Welcome to behaviour changing products – exploring how design changes lives!

– By Leyla Acaroglu

Nearly everything that we encounter in our day to day lives has been designed. And therefore designers can have a awesome impact on peoples lives and are in a position to design goods and services with intent, with the understanding and desire to create a positive impact on the people who encounter their creations. This is behavior changing design!

The things that fill our lives influences our behaviors and changes our minds, bodies and perceptions of the world. Just look around you and see all the material goods and designed spaces that you are encountering constantly. The computer you are reading this on through to the chair in which you sit are all influencing your actions and generating reactions.

This blog is all about exploring and addressing real world problems by exploring behavior changing products by design. Here we have compiled reviews, case studies and examples of behavior changing products, services and environments.

Take for example the Eco Kettle (pictured below) which was designed to solve the issue of over-filling electric kettles and therefor wasting huge amounts of energy in boiling un-needed water. This is such as problem in the United Kingdom (where 97% of homes own an electric kettle) that it has been reported that all the wasted energy from one day of over-filled kettles could light half the street lights in the UK for a night! The Eco Kettle addressed this issue through the addition of a boiling chamber separate from the reservoir that holds the water. So when you fill it up you don’t fill the boiling chamber you just fill the reservoir and when you want to oil water you have to push the button on the top making you physically engage with the product and aware of the amount of water you are putting in it!

The Eco Kettle

The use phase is often forgotten about in products designed to reduce their environmental impacts (eco-design). But studies show that in some cases large percentages of the environmental impacts of the products that fill our lives are attributed to the way in which the product is used or unintentionally mis-used. The design is what communicates a particular type of behavior to the user and has the potential to dramatically change actions.

There are so many products and environments in need of behavior changing design solutions. From washing machines that change washing habits, fridge’s that reduce food waste, communal services like hand towel dispensers that prevent wastage. The Fun Theory is an excellent example of how good intentioned design can positively effect and change people’s behaviors.

Read on to find out more!