Heather McKinnon

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BBus, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba; M.IDEA, University of Sydney

Heather McKinnon 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, design theory and sustainability. Her prior studies have explored urban screens, responsive environments, tangible user interfaces, and interactive public art. In 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 domestic environments – focusing on food, water, energy and rubbish waste and conservation. She uses design-led research methods to investigate implications of everyday resource use, creating design artefacts and cultural probes from recycled materials to explore the home environment.

Research areas

  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Design Futures
  • Waste & Frugality in Design
  • Recycled Materials
  • Modern Mundanity
  • Design-led Artefacts

PhD Research: The [everyday] future by design: Exploring Everyday Resource Waste & Frugaity within the Home

Situated within the areas of design theory & sustainability, this design-led research explores cultures of resource waste and frugality within the home. Within the context of everyday life lie the mundane, ordinary rhythms and patterns that make up our days. Many writers and theorists such as De Certeau, Perec and Lefebvre 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. This research seeks to address this space, focusing on everyday domestic resources – food, water, energy and general waste. This study seeks to explore the mundane realities of everyday wastefulness/frugality in detail, identifying opportunities for design. The 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 the home environment in greater detail.

Eprints: https://eprints.qut.edu.au/view/person/McKinnon,_Heather.html