Over the next two weeks on the Cooper-Hewitt Design Blog, students from an interdisciplinary graduate-level course on the Triennial taught by the Triennial curatorial team blog their impressions and inspirations of the current exhibition,‘Why Design Now?’.

Two Clever Triennial Entries Help Us Track Our Energy Consumption

The PSA’s have been espousing “The More You Know” for two decades, and the designers in this year’s Triennial agree. Some of their most innovative designs are about becoming a little more aware of our nasty consumption habits.

When it comes to our food, more of us want to know where and how our comestibles were grown and harvested, packaged and preserved. 2005’s documentary “Our Daily Bread” made us pause before eating everything from salt to apples to pork, and for the proactive locavore, the ultimate lunch is one they’ve seen through from seed to salad. For those who don’t grow their own, connecting to their food can mean a Saturday stop at the farmer’s market. But what about consumption of another kind? As rare as it still is for us to engage consciously with our food, we are mostly undiscerning gluttons when it comes to our energy usage.

Two Triennial entries by Sweden’s Interactive Institute mean to curb our excess by illuminating our intake. The Power Aware Cord, designed by Magnus Gyllenswärd and Anton Gustafsson, emits light – from a soft glow to a literally electric blue – depending on the amount of power devoured by each appliance. The Energy Aware Clock, designed by Loove Broms, Karin Ehrnberger, Sara Ilstedt Hjelm, Erika Lundell and Jin Moen, tracks energy consumption by the minute and superimposes your current usage over a shadow of yesterday’s, making your daily routine visible in energy terms.

Maybe counting kilowatts as we do calories would make us all a little more conscious of our energy usage, and prompt a little trimming here and there.

Jenny Florence
Cooper-Hewitt Decorative Arts and Design History MA Program

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