I am a researcher, teacher and writer in Design-for-Sustainability. I focus especially on everyday design, maker culture and urban activism in sustainability transformation.
I am Professor in Design for Sustainability at Umeå Institute of Design in Sweden. I recently completed a postdoctoral research period in Aalto University, Finland, in the INUSE Users and Innovation Research group. I was also PI of the postdoctoral research project Making the Next (Sustainable) Industrial Revolution from the Grassroots, funded by the Nessling Foundation. You can read my doctoral dissertation Making Sustainability, which was awarded with Distinction, from Aalto ARTS books, here.
My areas of expertise as a Science & Technology Studies scholar include qualitative research (especially Symbolic Interactionism, the social worlds framework, ethnographic and participant / non-participant methods) in documenting and analysing technology subcultures.
As a design researcher and teacher, I have published on and taught sustainable product-service system design, design for social innovation, design for a circular economy, design for distributed economies, values-in-design in the design of products and technologies, and collaborative- and co-design.
I particularly examine values-in-design in material peer production, where DIY maker activists and active citizens are enabled to design and product their own products, tools and technologies as an alternative to mass production and consumption.
Maker subcultures also design their own collaboration processes and group governance, as alternatives to hierarchical management, often in shared community workshops like fab labs, makerspaces, hacklabs and hackerspaces.
And active people in cities mobilize from the grassroots to address neglected environmental issues, reclaim public space and protect cultural heritage, and collaboratively, materially experiment with new ways to Do-It-With-Others in the city.
How can the grassroots transform the mainstream in sustainability transformation?
Makers lobby to contribute to regional and global socio-technical imaginaries on technology, the digitalizing society and democratizing industrial production. As lead users, makers’ techno-utopian visions and their everyday practices in fab labs are at the forefront of industrial transition.
The most environmentally oriented activists draw others into material engagement with “sustainability” to make visible and visceral material flows and the impacts of consumption.
These technology subcultures are therefore living today what others will experience in future, and urban decision-makers, manufacturing industries, scientists and policy-makers are starting to pay attention.
Design research methods such as critical making and Participatory Design workshops can be strategically designed to create dialogue about these alternatives and to collaborate with grassroots communities in knowledge-making. Together we – academia, industry and civil society – can foster deeper understanding of sustainability collectively, and we can develop products and services that better meet people’s needs, strengthen community resilience and foster participation in society.