Week 11: Develop and Design


  • Research and contextualise how disciplines outside of the design industry could help you solve a design challenge.
  • Analyse how intercultural insights and appropriate media can be deployed to solve a creative problem.
  • Contextualise your research into a strategy to help solve the project.
  • Develop and design a creative solution to solve a design challenge that was posted on the Ideas Wall in Week 10.
  • Collaborate and provide feedback on the design solution made by another student to your original challenge on the Ideas Wall.


Contextualise your research into a strategy to help solve the project.

I have chosen J’s brief, because it captured my imagination when he presented it in the crit:


Here is some preliminary research I did on LA and water usage:

Notes scan_Page_1Notes scan_Page_4Notes scan_Page_2Notes scan_Page_5

Jay has also provided some context for me, via Whatsapp:


Callum utilised the Reddit community for his project to contact people in his area because we are all in a lockdown. Yay, Covid-19. I thought I could do the same. Here are the questions I posed, and answers I received (questions seen in the numbered list below):

Screenshot 2020-04-29 at 10.40.23

Perhaps Reddit is not going to give me the widest sample of people, true, and I have no way of verifying this information. It does highlight the difficulty of working from afar: how does one source reputable information from a community a long way away (and within a week, thanks Falmouth). If I had the luxury of travelling to LA, I would try asking questions in community centres, workplaces and public spots around different neighbourhoods to get a thorough idea of people and their lives through focus groups and interviews. From there I would build PERSONAS.

This interaction does give me information about population and its reaction to reducing water usage.

  1. Agriculture has a bad reputation (deservedly so) for high water usage, and therefore people feel their use is insignificant compared to major corporations
  2. There is a divide between people with high income and low income: those with low income feel that people high income use water frivolously because they do not have the same incentive to pay attention to water use (cost)

Going back to the Geert Hofstede and his six dimensions, I can look at how my perspective and that of a Los Angelian might be similar or diverge. Both the UK and US score very highly for individualism, which I would expect, compared to countries like China. This is important: to appeal to the Los Angelian, I need to apply a similar perspective to that of me and my community. In reducing water usage, what is in it for me? Appealing to the collective good might work on a few people, but to really make a mark on the overall population I should appeal to how water usage reduction can help them as households.

So I went back to the Service Design Tools website to use some of the tools they have on offer. I started building three personas based on what I have seen from LA so far – though I would try to build more thoroughly on these in normal times.

Now I have an idea who I am designing a solution for I can think about different ways to add intercultural knowledge. Although the user on Reddit was dismissive of personal water usage reduction when the agricultural industry uses so much water, I thought that I could put this into perspective. In 1969, the average person in LA used 189 gallons of water across residential and commercial settings. In 2015, that figure is 131 gallons, of which 67 are used in residential settings. Here are four other cities for comparison:


Clearly, even if some citizens feel that their water usage is low, citizens in other cities use less. Full disclosure, I’m not 100% the figures are comparable but the figures do suggest that LA uses more water.

Intercultural Insights

I live in London, near where a huge water plant that supplies fresh water to London. Just to the west is New River, which was built in 1631 to draw water from Herefordshire, River Lea and other local springs to central London.


Over the past five years, utility companies have been installing smart meters for gas and electricity so people can easily see what they are using and the cost. It allows peopelt to adjust their usage according to how much they want to spend.


If water ones were installed, then water usage could be monitored in the same way.

In Berlin, climate change has resulted in longer, hotter summers and the city has been devising ways in which to make sure its water supply is sustainable. One study suggests that “in the 1980s, with increasing success, to influence the use and consumption of water resources by applying economic instruments such as fees and price increases, along with subsidising water-saving gadgets and equipment. According to the Federal Statistical Offices of Germany, in 2007 the per-capita consumption of water in Berlin was estimated to be 112 litres per day as compared to 122 litres for the rest of Germany (Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland, 2009 & Amt für Statistik Berlin-Brandenburg 2009).” (Salian)

In addition, Berlin’s residents received 25 to 60 Euros /m² in subsidies for their investment in green roofs and further domestic measures can be credited:

  • “Higher tariffs for water to encourage customers to adopt a more economical use of water.
  • Effective publicity campaigns and well-organised public relations and instructions for water saving (in the 1980s first in West Berlin, later in the 1990s in the former Eastern sector of Berlin).
  • Temporary subsidies for the purchase and installation of water saving equipment. “


Saliently, it seems that PR played a huge part in people reducing water usage: “water issues in Berlin gained an important boost in public awareness during the 1980s, when environmental activism gained momentum.” (Salian)

This is impressive! It is a campaign that has taken nearly forty years, but one that has changed the city forever and made it a model for me to consider and draw intercultural insight from..

Small changes

Rather than expecting residents to make huge changes, I think small aims and goals would help people make sustainable long term changes.

Fab is an app that promotes healthy living and gives users a few things to do each day in order to build habits that last.

The Forest app is a productivity tool: you set a timer for an amount of time, and you see an animation of a tree growing over that time as motivation to not go on the internet or to waste time. The progress of seeing trees, and then a forest grow, is intended to be motivation to stay productive. I like the idea of having residents’ water usage shown in scale of saving water and how it can help the environment.

Develop and design a creative solution to solve a design challenge that was posted on the Ideas Wall in Week 10.

Going through my research, I think the best approach wuld be to combine the service with the current municipality system. This would give a thorough base and a way to integrate with the current system, as well as compiling information all over the web to one place.

The plan would fall into two categories: Smart Meter and Smartphone App.

Water meters

Smart meters provide real-time information about how much of a resource you are using, and make adjustments to your habits accordingly. By using existing technology, this scheme can allow a conumer to view all their energy and water usage in one place.

The visuals would be similar to the ones we are familiar with the UK.



This is connected to Smart Water Meter, or is can




Collaborate and provide feedback on the design solution made by another student to your original challenge on the Ideas Wall.

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One thought on “Week 11: Develop and Design

  1. Pingback: Week 11: Research – Anna Robinette

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