Research Papers

Affordances and Product Design to Support Environmentally Conscious Behavior

[+] Author and Article Information
Jayesh Srivastava

e-mail: j.srivastava@mail.utoronto.ca

L. H. Shu

e-mail: shu@mie.utoronto.ca
Department of Mechanical
and Industrial Engineering,
University of Toronto,
5 King's College Road,
Toronto, ON M5S 3G8, Canada


1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received July 31, 2012; final manuscript received August 2, 2013; published online September 5, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Janet K. Allen.

J. Mech. Des 135(10), 101006 (Sep 05, 2013) (8 pages) Paper No: MD-12-1389; doi: 10.1115/1.4025288 History: Received July 31, 2012; Revised August 02, 2013

We developed an affordance-based methodology to support environmentally conscious behavior (ECB) that conserves resources such as materials, energy, etc. While studying concepts that aim to support ECB, we noted that characteristics of products that enable ECB tend to be more accurately described as affordances than functions. Therefore, we became interested in affordances, and specifically how affordances can be used to design products that support ECB. Affordances have been described as possible ways of interacting with products, or context-dependent relations between artifacts and users. Other researchers have explored affordances in lieu of functions as a basis for design, and developed detailed deductive methods of discovering affordances in products. We abstracted desired affordances from patterns and principles we observed to support ECB, and generated concepts based on those affordances. As a possible shortcut to identifying and implementing relevant affordances, we introduced the affordance-transfer method. This method involves altering a product's affordances to add desired features from related products. Promising sources of affordances include lead-user and other products that support resource conservation. We performed initial validation of the affordance-transfer method and observed that it can improve the usefulness of the concepts that novice designers generate to support ECB.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Water-conservation-enabling shower concept

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Collapsible helmet with segmented internal plates, adapted from Anderson et al. [36]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Reusable coffee cup with removable liner, adapted from Pienkow et al. [37]



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