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Design for sustainable living

Products, services, systems, and built environments can with a user-centered design approach be developed with the intention to support sustainable everyday behaviours, activities, and choices.

Workshop med ungdomar i projektet Koldioxidteater som utforskar vilken klimatpåverkan olika val i vardagen har.
Workshop with youngsters in the Carbon Dioxide Theatre project exploring how different everyday choices have different climate impact. The sizes of the balls represent the amount of carbon dioxide associated with different choices.

We must change the way we live to reach national and international targets for ecological, social, and economical sustainability, such as UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. However, these targets are not on our minds as we go about our daily lives. In everyday living we engage in different activities to achieve completely different types of targets such as getting to work or school, preparing meals, having fun, resting, or taking care of friends and family. These activities take place in varying physical and social context, such as at work or at home, indoors or outdoors, and both in public and private settings.

Why Design for sustainable living?

Even if we are not aware of it, most of our activities has impact from a sustainability perspective – positive or negative. With design methods and strategies for sustainable living, we can explore how everyday activities can be carried out with less negative impact and instead potentially have a positive impact. To do so, we start with understanding how people live and what sustainability impact their lifestyle has. We then use design strategies for sustainable living to create solutions that enable other ways of carrying out everyday activities. An example of a design solution for a person who needs to transport larger items with less climate impact than with a car would be an electric cargo bike. Another example is that the design and placement of an outdoor gym can influence which groups (in terms of age or gender, for instance) that utilise the gym.

How do we create sustainable solutions for people's everyday challenges?

We work with Design for sustainable living in research or with business and the public sector. In a design project on sustainable lifestyles, we often start by creating an understanding of people's current activities through observations, interviews, workshops, or other design-ethnographic methods. We can, in addition, measure behaviours, preferences, or sustainability impact, for example with sensors, questionnaires, or life cycle assessments. Then, we study relevant trends and developments in society. Based on this combined understanding, we design products, services, systems, or built environments that could enable other ways of carrying out these activities. We often prototype initial ideas and evaluate them with people in the intended use context. This way of working enables us to create sustainable and attractive solutions to people's everyday challenges.

Sara Renström

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Sara Renström

Senior Forskare

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Anna Sirkka

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Anna Sirkka

Studio Director and senior project manager

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