Aware Project by the Interactive Institute



Industrial designer Karin Ehrnberger and interaction designer Loove Broms of the Interactive Institute in Sweden have designed a series of household objects highlighting energy consumption in daily activities.


The Aware project consists of six objects: a clock, light switch, chandelier, radiator handle and two lamp designs. The Laundry Lamp and Energy Aware Clock are currently on show as part of an exhibition called Visual Voltage at the House of Sweden in Washington.


The Aware Laundry Lamp (above) aims to encourage people to hang-dry their clothes as opposed to using a tumble dryer, one of the greatest consumers of energy in the home. Clothing hung on the frame diffuses the light and acts as a lamp shade.


The Aware Chandelier (above) explores the aesthetic qualities of compact fluorescent light bulbs.


The Energy Aware Clock (above) displays household energy consumption in real-time and allows comparisons with the previous day's consumption to be made through overlaid graphic visualisations. It also functions as an ordinary clock.


The Aware Puzzle Switch (above) is a household light switch that aims to encourage people to turn off lights by exploiting our "built-in desire for order". The puzzle only appears complete when in the off position.


The Aware Handle (above and below) is a radiator handle with teeth in the surface, designed to be more comfortable to use when decreasing temperature than increasing.


The Share Aware Lights (below and top image) are a series of portable, radio-controlled lights which divide a fixed amount of energy between them. As one light is made brighter the other lights in the series dim to compensate.


Further information from the designers is below:


The AWARE project is a research project exploring how we can use design as a tool to make energy use more visible in the every day life. It is a continuation on the Static! project where concepts like the Flower Lamp, the Element and the Power Aware Cord where developed. In the AWARE project we have continued to focus on and explore, how we can redesign and merge different objects in the household to create reflection, awareness and transfer behavioural patterns.

The design examples are: AWARE Laundry Lamp, Energy AWARE Clock, AWARE Puzzle Switch, AWARE Chandelier, AWARE Handle and Share AWARE Light. AWARE Laundry Lamp and the Energy AWARE Clock are now part of the Visual Voltage exhibition currently shown the House of Sweden in Washington.

All concepts are designed by industrial designer, Karin Ehrnberger and interaction designer, Loove Broms at the Interactive Institute.


AWARE Laundry Lamp is an attempt to combine positive symbols and activities such as hang-drying your clothes outside in the sun, with designing your own lampshade. At the same time you can make a statement with the kind of laundry you put on display. Switching on the lamp helps in drying the clothes even faster as well as adding ambience to the room. The lamp encourages hang-drying instead of tumble-drying clothes, an alternative that drastically reduces electricity consumption on a large scale. Tumble dryers are one of the greatest consumers of electricity at home.


Energy AWARE Clock is designed to make energy awareness a part of everyday life. The clock visualises the daily energy rhythms of the household on a 24 hour clock and is intended to function like an ordinary kitchen clock, both in form, place and use. The clock shows electrical utilisation of the household in real time. If the dishwasher is switched on it shows immediately on the display of the unit. Yesterday’s graphs fade away slowly and today’s consumption is drawn on top of previous days, making it possible to compare your current electricity consumption with yesterdays and the day before yesterday.


The AWARE Puzzle Switch is an on/off button designed to encourage people to switch of their light, by playing with people’s built-in desire for order. It also gives much more feedback of its current state than a traditional switch.


The AWARE Chandelier puts focus on the aesthetics and use of low energy light bulbs. It combines the design and status of a classic cut-glass chandelier with modern materials and low energy light bulbs. Through the AWARE Chandelier we place the low energy lamp, an energy-saving product that are often considered as something ugly and boring, in a new context.


The AWARE Handle is a radiator handle that makes it more comfortable for the hand to lower the temperature than to increase it. It also visualizes the current state of the handle with help of info-graphics that does not only use the traditional numbers (1-4) but icons angled towards informing about different consequences resulting from the different states of the handle.


Share AWARE Light is a series of portable, radio controlled, light sources that in a poetic way share a fixed amount of light. For example, when one lamp is is dimmed up by a certain a amount, the others are dimmed down by an equally shared amount. Light are used where needed the most.

Posted on Friday May 29th 2009 at 8:15 am by Brad Turner. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • jeff K

    There seems to be many designs coming out right now that are aimed at ‘energy awareness’. The ‘research’ seems to involve coming up with something poetic or beautiful, and much of the energy seems to go into the quality of the final product.
    I would be interested to see some actual research into whether these ‘awareness’ products actually effect energy use long term, or if they are just pleasant little stories that make up nice exhibitions. Human habits are extremely complicated, and it seems silly to make assumptions on how these can be changed.
    I hate to be critical of people who are obviously trying to do something good, but I also feel that research in the design world always feels dumbed down and focused on physical objects rather than actual research. This does little for the credibility of the field.
    I like beautiful objects and I like interesting research. It frustrates me when one dilutes the other.

  • Marc Bell

    I complety agree with Jeff K, there are to many designs at the moment that highlight the need to reduce energy consumption, that unfortunatly dont actually contribute hugely to the cause.

  • onvn

    Agree with Jeff K! Some of these designs are mere idealisations of energy efficiency and energy awareness and not an aim for a better future.. I question the designer’s intentions somewhat.. pure design or energy awareness?

  • Jo

    This is probably the wrong blog for this kind of work. There are other ones with more enlightened and educated readerships where work like this is appreciated for it is rather than dismissed for what it is not.

    Don’t squander good work here, let them enjoy their cake!

  • Panos

    Every little helps…people don’t have to be so negative for such an inspiring work.
    It might not be super efficient to dry you clothes for example around a lamp, But its an interesting idea that would make some people use the tumple drier less than normal…
    Also the same applies to the rest of the pieces…some designers design based on pure research some design based more on emotions and reactions…both are needed.

  • superjonsson

    I know that Interactive Institute is nothing like this. Both the AWARE and the Static! projects carried on for several years and where grounded in qualitative user studies both in early stage of development and afterwards.
    I think that the focus here is not to directly evaluate whether the specific prototypes actually reduce electricity consumption but rather to gain knowledge and understand the possibilities on how artefacts should look and behave, what social roles they might play, in desirable future scenarios like sustainable living.
    The design examples should be seen as materialized discussions around a way to map out a design space towards awareness and longer-term engagement. It is not their primarily focus whether they actually work or not.

  • nitin saxena

    it is quite good work….