Design as an instrument to bring about change: applying the latest developments

Panel: Panel 2 Technology and Behaviour

L. Kuijer and A.M. De Jong, Applied Ergonomics and Design, Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands


In their daily lives, people engage in all kinds of activities during which they interact with products and use energy. Designers, through their design decisions, have influence on user behavior, and thus on resource consumption. However, products are often not used as the designer intended, which in turn influences the effects on resource consumption. Therefore, in order to anticipate on the effects of products, users need to be involved in the design process. This notion is essential for sustainable design, where unintended use can nullify or even ‘rebound’ the products’ desired effects. Furthermore, researchers in the field of Design for Sustainability (DfS) now argue that in order to reach sustainability, designers need to look beyond single products and their use, towards a more systemic approach of daily life. Meanwhile, researchers in sociology have been calling for similar ways of approaching DfS, exemplifying that effective change can be achieved when designers step away from products and take daily activities as the basic level of analysis.

Taking these developments into account, a design method is proposed that involves users in the context of their own home in developing innovations on the level of daily activities. This method was developed and tested within the context of the Living Lab design study. The pilot study on the activity of bathing indicated that this approach is capable of generating insights for innovations that yield strong reductions in resource consumption while fitting into daily life.


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