Workshop No.1

Setting up mental models to translate sustainability into practice

Workshop Workshop Folkwang University of Arts

Many books and papers have been written on sustainable lifestyles. Many websites are programmed, showing good practice and giving feedback on sustainable behaviour and consumption patterns. There are numerous sources of information on sustainable lifestyles or on how to inspire others to live sustainably; but reality shows, there is a surprising lack of real life implementations. Life is extremely complex already and now we are supposed to integrate all these sustainable criteria as well? We assume that most people, although motivated, are unable to cope with this task and give up trying.This workshop explores mental models as a possibility to integrate sustainability in our daily routines. Apple inc. created a well-known mental model everybody knows: the desktop of computers. Apple used the traditional desk as a metaphor to create a digital interface. By using familiar images of real desks, the interface made it possible to act intuitively. As a result users quickly learned how to handle an unfamilar and complex system. Could we invent mental models that would do just that for the changes, which sustainability requires us to implement into our daily lives? Could such mental models help people to change unsustainable habits?Mental models are reflections on parts of our reality, which are visualised and transferred into other environments. They can help to see things differently and reduce impressions of complexity. In our workshop we search for mental models, which enable people to live sustainably, effortlessly - if we can.We transfer documented sustainable approaches into daily life by inventing appropriate mental models.


Workshop No. 3

Time to change!

Workshop Bergische Universität

The term ‘sustainability’ is very much in use in the world of well-educated people these days. We can read about it in the newspaper, we hear companies name their business strategies ‘sustainable’, there are conferences, books, documentaries etc. available to point out and explain ‘sustainability’. Nevertheless, it remains an abstract term, which is rarely connected to peoples’ everyday life. People in general are aware of the big picture! We know that our resources are limited and that we are heading to consume our planet to death. A quote of the great strategist Sun Tzu characterizes the current situation: „People can know how to win, without being able to do so.“ Actually there is a lot of knowledge available how to master the disaster we are facing, but short-term interests, financial advantages, routines, comfort, habits and the fear of change are dominating the development. In this workshop we want to figure out, which are the options for change in the lives of individuals from diverse societies and cultural backgrounds. Every human being is unique and has a special lifestyle and different needs. Consumption patterns will be analyzed and critically reviewed by making use of existing knowledge and criteria for sustainability. The aim is to figure out, how ecological footprints can be reduced. Experiments and insights will be shared and communicated. Gathered experiences will finally be told in inspiring stories to stimulate people to change. Keep in mind: Informative stories transported by word of mouth are the most trusted ones.


Workshop No. 2

Design as a transformational narration

Workshop Ecosign Academy Cologne

Sustainability as a technical term is well-grounded in theory and research, but somewhat unclear when it comes to everyday lives in households and companies. The fundamental message is rather simple: We need to change our concepts of growth, consumption, production, emissions, and resource extraction in order to sustain a safe and wealthy life in a sound environment for ourselves and future generations.

Transferring this message into people’s everyday life, however, seems to be almost insurmountable for scientific or moral discourses. This is because of the iconic void of the word “sustainability“ itself, and because of the complexity of what sustainability actually means.

This is where design steps in! Design is more than transforming resources into products, information into messages, business models into services, human beings into consumers. Good design is telling a credible and convincing story, it has the strength to transform opinions, habits and lifestyles. This vigor of transformational narration affiliates design to the cultural heritages in which we are all rooted in.

In our workshop, we will...

1. explore the nature of sustainability transformations, the concept of narration, and how all human cultures have their share of these universal patterns.

2. discover how these patterns are omnipresent even in our personal cultures, and how strong their storytelling is.

3. translate these discoveries into down-to-earth design briefs in order to discover the transformational potential of narrative design.