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Static! explored design as a basis for increasing awareness of energy. A range of domestic furnishing and products were redesigned to express electricity consumption, to make energy more visible and material in everyday life. The Static! design research program built on two main ideas: that we, as designers, can work with energy not only from a technical but also from an aesthetic point of view; and that product use need not only be about utility and ease-of-use but also about critical reflection on energy through the objects at hand. From the collection of design examples produced in Static!, several prototypes were deployed in evaluation studies, expert forums and public exhibitions.

Initiated to seed an Interactive Institute studio focused on energy, Static! was the first design research project funded by the Swedish Energy Agency. It was set up to include a variety of design perspectives from arts and crafts to interaction design and engineering brought together within the common research program. Outcomes included research publications across multiple disciplines, international awards for design and innovation, patents and spin-off commercial ventures. Resulting processes and prototypes speak to a variety of audiences, including academia, industry, municipal agencies, media and the general public. In response, the Swedish Energy Agency founded the dedicated research program 'Design, Energy and IT'. Static! is an example of design research piloting new and vital areas of research and innovation.

Images (above)
(1) Power-Aware Cord, photo by Carl Dahlstedt for the Static! book, (2) Erratic Radio in a domestication study, photo by Sara Routarinne, and (3) Flower Lamp in the touring Visual Voltage exhibition, photo by Tina Finnas.

My role
Static! was carried out by two studios at the Interactive Institute. As director of one of the studios, I was one of the two main responsible for initiating and conducting the project, including its strategy, funding, organization, budget, personnel, representation and reporting. At different times in the project, I was responsible for research direction in one and, for some time, both, studios, in charge of research content, quality and supervision. I was also active as a researcher throughout, and I produced and edited the book about Static!.

Static! was primarily funded by the Swedish Energy Agency in 2004-2006. Project lead: Christina Öhman; Research directors: Sara Ilstedt Hjelm, Ramia Mazé, Johan Redström; Project team: Alex Allen, Sara Backlund, Sara Danielsson, Anders Ernevi, Anton Gustafsson, Magnus Gyllenswärd, Sara Ilstedt Hjelm, Margot Jacobs, Caroline Karlsson, Andreas Kvarnström, Kari Leppimaa, Mattias Ludvigsson, Andreas Lykke-Olesen, Ulrika Löfgren, Ramia Mazé, Carolin Müller, Linnéa Nilsson, Samuel Palm, Johan Redström, Kerstin Sylwan, and Christina Öhman; Project partner: Front Design (Sofia Lagerkvist, Charlotte von der Lancken, Anna Lindgren, and Katja Sävström). The project included extensive collaboration with companies, universities and cultural organizations, listed on the project webpage.

More about the project

See also

/ Teaching / Thesis projects / Sara Danielsson, ‘3 Steg för Nytt Stadsliv’, MA in Design, 2005.

/ Teaching / Thesis projects / Carolin Müller, 'Energy Curtain', MSc thesis in Textile Engineering, 2005.

/ Teaching / Thesis projects / Mattias Ludvigsson, ‘Reflection through interaction’, MSc in Interaction Design, 2005.

/ Teaching / Thesis projects / Kerstin Sylwan, 'Solparasit', MA in Design, 2005.

/ Publications / Mazé, R., Gregory, J., and Redström, J. (2011) ‘Social Sustainability’.

/ Publications / Bergström, J., Clark, B., Frigo, A., Mazé, R., Redström, J., and Vallgårda, A. (2010) ‘Becoming Materials’.

/ Publications / de Jong, A., and Mazé, R. (2010) ‘Cultures of Sustainability’.

/ Publications / Mazé, R. (ed), Öhman, C., Backlund, S., Redström, J., Mazé, R., Ilstedt Hjelm, S., and Routarinne, S. (2010) Static! Designing for Energy Awareness.

/ Publications / Mazé, R. (2010) ‘RE: Thinking Sustainability’, in D. Keyson and S. Jin (eds), Designing for Sustainable Living & Working.

/ Publications / Mazé, R., and Redström, J. (2009) ‘Difficult Forms’.

/ Publications / Mazé, R. (2008) ‘Criticality Meets Sustainability’.

/ Publications / Mazé, R. (2007) Occupying Time.

/ Publications / Mazé, R., and Redström, J. (2007) ‘Difficult Forms’.

/ Publications / Backlund, S., et al. (2006) ‘Static!’.

/ Publications / Mazé, R. (2005) ‘Joining Tradition and Innovation in Design Research Projects’.

/ Publications / Jacobs, M., Löfgren, U., and Mazé, R. (2005) ‘Free Energy’.

/ Publications / Redström, J., Redström, M., and Mazé, R. (eds) (2010 [2005]) IT+Textiles.