Practices as a unit of design: An exploration of theoretical guidelines in a study on bathing

L. Kuijer, A.M. de Jong, D. van Eijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


The sustainability challenges facing society today require approaches that look beyond single productuser interactions. Focusing on socially shared practices-e.g. cooking, laundering-has been identified as a promising direction. Building on a growing body of research in sustainable HCI that takes practices as unit of analysis, this article explores what it means to take practices as a unit of design. Drawing on theories of practice, it proposes that practice-oriented design approaches should: involve bodily performance, create crises of routine and generate a variety of performances. These guidelines were integrated into a Generative Improve Performances (GIP) approach, entailing a series of performances by improvisation actors with lowfidelity prototypes in a lab environment. The approach was implemented in an empirical study on bathing. Although the empirical example does not deal with common types of interactive technologies, the guidelines and GIP approach offer sustainable HCI a way to think beyond immediate interactions and to conceptualize change on a practice level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
Pages (from-to)1-22
JournalACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bathing
  • Design
  • HCI
  • Improvisation actors
  • Performances
  • Practice theory
  • Research through design
  • Sustainability


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