Please see our publications for more details on the below.
We originally became interested in the concept of affordances due to its relevance to environmentally conscious behaviors. We have since done work on identifying novel affordances, through the use of lead users (e.g., DIYers), natural language search of online customer reviews, and a method we call “The affordance of absence”.
Creativity in conceptual design
Our current focus is to systematically identify and incorporate research results from psychology to develop effective tools to improve creativity output during engineering conceptual design. Our recent research has shown individual differences in tendency for design fixation and functional fixedness. Ongoing work aims to develop and validate interventions to address these and other obstacles in conceptual design.
Enabling Environmentally Conscious Behavior through Design
Our current focus is to investigate how product design can enable environmentally conscious (or pro-environmental) behavior in individual consumers. While technological improvements may increase efficiency to reduce resource consumption, such efficiency is not fully exploited if consumers behave in wasteful ways.
Biomimetic Design (past research)
Biomimetic (or biologically inspired) design applies biological analogies to solve engineering problems. Biological phenomena provide an abundant source of inspiration for design, including novel models for process optimization and ideas for sustainable production practices. In the past, biologically inspired design has mostly relied on personal or chance knowledge and observation of biology to inspire design. As many engineers may not know the most relevant biological phenomena for any given design problem, a systematic method of accessing biological knowledge is required. Our approach has been to search the vast amount of biological knowledge already in natural-language format.