My name is Juha Kronqvist. I am a design researcher.

I work at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. In addition, I work freelance in design and teaching.

My belief is that human-centric design can be used to create better services and digital systems. This is because it places people in the centre of the design process. By interviewing, observing and co-designing with them we are able to discover insights that inspire useful, usable and desirable services.

I publish the results of my work as research papers in peer-reviewed journals and conferences. The working title for my doctoral dissertation is 'Designing (for) Innovative Work'.


  • Designing for patient-centric care

    Healthcare is undergoing great changes. Diminishing resources coupled with an aging population creates a pull for innovative ideas. At the same time the demand for more personalized and experiential services pushes providers to create patient-centered services. These trends constituted the frame for designing with and for patients at a regional hospital in Finland.

    The pilot group for the design project was patients with a sarcoma-type cancer. Together with the staff, we explored the treatment experiences through in-depth interviews with the help of a specially designed 'game board'. After the results were

    analyzed, initial concepts were tested and further developed in patient co-design workshops.

    The design process provided the hospital with improvement ideas for the patient journey, three concepts and five design drivers guiding further planning. The patients and staff reacted to the project with great interest and work continues with other patient groups.

    More information

  • Designing (for) innovative work

    Human-centric design can also be applied to studying and designing work practices. In this case we used interviews and co-design methods to create a new strategy for renewing the innovation processes of a large company. The management had recently introduced a new web-based innovation tool to collect and screen new product ideas. The challenge was in how to integrate this tool into the existing work practices of the employees.

    In the two-year research process we interviewed tens of employees for their innovation practices and organized a series of co-design workshops to create a shared vision for the new model of working.

    We found out that the central challenge was between two modes for innovation: closed group work and open iterative sharing. Instead of opposing each other, these modes should be made to work together. In the workshops we pushed the focus from processes to the people who are doing the work. We created personas that signify the central roles in the innovation process, planned innovation support practices and created concepts for new innovation tools and features. The end product was a five-year strategy for creating a global innovation community in which ideas a shared, but which leaves space innovation practices that take place face-to-face.

  • Designing a cruise experience

    In this case we worked with a cruise line to redesign their restaurant services for an improved cruise experience. The restaurant facilities had recently been renovated and included wine sales as a new part of its offerings. The service personnel needed to review their work practices to support the new designs.

    We interviewed over thirty customers to explore their cruise experience and to discover unmet needs. This material was processed in co-design workshops with the front-line employees. Several service prototypes were tested during the cruise. The project resulted in better experiences for the customers and a

    significant increase in wine sales. In addition, the employees found the project work very meaningful which could be witnessed in a radical decrease of work absence.


  • Human-centered design refers to an approach which places individuals in the centre of the design process. In design research, academic thinking is combined with practical relevance. This entails the use of methods that allow for the uncovering of the relationships and meanings that people create when interacting with a product, system or organization.

    With this aim in mind, I utilize discovery methods such as interviews and observations to form an initial understanding of the situation. Based on this understanding I can create early design concepts, which are more fully explored and developed in co-design workshops together with various stakeholders.

    Collaboration is at the core of a human-centered approach.

    Through using a human-centered approach we are able to create products and services that work better, are more usable, become desirable and often are more efficient. By placing people in the centre, work processes become more enjoyable also for the employees.

  • Contextual inquiry·During this phase the focus is in creating an understanding of the socio-cultural context of design. This phase usually entails use of interviews and observation, along with desktop studies. Understanding from this phase is analyzed and codified in design drivers, general improvement ideas and early design concepts.

    Co-design·During the second phase the stakeholders are invited in one or more workshops during which results from the first phase are refined and questioned. This phase can also be used for further developing initial ideas into design concepts by the participants. Methods might include the use of scenarios, quick sketches or light prototypes.

    Product design·Here one goes into defining the use cases and interaction details of the product. The results of the previous phases are translated into working models. Collaboration with the design team intensifies in line with distance from stakeholders.

    Prototype·The last phase before delivery is a functional prototype which can be tested in real settings. This presents solutions to challenges defined in earlier phases.

    The process description is inspired by the research work of Teemu Leinonen.

  • Design drivers·General guidelines based on contextual inquiry. They provide direction for the design work from the perspective of user experience.

    Incremental improvements·Suggestions for improvement based on problems or opportunities in the existing products or services. These are identified through interviews, observations or expert evaluation.

    New concepts·Strategical concepts based on insights from user study. Used as a basis for future products or services.


  • Kronqvist, J., Järvinen, M. and Leinonen, T. (2012) Games as Design Medium. Utilizing Game Boards for Design Inquiry with Cancer Patients. In Proceedings of ServDes.2012 – Service Design and Innovation Conference 8-10 February 2012. Espoo, Finland.

    Salmi, A., Pöyry-Lassila, P. and Kronqvist, J. (2012) Collaboratively Narrating the Future through Idea Cards. In Proceedings of PIN-C2012 – Participatory Innovation Conference 12-14 January 2012. Melbourne, Australia.

    Kronqvist, J. and Salmi, A. (2011) Co-Designing (with) Organizations - Human-centeredness, Participation and Embodiment in Organizational Development. In Proceedings of the DPPI2011 – International Conference on Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces 22-25 June 2011. Milan, Italy.

    Kronqvist, J., Salmi, A. and Pöyry-Lassila, P. (2011) "Start With a Small Ball of Snow" – Meanings as Tools for Participative Innovation. In Proceedings of PINC2011 - Participatory Innovation Conference 13-15 January 2011. Sønderborg, Denmark.

    Salmi, A., Kronqvist, J. and Pöyry-Lassila, P. (2010) Supporting Empathy in Business Process Simulation. In Proceedings of the 14th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments, 6-8 October 2010, Tampere, Finland.

    Kronqvist, J. and Korhonen, S-M. (2009) Co-Designing Sustainable Solutions - Combining Service Design and Change Laboratory. In Proceedings of the First Nordic Conference on Service Design and Service Innovation 24-26 November 2009. Oslo, Norway.

    Korhonen, S-M. and Kronqvist, J. (2009) Developing Work Activities and Customer Experiences by Integrating Change Laboratory and Service Design Methods. In Proceedings of the Creative Economy and Beyond Conference 9-10 September 2009. Helsinki, Finland.

    Research profile


  • I have worked in the field of digital media and design since 2005 in collaboration with the public and private sectors. Based on my background in educational sciences, I view most human behaviour as a learning process. This allows for a deep understanding of those behavioural and social mechanisms that guide people. Through several years of education and work in the design field, I have acquired the skills and mindset for solving complex problems.

    CV (pdf)