboos

Writing Catalog ++
  1. In Blind Sight
  2. My beef with Apple︎︎︎
  3. A Philosophy of Malfunction︎︎︎
  4. The weight of starlight︎︎︎

Haider is a designer, artist, educator, and researcher exploring the intricacies of more-than-human presents and futures for art, design, and technology.

I acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land where I work and live. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. I celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.

Dr Haider Ali Akmal

︎  ︎ ︎ ︎ OrcID︎︎︎

Speculative design researcher and future-focused service designer with over 10 years of experience as a visual artist and designer in industry (mixed freelance and agency). An accompanied 5 years of experience as a design researcher and active participant for wider research community and academia. Keen focus on research through design practices using ludic design and design fiction methods for exploring playful speculative futures in HCI. Advocate of more-than-human design practices. Seasoned visual and experience designer with diverse skillset in design software, thinking processes, and business/customer design interests. Design workshop facilitation and prototyping expert.

Education ︎︎︎

PhD in Design. Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK. 2021.
Concentration: Research through Design, Ludic Design, Internet of Things, Philosophy.
Thesis title: “Design by Play: Playfulness and Object-Oriented Philosophy for the Design of IoT”.

MA in Design Management (Distinction). Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK. 2015.
Concentration: Service Design, Business Design, Speculative Futures.
Thesis title: “Empathy Engine: Researching through Designing Fictions”
BFA in Printmaking (Honours). National College of Arts, Pakistan. 2013. Concentration: Graphic Art, Sculpture, Photography.

Experience ︎︎︎

Teaching Experience (more here)
Lecturer in Design (Education-Focused). University of New South Wales, Australia. Since Sept 2021.
Affiliations: Creative Robotics Lab, Interactive Media Lab
Interaction Design, Major Design Studio, Printmaking
Convening and teaching in both Art and Design subjects across multiple courses (minor and major) and levels (undergraduate/postgraduate). Duties involved coordinating courses, managing tutor engagement, developing improved cirriculum through student feedback, maintaining course approval ratings, mentorship, engaging with multiple departments and Communities of Practice within Art & Design, industry engagement for pedagogy and course development, and research endeavours across multiple labs on campus.

Associate Lecturer. Lancaster University, United Kingdom. Sept 2019 – Jan 2021. Affiliations: Imagination Lancaster
Design Interactions, Design Studio, Design Fiction.
Assisted teaching at Lancaster and partnership lessons with Beijing Jiaotong University, China, for undergraduates. Duties involved guiding students through their creative practice and allowing students to foster ideas on their chosen tracks of design through dialogue and examples, critique, assessment, workshop facilitation, and invigilation

Adjunct Lecturer. Beaconhouse University, Pakistan. Jun 2016 – Jul 2017. Modules: Design Studio, Illustration for Designers.
Role involved reviewing coursework, developing curriculum, invigilating, and participating in end of year juries for assessments.

Adjunct Lecturer. National College of Arts, Pakistan. Mar 2016 – Jul 2017. Affiliation: Cowasjee Printmaking Studio
Printmaking Studio, Computer Aided Design for Fine Artists.
Key roles included designing curriculum, invigilating classes and examinations, thesis supervision, providing detailed studio exercises, reviewing coursework, and providing guidance for final year thesis level students.

Research Experience
Research Associate. PETRAS IoT Hub. Jul 2017 – May 2021.
Affiliations: Lancaster University, PETRAS IoT, IoT UK, BBC R&D, Oxford University, Edinburgh University.
Principal Investigating in researching alternative design practices for IoT through speculative design futures, philosophy, and ludic design. Activities include academic publishing of research findings, attending events, representing research, writing and presenting comprehensive reports, and collaborating in transdisciplinary research between multiple departments/universities.

Design Researcher. Extension of UncannyAI Project. Jan 2021 – May 2021 Affiliations: Lancaster University, IBM, MIT.
Designing fictions and future-focused research for understanding responsible AI licensing for the RAIL Project alongside Dr Joseph Lindley.

Research Associate. UncannyAI Project. Oct 2019 – Feb 2021. Affiliations: Lancaster University, PETRAS IoT 2.0, BBC R&D.
Part of the PETRAS IoT Hub 2.0 expansion exploring specific legibility concerns around IoT, ML, and AI. Developed in-person and remote ludic workshops following COVID-19 limitations and contributing to academic publications with research findings.

Research Associate. Remembering Resistance Project. Aug 2019 – Oct 2021. Affiliations: Lancaster University, National Heritage Lottery, University of St Andrews, Peace Museum.
Curated exhibition of research findings, events, and collaborations exploring the relationship between people, power, and place arching 100 years of women’s protest in England. Role involved visualising research findings, exhibition design, alongside supporting IT team.

Industry Experience
Design Consultant. Pakistan Design Week, Pakistan. Feb 2019 – Jul 2021 (Remote).
Studio Manager. Inkster Print Studio, Pakistan. Dec 2015 – Jul 2017
Design Consultant. Cric-in-Gif, Pakistan. Apr 2016 – Sep 2016.
Design Consultant. Halton Mill, United Kingdom. Mar 2015 – May 2015.
Creative Lead. Off-Road Studios, Pakistan. Oct 2013 – Apr 2014.
Motion Graphics Artist.Wayon, Pakistan. Feb 2013 – Jul 2014. 
Co-Founder & Lead Designer. Mosami Interactive, Pakistan. Jan 2012 – Sept 2014.
Front-end Designer/Developer. Hitech Solutions, Pakistan. May 2005 – Jul 2005 (Part-time).

Skills & Strengths ︎︎︎

Service Design
Usability Testing
QQM Research
Design Thinking
Research through Design
Ludic Design
Academic Writing
Report Writing
Art History
Project Management
Academic Review
Design Management
Qualitative Assesment
3D Modelling
2D/3D Animation
Motion Graphics
UI/UX Design
Print Design
Spatial Art/Design
Godot Game Engine
Fusion 360
Publication Design
Adobe Creative Suite
Serif Suite
Adobe XD
Axure (Basic)
Photo Printing
Intaglio Printing

Strong experience in facilitating, planning, and supporting workshops for ideation, prototyping, and design intervention as a design researcher using co-design, participatory design, and ludic design methods.

Experienced in working in Agile and post-Agile methodologies such as self-management and hybrid approaches towards Agile development.

Designing and developing ludic design artefacts and prototypes, including board and card games for workshops, in iterative research through design processes.

Experienced in course design (online, F2F, and hybrid delivery) and learning management systems Moodle, Canvas, and GSuite as well as assessment management through Astra, Moodle, and Review.
Experienced in usability testing and A/B testing practices both remote and in-person in controlled settings with or without peripheral assistance such as eye tracking. 

Proficient in designing and crafting artefacts/prototypes by hand and digitally for low-fidelity to high-fidelity wireframing or final design purposes.

Working collaboratively with diverse team of developers and designers with experience in working across varied platforms for development and research

Proficient in different design thinking methodologies such as journey mapping, empathy mapping, personas, and service blueprints.

Seasoned art and design teacher with focus in teaching printmaking, art practice, software, and interaction design.

Grants & Funding ︎︎︎

ESPRC Funded PhD Fellowship in Internet of Things Research, 2017
For a detailed list of grants and funding acquired please contact me.

Conferences & Talks ︎︎︎

Design as Common Good. Switzerland. Mar 2021 (Remote).
More-than-human Centred Design: Ghosts in the Machine (Talk). Carnegie Mellon University, USA. Mar 2021 (Remote).
Indeterminacy Conference. Dundee, UK. Nov 2020 (Remote).
DRS2020 Synergy. Brisbane, Australia. Aug 2020 (Remote).
Thoughts on doing a Transdisciplinary PhD (Talk). Lancaster University, UK. Jun 2020 (Remote).
CHI 2020. Honolulu, USA. Apr 2020 (Remote).
DiGRA 2020. Tampere, Finland. Jun 2020 (Cancelled but published).
RtD 2019: Method & Critique. Delft, Netherlands. Mar 2018.
Living in the Internet of Things. London, UK. May 2019.
DRS2018: Catalyst. Limerick, Ireland. Jun 2018.
DRS2016: Future-focused Thinking. Brighton, UK. Jun 2016.

Workshops ︎︎︎

2VT Visions Technology. CHI 2021, USA. May 2021 (Forthcoming Remote). Collaborated remote workshop on spatial design for CHI2021 with University of Oulu and others.
Uncanny AI Legibility. Multiple venues since Oct 2020. Venues: Lancaster University, Oslo School of Architecture & Design, Hyper Island, DRS2020, Design as Common Good, ESRC Festival of Social Sciences 2020.
Remembering Resistance. Lancaster University, UK. Aug 2019. Exhibition design and collaboration workshop.
PETRAS IoT. Multiple venues between Jul 2017 and Jun 2020. Multiple workshops for ludic, philosophical, and design research around IoT.

Certifications & Affiliations ︎︎︎

Completed UNSW Ally Training. 2023
ADA Labs Pathways Project Academic Mentor. 2022
Affiliated with Creative Robotics Lab at UNSW since 2021
Affiliated with Interactive Media Lab at UNSW since 2021
Certification for Course Design and Quality Assurance in Higher Education. 2019.
Certification for Lancaster University’s Associate Teacher Programme. 2018.
Certification for Ethics in Arts and Social Science Research. 2018.
Member of Design Research Society since 2017.
Member of Lahore Biennale Foundation since 2016.
Lancaster University alumnus since 2015.
National College of Arts alumnus since 2013.

Publications ︎︎︎

Conference Proceedings
Akmal, H., Sandoval, E.B., 2022. Interactive Perceptual Companion: Prototyping a Digital Perception for HAI. In: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Human-Agent Interaction (HAI '22). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, pp.263–265. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3527188.3563938.

Akmal, H., Shaw, J., Sandoval, E.B., 2022. Proposing a Postanthropocentric HAI through the Perception of Sentient Entities as Trans-objects. In: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Human-Agent Interaction (HAI '22). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, pp.263–265. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3527188.3563928.

Paananen V., Markkanen, P., Oppenlaender J., Lee L.H., Akmal, H., gen. Schieck, A.F., Dunham, J., Papangelis, K., Lalone, N., van Berkel, N., Goncalves, J., Hosio, S., 2021. 2VT: Visions, Technologies, and Visions of Technologies for Understanding Human Scale Spaces. In: ACM (Association for Computing Machinery). 2021. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3411763.3441315.

Pilling, F., Akmal, H. & Gradinar, A., 2021. Using Game Engines to Design Digital Workshops for Design Research. In: European Academy of Design Conference 2021. 2021. [Submitted for publication]

Pilling, F., Akmal, H.A., Gradinar, A., Lindley, J. and Coulton, P., 2021. Legible AI by Design: Design Research to Frame, Design, Empirically Test and Evaluate AI Iconography. In: Swiss Design Network Symposium 2021 Conference Proceedings. Design as Common Good. Swiss Design Network, pp.548-565.

Akmal, H. and Coulton, P., 2020. The Divination of Things by Things. In: Extended abstracts of the 2020 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems extended abstracts, CHI ’20. [online] New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery, pp.1–12. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3334480.3381823.

Akmal, H. and Coulton, P., 2020. The Internet of Things Game: Revealing the Complexity of the IoT. In: Proceedings of DiGRA 2020. [online] DiGRA 2020: Play Everywhere. Tampere. Available at:http://www.digra.org/digital-library/publications/the-internet-of-things-game-revealing-the-complexity-of-the-iot/.

Akmal, H.A. and Coulton, P., 2020. A Tarot of Things: a supernatural approach to designing for IoT. In: Proceedings of DRS2020 Synergy. Design Research Society 2020 Synergy. Brisbane, pp.2377–2391. DOI:https://doi.org/10.21606/drs.2020.188.

Lindley, J., Akmal, H.A., Pilling, F. and Coulton, P., 2020. Researching AI Legibility Through Design. In: Proceedings of the 2020 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems, CHI ’20. [online] New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery, pp.1–13. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3313831.3376792.

Lindley, J., Akmal, H.A., Pilling, F. and Coulton, P., 2020. Signs of the Time: Making AI Legible. In: Proceedings of DRS2020 Synergy. Design Research Society 2020 Synergy. Brisbane. DOI:https://doi.org/10.21606/drs.2020.237.

Pilling, F., Akmal, H., Coulton, P. and Lindley, J., 2020. The Process of Gaining an AI Legibility Mark. In: Extended abstracts of the 2020 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems extended abstracts, CHI ’20. [online] New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery, pp.1–10. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3334480.3381820.

Akmal, H. and Coulton, P., 2019. Research Through Board Game Design. In: Proceedings of RtD 2019: Method & Critique. RtD 2019: Method & Critique. Delft, Netherlands. DOI:https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7855808.v1.

Akmal, H. and Coulton, P., 2019. The Internet of Things Game: Illuminating data interactions within the Internet of Things. In: Living in the Internet of Things (IoT 2019). [online] Living in the Internet of Things (IoT 2019). London, UK: Institution of Engineering and Technology. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1049/cp.2019.0156.

Lindley, J.G., Coulton, P. and Akmal, H., 2018. Turning Philosophy with a Speculative Lathe: Object Oriented Ontology, Carpentry, and Design Fiction. In: Proceedings of DRS2018 Limerick. Design Research Society 2018 Catalyst. Limerick.pp.229–243. DOI:https://doi.org/10.21606/dma.2018.327.

Akmal, H.A. and Coulton, P., 2018. Using Heterotopias to Characterise Interactions in Physical/Digital Spaces. In: Proceedings of DRS2018 Limerick. Design Research Society 2018 Catalyst. Limerick, pp.269–278. DOI:https://doi.org/10.21606/dma.2017.348.

Lindley, J.G., Coulton, P., Akmal, H. and Knowles, B.H., 2017. Anticipating GDPR in Smart Homes Through Fictional Conversational Objects.

Sturdee, M., Coulton, P., Lindley, J.G., Stead, M., Akmal, H.A. and Hudson-Smith, A., 2016. Design fiction: How to build a Voight-Kampff machine. In: Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, pp.375–386.

Coulton, P., Lindley, J. and Akmal, H.A., 2016. Design Fiction: Does the search for plausibility lead to deception? In: Proceedings of DRS2016 Brighton. Design Research Society 2016 Future-Focused Thinking. Brighton.

Journal Contributions
Akmal, H. and Coulton, P., 2021. More-than-human Game Design. Acta Ludologica, 4(1).  Available at:https://actaludologica.com/more-than-human-game-design-playing-in-the-internet-of-things/.

Pilling, F., Lindley, J., Akmal, H.A. & Coulton, P., 2021. Design (Non) Fiction: Deconstructing/Reconstructing the Definitional. International Journal of Film and Media Arts, 6(1). Available at:https://revistas.ulusofona.pt/index.php/ijfma/article/view/7667.

Lindley, J., Akmal, H.A. and Coulton, P., 2020. Design Research and Object-Oriented Ontology. Open Philosophy, 3(1), pp.11–41. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/opphil-2020-0002.

Books, Chapters & Dissertations
Pilling, F., Akmal, H.A., Lindley, J. and Coulton, P., 2022. Making a Smart City Legible. In: S. Carta, ed. Machine Learning and the City Reader. Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119815075.ch33

Akmal, H.A., 2021. Design by Play: Playfulness and Object-Oriented Philosophy for the design of IoT. Lancaster University. Doctorate Dissertation. DOI: 10.17635/lancaster/thesis/1396

Akmal, H.A., 2019. Heterotopias. In: C. Coulton, ed. The Little Book of Philosophy for the Internet of Things. Lancaster University, pp.14–17.

Akmal, H.A., 2015. Empathy Engine: Researching Through Design Fiction. Lancaster University. Master’s Dissertation.

Exhibitions ︎︎︎

River In An Ocean. Group Show, Lahore Biennale 01, Lahore, Pakistan, 2018.
In the sweetness of our dreams. Group Show, London Art Fair, London, United Kingdom, 2018.
Focus On: Pakistani Contemporary Art. Group Show, London Art Fair, London, United Kingdom, 2018.
Before, there was a Monsoon. Travelling Box Show, Gandhara-Art Space, Karachi, Pakistan, 2017.
This tiny garden that we tend. Group Show, Taseer Art Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan, 2016.
The Space in Between. Group Show, Taseer Art Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan, 2013.
Hunger. Group Show, Gallery of Light, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2013.
Whispers. Thesis, Zahoor ul Ikhlaaq Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan, 2013.
Alhamra Open Residency. Group Show, Alhamra Art Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan, 2011.
Correspondence. Travelling Group Show, Zahoor ul Ikhlaaq Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan, Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA, Universität Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria, 2011.
Overflow. Group Show, 39K Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan, 2010.
Red Hot. Group Show, Alhamra Art Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan, 2010.
Display of Drawings. Solo, National College of Business Administration & Economics, Lahore, Pakistan, 2009.
Display of Paintings & Calligraphy. Group Show, University of South Asia, Lahore, Pakistan, 2008.

Residencies ︎︎︎

Inkster Print Studio. Lahore, Pakistan, 2021.
Cowas Jee Print Studio. Lahore, Pakistan, 2016.
Alhamra Open Residency. Lahore, Pakistan, 2011.
Galery 39K Youth Initiative Residency. Lahore, Pakistan, 2010.

Art Fairs & Biennales ︎︎︎

Lahore Biennale 01. Lahore Biennale Foundation, Lahore, Pakistan, 2018.
Art Rooms International Art Fair. London Art Fair, London, UK, 2017.
6th Guanlan International Prinmaking Biennale. Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province, Peoples Republic of China, 2017.

Awards & Extra ︎︎︎

Co-published first book in graphic novel series “Sparrow at Heart” depicting the life of contemporary painter Shakir Ali with Lahore Literary Festival (LLF).

Alumnus of Skits Improv Society, NCA.

Co-directed and produced award winning improv comedy performance “The Blah Blah Show”, performed in Karachi, Rawalpindi, and Lahore.

Founding member of Alhamra Art Gallery Open Residency.

Curated/Exhibited in first Correspondence Exhibit between National College of Arts Lahore, Harvard University, USA, and Universität Mozarteum, Austria.

Founding member of NCA’s first student-run publication “The Occasional Shopper” encouraging discussions on art/design. Head of Layout & Design for 3 years, Assistant Editor for 1 year.

Founding member Gallery 39K Youth Initiative Artist Residency.

Return︎︎︎    Contact ︎    Virtual Office︎