The Design Problem
A predominant cultural shift is underway, as societies begin to embrace the real-world implications of sustainable design. This shift has been described in a number of ways, including “slow design” or “act local, think global”; each description attempts to capture the nature of living a life that brings raw materials and production closer in proximity to their origins. By utilizing resources that are locally produced, and by disposing of these resources in a way that supports the local environment, a regional value system can be established that affords sustainable practices and that financially supports the local culture.
Design an object, interface, system, or service intended to support the idea of utilizing or consuming local resources rather than global resources, in a sustainable and environmentally efficient manner. Use methods of ethnography and contextual research to understand the problem space, and develop user-centered design solutions to support, assist, enhance or otherwise benefit your target audience. Your solution could address the methods of production or transportation of local resources, or could focus on the consumptive and disposal processes; whatever the focus, however, the solution must clearly illustrate positive value to both local stakeholders and to the local environment in your respective region.
To enter the competition, student teams may present either a concept (a clear, detailed design specification that can be taken to prototype), or a fully realized prototype. Either way, teams must clearly illustrate their design decisions and demonstrate the user centered design processes that have been followed. Additionally, as this problem has a broad cultural and social focus, “system design thinking” is encouraged. We strongly encourage consideration of:
* Previous work in this area and in adjacent areas
* Ethnography and contextual research to ground your design decisions
* Elaboration of methods for evaluating your designs within your iterative design framework