Representing ENERGISE at the “Design Research for Connected Societies - Transforming the energy sector” workshop

Representing ENERGISE at the “Design Research for Connected Societies - Transforming the energy sector” workshop

On the 27th of October 2017, RISE Interactive and the Department of Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology jointly hosted a workshop during Dutch Design Week at the Designhuis in Eindhoven. The event sought to strengthen and grow a collaborative network that sets out to do nothing less than “changing the world” (Ambra Trotto, RISE Interactice, introductory talk). Participants included representatives of energy providers, NGOs, academic institutions and other research organisations, start-ups and SMEs. The ENERGISE project was represented by Julia Backhaus (Maastricht University).

An elaborate and intricate “framework for transformative practices” formed the basis for a collaborative process of ideation the group was guided through. The workshop method, however, was hands-on, highly interactive and very engaging. All sorts of objects and materials were available for participants to play with when co-constructing ideas (literally).

With an eye on global challenges, the focus was set on developing ideas for an energy initiative that brings about local change and connects to local hopes. After some discussion, our group decided to develop an initiative targeting energy use in companies and organisations in one district that takes the form of a collective challenge with a collective reward: the beautification of surroundings with lights and greenery. Our focus became a challenge rather than a competition because research conducted in the ENERGISE project has, besides several successful examples, brought to the fore the limiting and potentially even upsetting effects of competitive initiative designs.

Issues and concerns our group debated turned out to be highly relevant for the ENERGISE project: How to set an ambitious yet achievable energy savings target? How to provide feedback on energy use to individuals and the entire community involved in the challenge? How to engage everyone creatively and continuously? How to motivate when the target is still far off or close to being achieved? Our discussions very much resonated with the relevant observation that data are best viewed as a “tool for dialogue” (Lizette Reitsma, RISE Interactive, introductory talk) to engage and reflect.

You can get an impression of the day here.

Julia Backhaus, Maastricht University