Rita Maldonado Branco

Rita Maldonado Branco is a communication designer and a design researcher. Currently, she works as a researcher and is an integrated member of the Research Institute for Design Media and Culture (ID+) at University of Aveiro, on the research group Health+Design Lab, within the 2020 Individual Call to Scientific Employment Stimulus (CEEC Individual – 3rd edition; 2020.04083.CEECIND), funded by FCT, under the title "Communication and engagement with people with dementia through design”. She is an external volunteer collaborator of Dementia Lab/Inter-Actions Research Unit, at LUCA School of Arts, Belgium, where she worked previously as a researcher in 2020-21, in particular on the EU project Interreg North-West Europe Certification-D, and on a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Network application. In the last years, Rita was also a lecturer and tutor at University of Minho in the Product and Service Design master’s programme (2018-2021), and in Product Design undergraduate programme (2018-2020), and at the Escola Superior de Educação de Coimbra, in the Communication and Multimedia Design undergraduate programme (2019).

Rita holds a degree in Design (2008) from the University of Aveiro and graduated with distinction in the MA Communication Design (2012) from Central Saint Martins University of the Arts London, with a project that explored communication design contributions to dementia. This research was taken forward through her PhD in Design (2018), at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto in partnership with the University of Aveiro and ID+.

Rita’s research focuses on how communication design can support the maintenance of social relationships and communication between people with dementia and their families, and their involvement as participants in co-design processes. Her research is published in several peer-reviewed articles in international conferences and journals, such as the Participatory Design Conference, the Codesign journal and more recently, a chapter on the book HCI and Design in Context of Dementia, edited by Rens Brankaert and Gail Kenning.

Rita also worked as a communication designer in Porto at Providência Design studio, and in London, at the Design Against Crime Research Centre and Minus9Design studio. Her professional design practice revolved mainly around editorial, information design and science communication.

Current positions

  • Researcher Universidade de Aveiro

PhD Details

Research Groups


  • Branco, R. A., Branco, R., Branco, C., Branco, H. & Branco, V. (coord.)(2020). “Vasco Branco : legendas da cidade salgada / legends of salt city”. (bilingue). Câmara Municipal de Aveiro, ISBN 978-972-96602-5-2.
  • Canli, E., & Branco, R. M. (2016) (Eds.) Proceedings of UD15: Periphery and Promise, 4th PhD in Design Forum. Porto: PhD Design, Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade do Porto. Link
  • Branco, R. M., Hendriks, N. & Wilkinson, A. (2018) (Eds.), Dementia Lab event: Stories from design and research. Dementia Lab Belgium. Link
Book chapters
  • Branco R.M., Quental J., Ribeiro O. (2020) Materializing Personhood: Design-Led Perspectives. In: Brankaert R., Kenning G. (eds) HCI and Design in the Context of Dementia. Human–Computer Interaction Series. Springer, Cham. Link
  • Branco, R. M. (2014). Design de Comunicação ao serviço da Doença de Alzheimer. In Fonseca, A. M. (Ed.), Demência na Terceira Idade: Contributos Teóricos, Competências a Mobilizar e Estratégias de Intervenção (pp. 97-117). ADRAVE. Link
  • Branco, R. M. (2015) Communication Design for Alzheimer’s Disease: understanding the disease and facilitating interaction through communication design. In Lee, Y. & Moore, P. (Eds.), Ageing, Ingenuity & Design: International Cases Collection 2015 (pp. 174-183). Hong Kong: DESIS Network. Link
International journals
  • Branco, R. M., Quental, J., & Ribeiro, O. (2015). Getting closer, empathising and understanding: setting the stage for a codesign project with people with dementia. Interaction Design and Architectures Journal – IxD&A, 26, 114–131. Link
  • Branco, R. M., Quental, J., & Ribeiro, O. (2017) Personalised participation: an approach to involve people with dementia and their families in a participatory design project. CoDesign, 13(2), 127–143. Link
National journals
  • Branco, R. M., Quental, J. (2015) Observation Through Design: A preliminary study for a design research project with people with dementia. In Proceedings of UD14 – Encontro Ibérico de Doutoramentos em Design. Aveiro: Universidade de Aveiro.
International conferences
  • Branco, R.M., Quental, J., Ribeiro, O., Teles, S., Almeida, A.M. (2022). Humanizing Information About Meaningful Activities for People with Dementia. In: Houben, M., Brankaert, R., Hendriks, N., Wilkinson, A., Morrissey, K. (eds) Dementia Lab 2022: The Residue of Design. D-Lab 2022. Design For Inclusion, vol 3. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-14466-0_5 Link
  • Branco R.M., Hendriks N., Lenaerts L., Wilkinson A. (2021) The Challenges of Creating Design Requirements for Products for People with Dementia. In: Brankaert R., Raber C., Houben M., Malcolm P., Hannan J. (eds) Dementia Lab 2021: Supporting Ability Through Design. D-Lab 2021. Design For Inclusion, vol 2. Springer, Cham. Link
  • Slegers, K., Hendriks, N., Duysburgh, P., Maldonado Branco, R., Vandenberghe, B., & Brandt, E. (2016). Sharing Methods for Involving People with Impairments in Design: Exploring the Method Story Approach. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 3331-3338). ACM. Link
  • Van Dijk, J., Hendriks, N., Frauenberger, C., Verhoeven, F., Slegers, K., Brandt, E., & Branco, R. M. (2016). Empowering people with impairments: How participatory methods can inform the design of empowering artifacts. In Proceedings of the 14th Participatory Design Conference: Short Papers, Interactive Exhibitions, Workshops-Volume 2 (pp. 121-122). ACM. Link
  • Branco, R. M. (2017) Tapping into other resources; a cross-disciplinary approach. In Hendriks, N., Wilkinson, A. & Schoenaers, D. (Eds.) Dementia Lab: The role of design (pp. 29-32). Dementia Lab Belgium. Link
  • Branco, R. M., Quental, J., & Ribeiro, O. (2015). “I’m always well when we are together”: Observation of institutional activities with people with dementia and its implications fora co-design research project. In K. Christer (Ed.) Proceedings of 3rd European Conference on Design4Health, Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University. Link
  • Branco, R. M., Quental, J., & Ribeiro, O. (2016) Playing with personalisation and openness in a codesign project involving people with dementia. In Bossen, C., Smith, R. C., Kanstrup, A. M., McDonnell, J., Teli, M., & Bødker, K. (Eds.) Participation in an Era of Participation: Proceedings of the 14th Participatory Design Conference, (pp. 61–70). Aarhus: Aarhus University. New York: ACM. Link
  • Branco, R. M., Quental, J., & Ribeiro, O. (2016) Tactile explorations in a codesign project involving people with dementia. In Desmet, P. M. A., Fokkinga S. F., Ludden, G., Cila, N., & Van Zuthem, H. (Eds.) Celebration & Contemplation: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Design and Emotion (pp. 642-650). Amsterdam: The Design & Emotion Society. Link
  • Branco, R. M., Quental, J., & Ribeiro, O. (2018) Co-creating stories with people with dementia: experiences of using a cards game in familial and institutional settings. In Branco, R. M., Hendriks, N. & Wilkinson, A. (Eds.), Dementia Lab event: Stories from design and research (pp.109–122). Dementia Lab Belgium. Link
Other publications
  • Branco, R. M. (2015) Books of Forgetfulness. In Zeilig, H. (Ed.) Mirror Mirror: Representations and Reflections on Age and Aging, Age Culture Humanities Journal, Issue 2. Link
  • Branco, R. M. (2018, 29 de Julho) Design e Demência: Cuidar com Significado. Público/P2, pp. 30. Link

Scientific, artistic and cultural production

Other relevant cultural production
  • Branco, R. A., Branco, R., Branco, C., Branco, H. & Branco, V. (Curadoria) (2020) “100 anos de Vasco Branco: variações quase sentimentais sobre uma cidade (exposição de pintura e cerâmica). Museu da Cidade. Aveiro. Setembro,Outubro 2020
  • Branco, V., Branco, R. & Branco, C. (2020). 100 anos de Vasco Branco – website sobre a vida e obra