top of page

Design your way of out the climate disaster

The design profession just as well as any other needs to get their act together and work towards a sustainable world. There are many crisis that we have to deal with currently. A loss of biodiversity, the water crisis, resource scarcity and overconsumption but also inequality and, of course, carbon emissions. The latter being quite apparent at the moment in the media as everyone can actually see and feel for herself that something is up. Something is not quite right. As this has also been my focus of late I decided to spread the word even more. So when I had the chance to speak at this years UX Barcamp in Hamburg I did not hesitate. In fact I invested some time into motivating more UX speakers for the sustainability topic and arranged for a suitable framing on the conference itself. Luckily I was able to convince the eco-electricity pioneer LichtBlick SE as a premier sponsor to offer a dedicated space for all sustainability topics.

Landscape scenery showing houses with photovoltaic systems on all roofs.

Designers are really in a prime position to bring critical thinking to the table, ask challenging questions, imagine new futures and visualise them or make visible current behaviour and nudge people towards a better one. We have been part of the problem and need to be part of the solutions now. But as most people, we are led by habits on autopilot. And this is the challenge I want to be working on as part of my mission. By making the problem visible, showing opportunities to act on and showing the tools and methods at their disposal we might have a chance of getting off our disastrous course.

"Man will only become better when you make him see what he is like." –Anton Tschechow (1860-1904)

As I wouldn't call myself a frequent speaker at conferences though approaching this date my blood pressure was rising steadily. The anticipation of standing in front of a crowd, delivering my thoughts and insights, was a mix of exhilaration and sheer terror. As UX Camp Hamburg is a bit of a home game for me though, catching up with peers and friends like at a school reunion, I was surprised to even find myself thrilled when I entered the event at New Work SE offices right at the harbours edge in Hafencity. So many friendly faces, fresh coffee with Franzbrötchen, and a beautiful space made everyone feel energised.

Right after session planning in the morning we kicked off the sustainability stream with Thorsten Jonas presentation "Opportunity of Change & Responsibility to Accept" which was about finding justice between convenience and negative impacts, between profit and greater good that is one of the major challenges of these days. It made me feel at ease holding my talk in front of a good crowd eager to level up on this topic more. I felt a little proud for meticulously having prepared my slide deck called "Design your way out of the climate disaster" and thus giving me a solid backbone while presenting - only to be surprised that I only needed a bit more than half of it all: One of my slides triggered a vivid discussion amongst the listeners and made obvious what sets a Barcamp apart from other conference types: allowing for listeners' immediate participation. I showed Tom Jarretts Instagram experiment where photos are described as text. Users would need to tap the text to load corresponding photos and therefore reduce carbon emissions. The group debated about the difficulty of altering traditional business models that are based on the attention economy.

What comforted me most was the feedback (and sketch notes) I received afterwards and it made me want to present this talk straight away again elsewhere. The topic seemed to have resonated with the other campers and many more interesting chats unfolded throughout the afternoon. My next step really is to use this slide deck as a base camp for more of my research and hub for updates. You can find the presentation below. It shows you what the situation is like, what the causes are, opportunities this brings and positive examples and tools. I am more than happy to discuss it with you.

Design Your Way out of the Climate Disaster Slidedeck

UX Camp Hamburg slide deck

bottom of page