Heather McKinnon

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The [everyday] future by design. Opportunities for the design exploration of everyday sustainability in the home.


Situated within the field of interaction design and HCI, this design ­led research is concerned with the development of ongoing creative and adaptable approaches towards everyday sustainability in urban environments.


Within the context of everyday life lie the mundane, ordinary rhythms and patterns that make up our days. Many writers and theorists such as Michael de Certeau, Georges Perec and William H. Whyte emphasise the value and potential that lies in the study of these mundane activities, suggesting that the critique of everyday life is vital to the continual questioning of our existence. My research seeks to address this space, focusing on everyday sustainability. This study seeks to explore the mundane realities of everyday urban life in detail, identifying opportunities for design to creatively contribute to a sustainable future.


This research builds upon past design interventions, contextual examples, design philosophy and literature. Grounded in the concept of ‘design futuring’ and coupled with the critical area of ‘undesign’, this research uses design-led methods such as cultural probes and design artefacts to explore modern mundanity in greater detail.




Heather is a PhD student in the Urban Informatics Research Lab in the School of Design. She is a designer and researcher with a background and interest in interaction design and human-computer interaction. Her past studies have explored urban screens, responsive environments, tangible user interfaces, and generative art. In late 2012, Heather worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Sydney’s Design Lab, working with a team of designers investigating the public display of domestic energy consumption. In 2013, she was part of a collaboration that exhibited an interactive art installation in Vivid Sydney. Heather’s current research interests cover environmental sustainability in everyday urban environments, focusing on modern mundanity. Her PhD is conducted using a lens of speculative design, and employs design-led research methods to investigate implications of everyday resource use.