Beyond Skin Deep: Generative Co-Design for Aesthetic Prosthetics

Sarah Whatley, Kate Marsh, Steve Benford, Feng Zhou, Paul Tennant, Ian Ascroft, Welly O'Brien, Tanja Erhart

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


There is a trend for handcrafting bespoke prostheses that embody their wearers’ aesthetic tastes and identities. We explore how this might be extended by enabling users to co-design with algorithms. We report a design-led exploration (Figure 1) in which professional disabled dancers danced with a generative design algorithm to create personalised designs called aesthetic seeds. Further algorithms applied these to prosthetic greaves, rendering them in various materials before optimising for additive manufacture. Interviews with our dancers revealed that the aesthetics of prosthetics reach beyond visual decoration to encompass form, function, bodily experience, body image, and identity; that interactions with generative design algorithms can harness people’s expressive and aesthetic skills; and that we must redesign supporting technologies for diverse bodies. We generalise our findings into a process for how people may co-design 3D printable products with algorithms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI'23: Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
EditorsAlbrecht Schmidt, Kaisa Väänänen, Tesh Goyal, Per Ola Kristensson, Anicia Peters, Stefanie Mueller, Julie R. Williamson, Max L. Wilson
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-9421-5
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2023
Event2023 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Congress Centre Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 23 Apr 202328 Apr 2023

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Conference2023 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Abbreviated titleCHI2023
Internet address


  • additive manufacture
  • aesthetics
  • assistive technologies
  • design methods
  • disabled dance artists
  • embodied interaction
  • personalisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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