The Ritual Machines are the result of a design collaboration between the Royal College of Art’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the Digital Interaction Group at Newcastle University.

These machines are the result of a series of Design-Led Ethnographic case studies with families that are regularly separated due to work travel. Each machine has been specifically designed to live with a particular family for up to eight weeks, identifying their specific domestic rituals and their attitudes towards home, work, separation and reunion. The aesthetic language of each machine reflects the material tastes of the family it was tailored for. The machines are deliberately playful and provocative. They do not attempt to propose a solution to the ‘problem’ of separation. Instead, they offer a conversation about what home and family life is, and what it means to be separated from it.

RITUAL MACHINE 1: Drinking Together Whilst Apart

RITUAL MACHINE 2: Anticipation of Time Together

RITUAL MACHINE 3- Connecting Through Housework

RITUAL MACHINE 4- A Message in a Jam

RITUAL MACHINE 5- Where Are You?


David Kirk (Principal Investigator, Newcastle University) and  Jo-Anne Bichard (Co-Investigator, RCA)

Design Researchers:

David Chatting (Newcastle University) and Paulina Yurman (Royal College of Art)