Sustainability and Design (SD)

The Sustainability and Design research group aims to contribute to redirecting human modes of planetary habitation towards sustainment. We do that through a focus on the role of design in the sustainability of artefacts, including digital ones, and the practices that they shape.

The sustainability of an artefact is for a large part decided in the design phase, in which choices about materials, energy use, lifespan, repair, and circularity are made. However, when these design decisions are taking place, their implications are not known. Later, when the artefact is in use, it is difficult to change it - it becomes part of a social ecology and new practices are formed around it.

Our understanding of sustainability is guided by the Planetary Boundaries framework and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): securing the social foundation for people everywhere now and in the future, while staying within planetary boundaries.

Our vision is to contribute to the on-going transition towards sustainable futures through the transformation of technologies and practices.

Our interdisciplinary team shares a practice-based approach, combined with theoretical understandings from Information Systems, Science and Technology Studies, and Interaction Design. Our exploratory and qualitative methodologies, such as ethnography, systems thinking, research through design, and service design, are informed by a critical research paradigm and put into practice in our Sustainability & Design Lab.

Sustainability and Design Lab

Sustainability & Design Lab

The Sustainability & Design Lab is a research and design lab in which we engage hands-on with sustainability through design and practice-based activities. The Sustainability & Design Lab is a meeting place for all researchers and students working on sustainability issues at IFI. The Sustainability & Design Lab has its own website (forthcoming).

Our projects
Our research activities are within the production and consumption of products and practices; the design and development of new methodologies and methods for the transition to sustainable futures; studies of technological innovations in every day use; and sustainability through optimisation. We also work together with market actors to facilitate the integration of sustainability in their activities and decision-making.

  • In Futuring Sustainable Nordic Busines Models (Futuring Nordics, 2019 - 2022), a research project financed by UiO:Norden, the Sustainability and Design research group investigates method and techniques for designing sustainable business models with a different stakeholders. The overall methodology is Transition Design,  a design approach to fostering system-level change for sustainable futures.
  • In Sustainable Market Actors for Responsible Trade (SMART, 2016 - 2020), a research project financed by the EU’s Horizon2020 programme, the Sustainability and Design research group investigates the social and environmental sustainability in the lifecycle of electronics. We study in particular the design, obsolescence, repair, and recycling of mobile phones in order to contributes to sustainable design and use practices of mobile phones and other digital consumer goods.
Tags: sustainability, design, transition, systems thinking, repair, recycling, e-waste, service design, Design Thinking
Published May 19, 2018 7:42 PM - Last modified Jan. 30, 2020 2:55 PM


Maja van der Velden - research contact

Alma Leora Culén - design contact