The road from idea to pilot

Say you're a design philosophy.‘Users as Designers’ to be precise. You were developed by Waag and are available in a publicationYour core values are empathy, subjective interpretation, personal intuition, and trust. You focus on the ‘future user,’ who you want to participate in the early stage of the design process, to make the end result more meaningful. They call this process co-creation: designers and users working together in different roles. Because you are flexible and spontaneous, you are used often. You create interesting interactions—sometimes by using LEGO or scrap materials, sometimes by using role play or scenarios.

In other words, you carry a variety of formats in your arsenal. And your colleagues at Waag adore you. But people outside are curious, too. So you travel and meet new people; sometimes in a presentation, but more often in a session on location. And if they are really charmed, you might stay even longer—like at WWF Zürich.

In the Summer of 2013, Meia Wippoo and Janine Huizenga developed a family workshop for the project, DecarboNet, to discover what role energy (and its consumption) plays within small communities and what values accompany it. This workshop format was tested with families and optimized in a downloadable game (a 'Utility Toolkit') that families could play.

Project partner, WWF Switzerland (Zürich), took this format as a starting point for work on new themes and campaigns in their own community. We traveled to Zürich to train WWF employees in both this format, and—more importantly—the ‘Users as Designers’ method. The insights they gathered in their family workshops made WWF a valuable partner for IKEA Switzerland.

IKEA wanted to start a pilot to promote saving energy among their customers. WWF developed an adapted version of the Utility Toolkit to use with the 26 families in their pilot.

This storytelling strategy will hopefully inspire other families to make changes in their behaviours and domestic situations. The IKEA pilot runs until April 2015. Along with the family reports, they'll also take a look at the ‘hard’ data (like energy bills and measurement results). We are curious to see the results, which we will use to further develop our methods.

You encounter many things on your travels. And you learn more on each occasion. That's the secret of your beauty—your fluidity. What's your next destination?



Suzanne Heerschop