Gaver, Michael, Kerridge, Ovale, Plummer-Fernandez, Wilkie & Gabrys: ECDC



ECDC is a speculative design project developed as a collaboration between the departments of sociology and design at Goldsmiths, University of London. Funded by the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy Program, ECDC is one of several projects that explore how the UK can reduce its energy consumption by 80 percent before 2050. ECDC’s design process combines a number of methodologies, including fieldtrips, workshops, and the distribution of cultural probe packs in communities such as Whitehill Bordon Eco Town and Low Carbon Living Ladock. The workshops explore questions, such as ‘How is people’s engagement with technology affected by who they trust?’ In 2014, ECDC distributed Energy Babble devices to thirty homes. The Energy Babble is a domestic appliance that broadcasts comments and sounds sent from a network of Babbles. The ECDC team describes the Energy Babble as “familiar, playful, [and] ambiguous” and designed to provoke debate within communities. With the Babble network device, ECDC explores the imaginative and emotional dimension of energy usage and what they call the “potential” of people’s imaginative application of technologies. 


Professor William Gaver leads the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths, University of London. His research on design-led methodologies and innovative technologies for everyday life led him to develop an internationally renowned studio bringing the skills of designers together with expertise in ubiquitous computing and sociology. With the studio, he has developed approaches to design ranging from cultural probes to the use of documentary film to help assess peoples’ experience with designs. He has pursued conceptual work on topics such as ambiguity and interpretation, and produced highly finished prototypes that have been deployed for long-term field trials. He has exhibited internationally at venues such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Britain, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. He has published over seventy articles and is an elected member of the Computer–Human Interaction (CHI) Academy. Professor Gaver currently holds an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant and is principal investigator of ECDC. 

Professor Mike Michael is a sociologist of science and technology. His research interests include the relation of everyday life to technoscience, biomedical innovation, and culture, the interface of the material and the social, and process methodology. Recent research has addressed the complexities of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis clinical trials (with Marsha Rosengarten), the interdisciplinary use of sociological and speculative design techniques to explore energy demand reduction (with the ECDC project team), and the development of an ‘idiotic methodology’. He has authored six books and over one hundred papers and chapters. Michael is a co-editor of The Sociological Review. 

Dr Tobie Kerridge is based at the Interaction Research Studio, University of London. His PhD thesis explored the mixing of speculative design and public engagement with science and technology in two public engagement projects: biojewellery and material beliefs. Kerridge has helped develop an innovative mixed method approach to design research, with a recent focus on community and energy reduction. Kerridge is co-convener of MA Design: Interaction Research, which offers a research-based approach to interaction design. Kerridge’s work has been exhibited internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Design Triennial in Beijing. 

Liliana Ovalle is a London-based designer from Mexico who graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2006. Her work includes commissions and production pieces for Plusdesign Gallery, Nodus, and Anfora among others. Liliana designs objects where the functional and the aesthetic components are accompanied by a reflection on some contemporary life aspects. She pays special attention to inquiring themes such as the “incomplete” and the “unrehearsed” observed in the urban context. In 2006 she received the Talent Award by the British Council and in 2008 the Mexican Clara Porset Special Award. Her designs have been selected for multiple exhibitions including Design Miami, Gallery Libby, Sellers and Museo Poldi Pezzoli. Since 2011 Liliana is researcher at the Interaction Research Studio, Goldsmiths University of London. In April 2011 she joined the collective Okay Studio based in North London. Her project Sinkhole Vessels, the first collaboration with Colectivo 1050º, is part of the permanent collection at Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

Matthew Plummer-Fernandez is a British/ Colombian artist and designer who makes work that critically and playfully examines new sociocultural entanglements with emerging technologies. His current interests span bots, algorithms, automation, copyright and filesharing. Based in New Cross, London, he is also a research associate and technologist at the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths College, University of London. 

Dr Alex Wilkie has worked at the intersection between design and science and technology studies (STS) for over twelve years. Wilkie studied interaction design at the Royal College of Art and was awarded his PhD in sociology, based on an ethnographic study of user-centred design. He was an original member of govcom. org, a group who designed and developed the Issuecrawler, an online tool for tracing and visualising controversy on the web and has been a member of the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmith, University of London since 2006. Wilkie is particularly interested in exploring computational technology and the politics of participation in issue-oriented design as well as inventive research methods and research through design. He currently works on topics including the design of energy and climate change, healthcare informatics and technological interventions into domestic living. Wilkie is also committed to developing sociological accounts of design practice, drawing on his engagement with developments in actor-network theory and process sociology. 

Prior to joining the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, Dr Jennifer Gabrys was Senior Lecturer and Convenor of the MA in Design and Environment in the Department of Design at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research investigates environments, material processes and communication technologies through theoretical and practice-based work. Projects within this area include a recently published book, Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (University of Michigan Press, 2011), which examines the materialities of electronic waste; and a written study currently underway on citizen sensing and environmental practice, titled Program Earth: Environment as Experiment in Sensing Technology. Gabrys is currently Principal Investigator on the European Research Council starting grant, Citizen Sensing and Environmental Practice: Assessing Participatory Engagements with Environments through Sensor Technologies.