Living in developed countries with superior infrastructures and seemingly unlimited access to the ubiquitous things, we tend to forget that resources are not infinite and need to be taken care of. Current smart home solutions for regulating and optimising consumption give little to no information to the user on their behaviour and routine. Although every device in our home is a data touchpoint, hardly any of this is reflected in our living space, where we most need it.

Current solutions for tracking personal data rely heavily on numbers, graphs and alerts. All of these things are hard to form an emotional relationship with. Moving objects on the other hand are fascinating to people because we ascribe life to them and want to take care of them. Data presented in a tangible and easily understandable way creates intrinsic motivation to change one’s behaviour.

In cooperation with Space 10 and IKEA we developed “Smart” – a dynamic art-based solution for people to track and reward themselves for their sustainable consumption behaviour. The idea is that you maintain sustainable living at home by maintaining your art piece. The art piece receives real-time information from water and heating sensors around your home and adjusts its appearance based on your consumption. The blue and red coloured layers representing water and heating fade out and turn into white when the user exceeds sustainability guidelines for consumption, leading the art piece to lose contrast.

“Smart” takes data out of the digital world and brings into homes to better inform and motivate us. It is not just a delightful and dynamic art installation, but also a companion which responds to our behaviour in real-time.

Our homes and the objects in them tell our unique stories – the collection of objects we have in it are carefully chosen and they are part of our daily routine. “Smart” fits into this story and becomes an object of daily routine.

Design Process:
“Smart” is the result of an iterative design process. We held interviews with several smart home technologists and young homeowners on their future vision of homes and technology. We got users to create cognitive maps of their living and working spaces. We gave them future scenarios and asked them to imagine life under different limiting circumstances.

Afterwards we brainstormed on possible solutions and started experimenting with different materials right away. We were inspired by tangible data visualisations but still found them data heavy and hard to interpret. That’s why we wanted to use a simple layer that leaves little room for interpretation and still looks engaging enough to pull you in. We decided on using colour coding which is simple enough to be interpreted by all members of a family – young or old – and delightful enough to become a conversation starter between you and your guests.