Interview: Annelise De Jong, Interactive Institute

Annelise de Jong is a senior researcher at Interactive Institute Swedish ICT. She holds a PhD in industrial design and she is assistant professor at the Industrial Design faculty at Delft university of Technology in the Netherlands. Her experience ranges from design for comfort in workplaces to Living Lab research. Her current research revolves around social practices and design in the context of the home and sustainable urban living areas.

What is your biggest research challenge?

Despite energy awareness campaigns, there has been an increase in household energy consumption over the last 10 years. We do see a trend of awareness and understanding, but little knowledge of what to do and less trust in information. Through my research I'm looking for possible intervention points to change the current trend of increasing consumption into other directions. My vision is that the comfortable choice will be the sustainable choice, but this research should be carried out and sustained at system- or urban level rather than individual level.

What can we learn from studying daily doings in the home?

We have identified socially shared practices in the home – e.g. cooking, bathing – as a promising way of tapping into people's habits and conventions. Existing patterns are disrupted and new patterns evolve when you introduce or remove products or services that may or may not work. We need to understand how these patterns work in order to design products that support practices for future sustainable living.

How do you observe people's habits?

We engage people in workshops and various kinds of assignments at home. Doing research in people's homes means interrupting their daily routines, and the challenge is to capture the automated habits and conventions that people don't reflect on. People are more aware about sustainability today and actively discuss their lives with others. We tap into these social interactions and empower people to explore new pathways for everyday life within existing and future urban systems.

This interview was published in our annual report 2013.