Living Labs

  • Introduction

    We Make New Things Happen.

    Living Labs (LL) supports creative projects, social venture, and entrepreneurship driven by art and design.

    We build projects and partnership models that use art and design as a mechanism for innovation and community building , and connect with organizations to develop adaptive design labs that create an experimental “third space”.

    A living lab is a research concept. It is a user-centred, open innovation ecosystem, often operating in a location-based context, integrating concurrent research and innovation processes within a public-private-people partnership.

    Past and current partners include HIGHLINE, GrowLab, Microsoft, the Beedie School of Business (SFU), Mozilla, the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA), Bitlit (now Shelfie), Drive BI, Koho, Retsly, Spark CRM, Callings, Discovery Media House, Pressboard, Cognilab, Print2Peer, Control, Foodee, Silkstart, Farm at Hand, Wantoo, A & K Robotics, Curatio, Cassia Research, NearTuit, Kuu Call, Close Quickly, Downtown Prince George, Two Rivers Gallery, Citystudio, and the City of Vancouver.

  • Projects

    Some Living Labs projects:

    Design for Startups: Operating since 2013, Design for Startups is a new model for situating designers in startups where they work on applied design projects over 12 weeks. Past partners: GrowLab, HIGHLINE, British Columbia Innovation Council (BCIC), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and 30+ startups.

    Ten Different Things invited artists to create new works in the spirit of free inquiry at the intersection of public art, community engagement and civic process. Realized throughout 2017-2018, the ten artist-initiated temporary projects took a variety of forms—events, installations, residencies, interventions—and explored conditions of how culture is experienced in Vancouver or provoked new visions of art and civic life. Curated by Kate Armstrong, the series is a collaboration between the City of Vancouver Public Art Program, CityStudio Vancouver and Living Labs at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

    Omineca Arts Centre (established 2017) is an interdisciplinary, locally-led artist run centre established on occupied and unceded Lheidli T'enneh Territory in the heart of downtown Prince George, B.C. that is grounded in arts-based community development. Omineca Arts sets to facilitate collaboration and diversify opportunities for emerging and professional artists, performers, community organizations, Aboriginal and cultural groups, and citizens in Northern BC to co-develop meaningful artistic projects and experiences while exploring new models for catalyzing community development through the arts in Prince George and surrounding communities. Omineca Arts has been established through a partnership with Living Labs at Emily Carr University of Art + Design and Two Rivers Gallery.

    The Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship fosters the movement of creative people into systems and situations where their work and ideas can have the most impact. Developed by Living Labs, the Centre has launched in 2017 to act as a hub for activities relating to entrepreneurship and enterprise at Emily Carr University with the aim of establishing a place where creatives can find community and knowledge, as well as a connection to the resources they need to launch their projects in the world– whether those are products, companies, events, curatorial initiatives, non-profit organizations or other initiatives. The Shumka Centre was awarded a three year grant from the Vancouver Foundation in 2018.

    The Neighbourhood Time Exchange | Downtown Prince George (2016-2017) is an artist residency model developed by Justin Langlois that operates on a simple principle: for every hour an artist spends in their studio, they contribute an hour of volunteer time working with a Community Partner. This residency uses the concept of time banking, in which artists and community members work together for mutual benefit. Community Partners provide ideas, their expertise on the needs of the city, and a context for the artist. Artists provide their vision, their unique perspectives, and their specialized skills.

    Scotiabank Platform for Entrepreneurs: A platform to support entrepreneurship for artists and designers that includes a partnership with Launch Academy and a collaborative product development class for students from Emily Carr and SFU’s Beedie School of Business that won a Core 77 Design Award for Design Education in 2015.

    Our primary framing questions represent a guiding process in the development of art + design research projects:

    1. How can the institution pioneer new models of working with the innovation ecosystem locally and regionally in order to forefront the contribution of creative practitioners?
    2. How can the University best interface with organizations and early stage companies in a culture of perpetual change?
    3. How can initiatives be built through the research area that allow for new models of teaching, learning, and making within the framework of entrepreneurship?

    Living Labs applies art and design methodologies to projects at the intersection of the following key areas:

    New Ideas that Work: Investigating partnered research as a form of creative praxis that establishes frameworks for art and design entrepreneurs to innovate, fostering the creation of “new ideas that work”.

    Organizational Models: Exploring emergent organizational models in business and technology by creating innovative partnerships that allow for both theoretical observation on the level of the model and the practical integration of students into real-world frameworks. What organizational constructs in business and technology are emerging now, and how can the art and design university work with, in and through them to achieve broader relevance?

    Tools for Creative Entrepreneurs: Examining tools and contexts that align with applied practices and real world testing, such as Lean UX and crowd-funding platforms. What does it look like to examine crowd-funding platforms as an area of research and teaching within the context of art and design entrepreneurship? What happens when we borrow methods from one context, such as Lean UX’s “learn, build, test”, and apply them in another? What will be the next models for connecting people and ideas to learning, audiences and markets?

    Industry Interface: Creating interfaces with leaders in business and technology. How can we engage industry leaders in new ways that allow greater contact, more mutual benefit, and more productive ideas and relationships with the students and the school?

  • Contact

    Living Labs wants to hear from you:


    Kate Armstrong, Director, Living Labs

    Cemre Demiralp, Coordinator, Living Labs

    Follow Living Labs on Twitter @_LivingLabs

Let's Do Something Together.


Research welcomes inquiries from industry and community groups who wish to partner. Contact livinglabs[at] regarding partnerships, collaborations, and how to initiate access to our subject matter experts, leading edge technologies, and next generation talent.


Research hosts events, exhibitions, meet-ups, and speakers relevant to our Centres, Studios, and innovation in art, design, and media. Stay ahead by subscribing to our updates. Subscribe now.

Access Funding

Partnership with Emily Carr Research enables industry partners and collaborators to access government funding available for innovation and the advancement of research. Review your funding opportunities on the Research page.