How about dinner?

Concepts and methods in designing for sustainable lifestyles

Authored by: Annelise de Jong , Ramia Mazé

Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Product Design

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138910171
eBook ISBN: 9781315693309
Adobe ISBN:


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Consumption is increasingly in focus within approaches to sustainable development, with the notion of sustainable consumption raising new issues for design. In designing to reduce the consumption of energy, water and other resources, for example, we need to consider the socio-cultural complexity of consumers’ perceptions, actions and routines. Pointing to two such projects in the areas of domestic electricity use and bathing practices, we reflect here upon limitations in concepts and methods common in user centered and sustainable design and, consequently, how we have been further developing our conceptual and methodological frames of reference as design researchers to include these social aspects. We also report on an additional project that draws on these new frames of reference to study ways of doing cooking within diverse households, in which we gained insights into how the many resources, products and artefacts involved in food management are deeply embedded in traditions, meanings and aspirations. Issues of environmental sustainability, such as water, energy and waste, are at stake in such design research but, as we argue, so is attention and sensitivity to how these are interwoven in meaningful socio-cultural practices. Through this chapter, we discuss implications of further incorporating approaches to the social from other fields into design research and education and vice versa what the social sciences might learn from design for sustainable consumption.

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