Bente Halvorsen

M. Sci. Design, use, interaction. University of Oslo

Current position, contractor: design & UX lead @highcharts

Key competences:

interaction design, user experience, web and system development, concept development, co-creation, visualisations, typography

Key interests:

cartography, information architecture, tangible interactions, illustration

Why you should employ me? Because I solve knotty problems creatively, and…:


I drew this

…then I do lots of interesting, digital magic with it.

I design & build web

…& wrote a pretty cool master thesis in informatics and Human-Computer Interaction.


I make things

…with clay, gold leaf, ink, lasers, and pixels.


I write stuff

…on oddities in science, art, design, technology, and history.

I love to work with concept development, prototyping, visual languages, graphic design, and data & information visualisations. If this could somehow include print, lasers, cardboard, vector graphics, and programmers; I would be very happy. I use the Oxford comma, I know where to find both the ellipsis and the pipe on my keyboard, and I speak nerd. And design.

How to get in touch:

How do I work? Methods, tools & materials

  • UX, IA, interaction design
  • Concept development
  • Collaborative development
  • User testing, user involvement
  • Ethnographic methods, personas, proxy users
  • Interviews, user collaborations
  • Test designs
  • Prototyping: physical and wireframes
  • Graphics: vector, bitmap
  • Typography
  • Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign
  • Balsamiq
  • Wordpress, Joomla, & Bootstrap
  • Gapminder, Highcharts, D3, Google charts, (Raphaël, Processing, Gephi, Tableau, Exhibit (Similie), Circos)
  • (Final cut, Maya, Blender)
  • Pen, paper, whiteboard, clay, cardboard, tape, glue, wood, laser cutters, 3D printers, string… whatever is lying around, and whatever it takes to create a thing useful enough to be a tool for speculation*.

*/ basically, an object that are "real" enough for real and realistic conversations around it. A thingamabob that allows developers, designers, and users to create meaning and common understanding. So we then can go on to make amazing stuff for the real world.

My fascinating CV-résumé-thing:


Key competences

interaction design, user experience, concept development, visualisations, typography

Key interests

cartography, information architecture, tangible interactions, illustration

Interests & hobbies

Mapping, drawing, biomimicry, painting, photography, calligraphy, typography, complex and associative data and information relations, hiking, graphic art, illustration, information architecture, system design, social media, scientific illustrations, literature, materiality, nature, evolution, tangible interactions


Courses: experimental design of IT, interaction design, ethics and science, computer-supported cooperative work, qualitative research methods, advancements in interaction design.

Master thesis Design for serendipity: a Research through Design approach

My thesis work was long and torturous, though I think that is pretty common. In effect, I wrote three thesises in the process: the first one on visualisations, visual processing, visual language, its history, uses and misuse. Here I ran amok among beautiful seafarers charts, Galileos night sky, his oculata certitudine (visible certainty), complex visualisations, their properties, variables, and history. Visual representations are tools for thinking, they are storage mechanisms, and research instruments.

The second on the relationship and intermingledness of art, science, and design (or rather, SEAD). Here I wallowed in the writing of professor Martin Kemp, found examples of - and analysed numerous artefacts, and addressed post-hoc rationalisations in these fields, which I believe (and strongly argued) are rife, dangerous, counterproductive, and dishonest (in short).

And finally, the one I handed in: speculative in method, methodology, and returns. Research through Design is about how we can gain knowledge through making, and view this knowledge and frame it in such a way, that it goes beyond the craft of making. How can making have a place in an academic setting, how can making inform knowledge-creation? These questions are not new per se, but they are new in the context of my thesis: in my faculty, and within human-computer interaction, informatics, and computer science.

This newness meant I met a lot of blank stares, and nervous peers and faculty. It was – academically speaking – dangerous. All new ground is. But to me, most of RtD thinking is blindingly obvious, uncontroversial, and most of all: tacit. Research through Design scholars merely formulate what I mainly already know. First and foremost, I am an artisan: I am a creator and maker that conducts research, instead of being a researcher that have to make something in order to do research.

The case I use, is books, and the concept of serendipity. Since much design in HCI traditionally is focused on the engineering mindset of drill-down and known-item retrieval, my two questions were:

  • RQ1: How can the concept of serendipity be explored through RtD?
  • RQ2: How can speculative visualisations enable serendipitous book finding?

The goal of my thesis was to open up for discourse. It was never my aim to answer anything definitely, but to create visual artefacts that can function as tools for speculation. These artefacts then become vehicles for appropriation, contradictory views, and new designs.

In the end, I presented for an internal and an external examiner, and received the top grade. The examiners were unanimously in their views, that my work was pushing important boundaries in HCI research, that it was work of high importance and quality, and that it was a significant contribution to the field and the community.

I was flabbergasted at all this: I knew my work was highly speculative, using new untested methods, leaning a little on a general way of thinking that refuses to be called a framework… put my work on less than solid ground, to say the least. There are formulas to follow in every faculty, in every research group, that makes success more likely. I pretty much ignored them all.

But, it is said, you can break all the rules, as long as you know you are breaking them, have good reasons for it, and can argue convincingly for it. Apparently, I did.

My thesis at duo.uio

Courses: Society and informatics, introduction to digital media, web-programming (PHP), dynamic web applications, digital documents, drama, media science, TV and film production, graphic design, game programming with Flash, intercultural communication, documents and web, 3D modelling and animation, information architecture, security and hacking, placement.

Bachelor thesis The Smithsonian Human Origin Database: relating scientific data through time and space

The thesis was a project on behalf of the physical anthropology department, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington D. C. The project was completed in a team with two other students, from the computer engineering programme. It spanned in theory one semester, but in reality closer to six months, approximately three of these was on-site in D. C.

The starting point for the project was a unique, cross-disciplinary database, covering data from numerous life sciences. Our task was to create a user interface and experience that could cater both to the scientist and the lay person, and to build the architecture and structure underlying this, utilising the content of the database in as creative ways as possible.

My tasks was fundamentally user interface, experience, graphic design, layout, html, css, integration of JS, and as facilitator between scientists, our team, and overarching control of the project.

On its most fundamental level, the project was about time and space: how to technically handle those variables, how to visualise them, how to link them conceptually. It is fair to say that this project deepened my interest in maps, and visualisations, and I have studied these issues ever since.

More about the project

The final report

Production throwing, kiln building, firing gas, wood, electric, and raku. Glaze chemistry and theory. Placements and workshop in Belfast with professor Takeshi Yashuda.

Apprenticeship. Hand binding literature. The image shows part of my final exam, a half-leather binding with coloured edge (top) and hand-tooled title.

Courses: ledger binding, machine binding, chemistry, leather, gilding, machine theory.

Courses: typography, offset and letterpress printing, bookbinding, preprint, postprint.

Courses: calligraphy and typography, freehand, colour theory, technical drawing, perspective, art history.

See my arty work here.


Pro bono, freelance UX and interaction design, system design, graphic design. Interaction design, graphic design, vector-work, print, photography, drawing, concept development, real-life applications, and prototyping.

Freelance and pro bono 2008-(2017)

Web, interaction, and graphic design

Interaction design, graphic design, vector-work, print, photography, drawing, concept development, real-life applications, and prototyping.

National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian institution, 04.2011-07.2012

Web, interaction, and graphic design

Building a web interface and information architecture to display large amounts of CT-scans and information from a large section of the Smithsonian collections.

Favourite Systems, 11.2010-03.2011

Web, interaction, and graphic design

Coding, structuring, implementing web pages, company blog, information architecture, and interaction design.

Uninett conference 06-07.2009

Web, interaction, and graphic design

Web, photography, interaction design, translations.

Schneider Electric, 06-08.2008

Graphic design

Graphic design and technical solutions for XML to InDesign catalogue solution.

(this section in progress)

Nortek develops doppler-based research instruments for measuring movement in water. Their products range from delicate laboratory instrumentation to large, deepsea systems for the continental shelf deployment. I worked eventually as a test engineer, with field work, testing, and data analysis.I was also responsible for ISO certification of parts of the production, health and safety in regards to chemicals, and graphic design.

I had a number of short-term-ish jobs. Mainly, I managed backpackers hostels in Derry and Belfast. For a few months I also worked in an architectural reclamation yard. Driving forklifts, lorries, answering phones, and a whole lot of carrying and driving slates, flagstones, bathtubs, church windows, pews, and paving all over Northern Ireland and the border. It was the hardest work I have ever done, but also very satisfying.

Technical support for home computers. I was the one asking you "can you see the little green light?" when your computer went haywire… Tech support requires a good deal of patience, listening skills, and an ability to gently steer angry people towards solutions. You might have experienced support as annoying, you feel they treat you like an idiot, but you will be surprised at the amount of calls that take ages, and it turns out the machine was not plugged in.

Hippopotamus was a company that focused on environmentally friendly print products and stationary. The product range came mainly from sustainable sources via German producers. The print shop catered to the business market in addition to producing various printed materials for wholesale to stationary shops. The structure of the business was "flat", meaning that everyone did almost everything. This means that I did pre-print and post-print in addition to operating the offset printing presses. And indeed: driving the delivery truck around Oslo about once a week.

Visual Squirrels: art, science, design, history blog

Together with three other people I run the website Visual Squirrels. We write articles on things we find interesting, with any angle of science, art, (natural) history, literature, anthropology, film, technology, and architecture. The site is just as much about being a continuous experiment in interaction, UX, and graphic design. For a web-developer / system-designer, it is a rare privilege to work on live sites that have a lot of content and that are wide open to experimentation. Please note that some things might be "broken", and some things incomplete, but this is our sandbox where we allow ourselves to test web development ideas, balancing on what is actually possible. Sometimes little happen there, sometimes lots of things happens all at once. See this article for a better explanation of the site.

Get in touch to discuss projects!

All the best – 



Some work…:


Just a few sites I have made, to exemplify three things: simplicity, information dense applications, and visual flexibility. Things should be made as simple as possible, but some things are complex, and should remain so.

Prototyping, conceptual, idea development…

Pen and paper, marker and whiteboard, Balsamiq, HTML & CSS, and physical doo-dads in prototyping.

Did I mention how to get in touch?

– Why is this page weird? It breaks! Are you a moron, looking for a job with a broken web page!?

– No, it is because it is constantly changing, I am working on it, and well aware of when and how it breaks. Refresh for changes, improvements, and nightly builds. Made with Bootstrap and Icomoon.

– But why is this in english when you are Norwegian in Norway?

– Because I am looking at international companies, both here and abroad.