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Understanding the Persuasive Potential of Interactive Installation

Understanding the Persuasive Potential of Interactive Installation

A lot can be said through design. This thesis takes a novel approach in addressing the sustainability of fast fashion issue. The project explored in this thesis is a project developed in the Interactive Architecture Lab at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, by Arum Larasati Winarso, Marina Ierides, and Austera Premakara. This project attempts to explore the role of interactive design in promoting awareness and empowering new consumer habits in an industry that provides ‘misleading marketing’ and ‘insufficient information’. An interactive installation design could arguably be seen as a weak or partial approach in responding to this problem. This project does not attempt to ‘solve’ it, but looks to the idea of paternalism: the idea that it is acceptable for people in positions of power to influence the choices of others to make their lives better. The book Nudge (Thaler and Sunstein 2008), introduces the idea of libertarian paternalism where it is possible and legitimate to affect other people’s behaviour while also respecting freedom of choice. Libertarian paternalists do not want to burden the ones who want to go their own way. Choice architects (defined as government, designers, people in charge) can shape the decisions people make in subtle ways through mechanisms other than the law, such as design in the forms of architecture, user experiences,  product designs, and many more . This way of influencing is seen as weak paternalism because it does not cut off choices, but is seen as a more effective way to let people change and make decisions

1. Introduction

Persuading people through design, is the ambition of those tasked with the ability to influence and even change people’s thoughts and behaviour. We encounter choices in our lives — The choice between buying an affordable cotton t-shirt created using 2,700 litres of water to only be worn for three occasions versus a responsibly resourced cotton alternative at a higher retail price that will last for more than one generation of owners — this kind of choice are sometimes unknowingly structured by aspects of design in systems, practices, objects, norms and habits. is a project that seeks to explore how design can lead to change. It is driven by the large-scale impact of the fashion industry on the environment. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world after oil (UN News, 2019). How is it polluting? What is the harm to our environment? This issue is often overlooked by people since clothing used to be one of the primary needs for humans to live. Starting from producing one t-shirt with thousands of litres of water to shipping millions of t-shirts everyday through a distance more than 13,000 km — the environmental resource put into one piece of clothing often remains hidden from the consumer and is what everyone needs to know to take action.

According to UNCTAD, some 93 billion cubic metres of water – enough to meet the needs of five million people – is used by the fashion industry annually, and around half a million tonnes of microfibre, which is the equivalent of 3 million barrels of oil, is now being dumped into the ocean every year… And as far as carbon emissions this industry is responsible for more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined‘ (UN News 2019: paragraph 2).

Fast fashion companies such as H&M are now producing and releasing almost 52 collections a year, only 20 years ago this stood at about 5-6 collections a year. Due to affordable prices and expanded choices, this has led to the average consumer buying 60% more clothes than they did in 2000 (UN News, 2019). Of course, this issue is not something that can be tackled by few people. This issue lays on a bigger scale which also includes habits, global change, and politics. It is embedded in the habits of people, culture of commerce and the structure of the fashion industry. This industry is defined by a highly competitive structure that does not only pressure on costs but also the ability to offer the newest possible trend to customers (Christopher et al., 2004). The fast fashion industry functions with a high degree of responsiveness combined with efficiency through the adoption of supply chain strategies like ‘just-in-time sourcing’. In order to stay responsive, various ethical employment and environmental issues are commonly disregarded, such as  the decision to use dangerous chemicals in growing raw materials or the decision to manufacture in a certain country (Turker, 2014), creating an unsustainable sector.

Fast fashion brands are increasingly acknowledging this issue during the past few years. This has been led by the acknowledgement of environmental issues being a change in their focus and a demand imposed by international and local regulations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), customers and competitors (Turker, 2014). Sustainable fashion products are increasingly available to the consumer, but that there is still a culture of ‘misleading marketing’ and ‘insufficient information’ in sustainable collections. It is only once enough people are knowledgeable of this issue, a change in consumer demand can lead to transition of this industry.

Design as an influence

Design has been one of the main mediums to steer the way people think. From World War One propaganda posters that was used to mobilize hatred towards an enemy  to today’s social media designed to generate revenue from users’ clicks. Our life today is steered by design and technology. Every little click designed into a web page is studied through the ideas of persuasion. Tristan Harris, the Director and a Co-founder of the Centre for Humane Technology, and Co-founder of the Time Well Spent movement, shared his past experiences as an ethicist designer at Google where he studied human persuasive ethics. He explained that while in college he was part of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University which studies how machines are designed to change human thought and choice. The nature of design is to solve problems, to create new possibilities for humans to live a better life (Harris 2017). A good architect and designer will create design choices that have beneficial effects. Being a designer means influencing how other people create their choices in life. The Textile Future Research Centre, comprised of researchers across Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design (CSM) and Chelsea College of Art and Design (CCW) at University of the Arts London (UAL) has been researching how the fashion industry can progress for a more sustainable future. Their research claims that the fast fashion phenomena has created significant environmental and social impact and one of the ways to tackle this problem is a strategy that not only involves designers in creating garments that last, but also creating and investing in new ideas of wellbeing and satisfaction that do not depend on buying more and more. They address questions like: How can designers use their design skills to reduce consumption? How can designers use their design skill to encourage social activities that do not require shopping or the need to buy things? (TED 8,Textile Future Research Centre 2014). What this suggests is that changes can also be made from small fragments of a big scale structure. That is, where design has the advocacy to create new design habits and cultures of consumption.

Interactive design covers a wide spectrum of actions where people are called upon to engage with a product, an interface, or a space. Engagement in these moments are likely to be experienced through a new digital medium such as interactivity and collaboration (Klanten et al., 2011).  Professor Joachim Sauter, the Co-founder and Director of Art+com also a professor of new media arts at Berlin University of Arts considers in the book ‘A Touch of Code: Interactive Installations and Experiencesthe qualities the digital medium possesses. He suggests that works that combine material and immaterial mechanisms create objects, installations, and spaces that invite the user to engage with a dialogue, explore them and communicate complex meaning in an embodied fashion. They challenge the participant to actively reflect on their meaning whether it be informative or poetic (Sauter 2011). The question is, how might information be structured within an experiential design to maximise persuasive impact?

With not yet enough capability to change the world but with some ability to be able to affect the choices that people make. seeks to explore strategies of influence within interaction design that can inform and educate consumers of the catastrophic implications of fast fashion with the hope that it will lead people to make more environmentally conscious future decisions. This thesis will study the main methods to consider in persuasive design and experiment with their implementation in a series of interactive design installations.

2. Methods to consider in designing a persuasive interactive installation

The methods explored in this chapter is based on a review of seminal literature from the fields of psychology and sociology, examining how these ideas might be applied generally in the context of Interaction design as a persuasive tool in promoting information and awareness of an issue — in this case fast fashion. This chapter studies methods that are often considered the default yet they are the most important methods of persuasion. The first method explores the importance of giving  information on why people need to change. Persuasive methods need a ground of facts in order to succeed. The second method will explore connections between habits and emotional reaction. And the third method will explore choices that people make and how choice architects influence these choices.

2.1. Information
a. The six factors of persuasion

How is behaviour influenced? Robert Cialdini a key thinker in influencing, explains that there are a couple of key factors that people consider to guide their thinking. The first step that people ensure before making a decision is to review. Cialdini narrowed down persuasion into six factors that can guide human behaviour: Reciprocity, Scarcity, Authority, Consistency, Liking, and Consensus. According to him these 6 factors lead to a more successful influence. Reciprocity to be understood simply means that human beings are obliged to give back in form of a behaviour, gift, or service that they have been given first. Scarcity means that human beings simply want what they can have less of. So knowing only what benefits people, will not be as effective as also letting people know what they will lose if they fail to consider a proposal. Authority means that people tend to follow people who they find more credible or knowledgeable experts. Consistency means that people like to be consistent with things that they have previously said or done (Cialdini 2006). For example Cialdini notes how a study was able to reduce missed appointments by simply asking patients to write down their next appointment details on their appointment card rather than letting the staff write it down. Liking simply means that people will consider your proposal if they like it, in this case it means that it will be good to find areas of similarity with others before giving a proposal. The final principal is Consensus, especially when people are uncertain, people tend to look at other behaviours to determine their own. The principles given by Robert Cialdini can be held as key factors to consider while designing with an aim to change people’s thoughts and behaviours.

Project Blip-Verts (2015) by D-fuse aims to inform the audience about the impacts of global warming. The series of short animations explore aspects of global warming issued by the SOS Live Earth and were endorsed by Al-Gore. The shortcuts of influence by Cialdini can be found in this animation. Take the example ‘Carbon Crisis #5 Deforestation’ (see figure 1) which brings the audience through the history of deforestation. The animation starts with the statement ‘Logging and farming destroys one acre of rainforest every second’ and then brings the audience to compare a series of layered photos over time where people are informed what have changed within the last 40 years. This also achieves the factors of authority as the images shown also acts like data which allows people to determine how credible the information given is. Research shows that the most persuasive authority are the credible ones (Cialdini 2006). Scarcity is shown from how the colour green gets lesser and lesser due to deforestation, this information is shared in a short and simple way which is easy to understand.  The clip then finally ends with ‘what can you do’, this final moment touches the factor of consensus since the audience can compare their current attitude to an ideal attitude towards deforestation and decide ‘what to do next’ to help the problem or not.  Also allowing a two-way interaction between film and audience which ties in with the factor of reciprocity.

Figure 1. Carbon Crisis#5 Deforestation by D-Fuse

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b. Need for interactivity

The book Persuasive Technology by BJ Fogg (2003) explains that to this end, information and persuasive technologies are commonly regarded as valuable sources for behavioural change. However, information-alone is often noted to be less effective in terms of persuasion (Fogg 2003). It could be suggested that the future of influence relies on digital technology: as a general rule, persuasion techniques are most effective when they are interactive (Fogg 2003). Effective in this context implies a more meaningful way to communicate ideas where interactivity can lead to a deeper level of engagement between a participant and an issue of change. The fourth chapter — Engage, in the book ‘A touch of Code: Interactive Installations and Experiences’, emphasizes audiences personal participation in interactive works. The chapter explains that to engage gives the attraction and involvement of someone’s interest or attention (Klanten et al., 2011). When an individual becomes a participant and a  direct reference point of a certain situation, information may be understood deeper as it relates directly to the participant themselves.

Many interactive installation works have been creating platforms for public participation in the context of ethical persuasion. D-fuse has also made their Blip-Verts animation interactive and immersive in their project Small Global (2015). This project has been shown around the world in different settings from shopping malls in China, galleries in Argentina, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Germany to the Greenpeace Field Festival at Glastonbury UK. The project is an immersive film cube where participants are surrounded by projections of short clips of the global interdependence, consumption and its environmental costs. Participants’ bodies become canvases of information and sensors allow them to reveal information with the presence of their bodies (D-fuse 2015). Another example project that conveys informative persuasion in form of an interactive installation is the project Funky Forest at the Art Garden (2010) by Design I/O at the Singapore Art Museum. The Funky Forest is an interactive visual projection project created like an ecosystem where participants were able to manage resources in order to influence the environment around them. For example participants were able to divert streams of water flowing across the floor in order to make part of the forest grow. If the trees do not receive enough water they will wither away creating a dark and sad visual of trees. As the participants engage, explore and experiment they discover that the environment depends on a thriving ecosystem to survive.

Figure 2. Funky Forest at The Garden (2015)  by Design I/O

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Based on the need for interactivity and information, the project will need to adjust information provided according to participant feedback so that it can lead to a deeper understanding of the environmental resources used in the production of fast fashion and maximise persuasive impact.

2.2. Connections between habits and emotional reactions
a. Social practices: materials, competences and meanings

Fast fashion is dominated by a business model where consumers are offered constantly changing collections at low prices and encouraged to frequently buy and discard clothes. This consumerism habit is one that we all need to break out of.

The project sees consumers as agents of change.  Habits of buying clothes has changed throughout history. Clothes changed from being a priority need to a tertiary need where people can afford to buy and throw away easily. If we look at consumer habits as an act of social practice then there are other contributing elements necessary for change. The book written by Elizabeth Shove titled ‘The Dynamics of Social Practice’ (2012) breaks down practice into a mechanism with three connected factors of material, competences, and meanings. ‘Materials’ encompass objects, infrastructures, tools, hardware and body itself. For example, if we conceptualize consumerism as social practice, then the materials would be food, clothes (fast fashion or sustainable alternatives), markets, and shopping malls. ‘Competences’ is described as a skill or as practical consciousness or an understanding of a practical knowledge together (Shove et al., 2011). In the same example, competences would be the shopping activity itself, the competence to know what to buy, the competence to know what store that we should go to, the competence of knowing the latest fashion trend. Lastly ‘meanings’ comprehends the mental activity, the emotion, and the motivation. There is a motivation in why people need to shop or buy new clothes –  because their old clothes cannot be used anymore, they want to keep up with trends, or they need a clothing to perform a specific function that they do not own. Meanings are future oriented, people do things because they need to do it for a future need. Shove explains these three factors are connected and suggests that if one of the others disappears or are effected then the whole system will change. Discussing social practice for social change, Matt Watson states that a transition of practice can only be achieved if “enough people do things differently enough” (Watson 2014). If we conceptualize consumer shopping as a social practice then change can be brought about by altering any of the three components which then creates a knock-on effect on the other elements. Starting from a small-scale change in habits, if done by enough people, will create the seeds of a bigger change.

b. Power of Habits : cues/routine

Methods of changing people’s habits or actions is also explored in the book ‘Power of Habits’ by Charles Dughigg (2013). The first part of the book breaks down all habits into a three step process. Habits are triggered by cues which then leads into a routine and culminates into a reward. Habits can be seen as delicate things that will not happen unless triggered by a cue. Therefore, it is possible to break a bad habit and change it into a good one. If not exposed to a cue then a habit will not happen. Cues also fall into one of these five categories: location, time, emotional state, actions of others and the preceding action. For example consider a price change in disposable coffee cups, once coffee shops start selling their disposable coffee cups, people start to bring their own cups knowing that they can get their coffee with a cheaper price.  The category of cue that this example falls into is location, inside the coffee shop, and emotional state, oh no the price is expensive. Knowing what influences a habit, design can also lead a strong impact in behavioural change.

c. Emotional states/empathy

Out of the five categories mentioned before, emotional state is one aspect that is very important to habitual change. In the book Empathy and Moral Development, Martin Hoffman (2000) divides human empathic feelings into five different actions. All five types share an empathic motive basis, that is empathy is defined as an affective response more appropriate to another situation than one’s own. Each type features empathic distress: sympathetic distress, empathic anger, empathic feeling of injustice and guilt. Anger, injustice and guilt are types of emotion that are very strong and encourages changes in attitude (Hoffman 2000). How can we convey these emotions? Design can trigger emotion through giving a personalized experience. Emotions are very subjective and different according to different types of people. An example would be conveying emotions through sensory design. The Empathy Bridge by Heeju Kim (see figure 3) is a kit that was developed to bridge the understanding of autism. Heeju Kim designed this kit as she believed that it is needed for people to understand and be compassionate to care for those with autism and to build this compassion people need to experience the visual senses of autistic people. This Kit includes a set of six awkwardly shaped lollipops that limits tongue movements in many ways conveying how unclear pronunciation has an impact on autistic individuals. It also includes an augmented reality headset and oversensitive hearing headphones that restricts views and amplifies nearby sounds. This kit embodies the important value that ‘A minute of your time can bring remarkable changes to the lives of people with autism.’  (Tucker 2017: paragraph 8). Personalized experience can trigger a personalized emotional state that can lead to behavioural change.

Figure 3. Empathy Kit by Heeju Kim

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The three theories explored above concludes to one of the main ways of understanding how persuasion can work if only a person is able to or willing to break out of their own habit, behaviour and judgement of a certain issue. Knowing the structures of human behaviours brings us to a deeper understanding of persuasion.  In order to be persuasive enough an interactive installation should be able to nudge people personally and effect their emotional feelings in order to lead to a more persuasive impact.

2.3. Choices and choice architects influence
a. Choice architecture

Method three finally explores choices. Are ‘lifestyles’ in some sense ‘chosen’ or are they better seen as ‘ways of life’, that is, as part of the social fabric (Harrison and Davies 1998)? Are behaviours or habits chosen? Or are they shaped by other aspects? Although we have the ability to choose what we perceive to be better, often these choices are unknowingly also influenced by choice architects. In the book ‘Nudge’, Thaler and Sunstein (2008) give examples of Carolyn a cafeteria lady who knows that her decision to arrange food everyday influences the choices of food that the students take. She can increase and decrease the consumption of healthy or unhealthy food by simply arranging what food to be served first in the cafeteria. Some schools serve dessert first whilst others serve their dessert last or even in a separate line. Knowing that she has the power to influence what the students eat she is a choice architect. Our everyday choices are also driven by a bigger structure. As designers,  it is natural within our skill-set to serve as choice architects and it is up to us to choose whether this authority should be based on norms, profits or other aspects.

b. Automatic/Reflective systems

Many psychologists and neuroscientists have been converging on a description of how our brain works in two systems (see figure 4) (Thaler and Sustain 2008). The first is an automatic system described as intuitive and automatic, the other is a reflective system described as rational and reflective. Most of our time we are busy, our lives are complicated, and we cannot expend energy or time thinking and analysing everything. Simple rules of thumb are therefore used when we make decisions, judgments, or actions. This ‘rule of thumb’ theory described in the book ‘Nudge’ is similar to what Robert Cialdini mentions as the ‘shortcuts to influence people’. To function automatically, and not be debilitated by slow, controlled decision-making at every step, we have learned to form habits and biases so we can think and make choices in an intuitive, effortless way (Thaler and Sustain 2008).

Figure 4. Two cognitive systems (Thaler and Sustain 2008, p.20).

The Aware Project is a series of projects by the Interactive Institute in Sweden that researches ways to break off people’s energy consumption habits in the home, by altering daily life objects so that people take different choices. The aim is to develop strategies through design that make people more attentive of their energy use and offer them possibilities of control in making their energy use more efficient (RISE Interactive 2008). An example of their project includes an energy clock with visuals determined by how much energy the household is using at that current time. A clock is referred by people frequently. By having energy consumption shown as frequent as time, this project hopes that people could make more conscious choices on their energy consumption. Their project also explored a radio controlled energy light source that shares a fixed amount of light among the lights. So that when one light source is dimmed the other light source will shine brighter. This project shares the idea that light should be used when and where needed the most.


Figure 5. the Aware Project by the Swedish Interactive Institute

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c. Theory of reasoned action & planned behaviour

Another theory which is common and popular used in steering and influencing people’s behaviour and decision making is the theory of reasoned action and planned behaviour. This theory aims to predict a person’s behaviour based on three major factors (see Figure 5): a favourable or unfavourable evaluation of a behaviour (attitude towards the behaviour) , a perceived social pressure to perform or not perform a behaviour (subjective norm), and a perceived capability to perform a behaviour (self-efficacy) (Ajzen et al., 2008). Why would someone buy a shirt? What kind of shirt would a person buy? What influences the final decision? The basis of this action can be broken down into the three major factors based on the ‘theory of reasoned action’. The first construct to this action is the ‘attitude towards the behaviour’ which means that it is based on the individual belief of that person and whether this action will make a positive or negative contribution to their life. (Queensland University of Technology, 2015).  In the shirt example, it can mean that buying a certain shirt makes sense for the person or not–‘should I buy a short sleeve shirt because it is Summer? Should I get a thick sweater because it is cold?’. The second construct of this action is the ‘subjective norm’ which focuses on everything surrounding an individual such as social network, cultural norms, group beliefs, etc. People would already have a former belief or former opinion, based on the surrounding people, on what kind of shirt to buy, for example — it is an office shirt that I need to buy so the norm tells me that it needs to be formal. The third construct to this action is the ‘perceived capability to perform a behaviour’. This construct is about how an individual perceives how easy or how hard is it to do this action — is the person actually capable of doing this? An example in the shirt buying situation would be ‘Do I have enough money to buy this shirt? Am I capable of doing this?’. The theory predicts that if all constructs are favourable then an action will be performed. On the other hand, even if one construct is unfavourable then an action will not be performed.

Figure 6. Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzeen et al., 2008)

The theory of planned behaviour is very commonly used in the world of marketing and advertising, where it is their job to persuade people to do a certain action or to buy a certain object. Knowing that behaviour and choices are influenced by these different aspects, we can use these theories to guide design as something that can effect choices.  It is not impossible to nudge or influence people to change their attitude towards a certain issue. The choices that human beings make even in life’s most important times are influenced in ways that cannot be anticipated (Thaler and Sustain 2008). The knowledge of choices, behaviours and actions are significant in maximizing persuasive impact.

‘Design can ask questions, entice , and inspire people to evaluate things in a greater perspective'(Elliason 2019 : minute 4:59)

It is a role that a designer can take to define choices and encourage people to a more reflective thought process to break automatic habits. In the context of this theory is used as an overall approach throughout the iteration of concepts designed. Understanding how actions and behaviours of people are shaped, our project wishes to understand the value of using the interactive installation as a tool to change attitudes, norms and instil a sense of control.


With this knowledge as a guide in creating interactive persuasive installations, the project has focussed on understanding the potential of interactive installation in promoting awareness of the environmental resources used in fast fashion and maximising persuasive impact. Whether it is through information that is controlled and reflective, emotional reactions, or the creation of new meanings/understandings about fast fashion that inform ‘attitudes, norms & one’s sense of control’ that leads to future behaviour.

3. Concept Project

Framed by our expertise in sensory and experience design, makes use of the theoretical work outlined in chapter 2, in a number of iterative experiments with the hope of leading people to make more sustainable choices in the future. Throughout this project we have collaborated to consider how design as a tool can help inform and change people’s views on fast fashion. It is not that fashion is something that we should all hate. Our project believes that yes it should be accessible to all, with the low prices that some fast fashion brands offer, but people should be able to appreciate and respect the garments even if they are bought at a lower cost. Buying a t-shirt for £5 does not justify throwing it away after a one-time use. We want people to respect their garments and think about the impact they might cause when disposed. We should all be custodians of fashion not simply a customer. This project is specifically focusing on how interactive design can be used to promote awareness of the environmental resources used in the production of fast fashion and how information might be structured within an experiential design to maximise persuasive impact.

3.1. Concept one concept one was shaped like a mirror.  The mirror was designed to create fluid motion to represent the water that has been polluted by the production of a garment. The mirror was a screen that displayed a mirrored live feed of the participant standing in front of the screen. Using color detection, the mirror will emit fluid particles depending on the garment color of the participant. The concept was that each color will emit different amount of fluid particles based on conceptually how much water a certain color dye uses. By including a mirror we were aiming to amplify the responsibility of the participant as they view themselves in the installation. This mirror prototype was displayed in the Here East auditorium for 2 days and we invited about 20 people to become participants of this installation (see figure 7 and 8). It was also presented in front of critics in June 2019. Most of the participants enjoyed seeing themselves augmented differently in the screen, however a couple of comments noted were that people did not like the feeling of being ‘finger wagged’ . After a few minutes of experiencing the installation, we gave participants an explanation on what the installation was about. Each response were different, some continued to explore different visual responses the installation gave using the different colours of garment as targets, some stopped playing around with the installation noticing that the installation is visualizing their own impact of their actions.

Figure 7. Interactive mirror displayed at Here East Auditorium

Figure 8. Interactive mirror installation that emits fluid particles depending on garment colour

This exploration considered the theory discussed in the previous chapter where the first step in persuasion is providing information and promoting awareness of the environmental resources used in fast fashion. Also making the information interactive in order to create a deeper understanding of the importance of this issue so that people can be directly engaged as the main role of the installation.

Figure 9. Concept diagram of interactive mirror ( illustrated by Arum Winarso)

Another iteration of the same concept at the more literal end of the information spectrum would allow people to see the resource impact of the garment before they purchase it using augmented reality technology (see Figure 9). Carlo Rati an Italian architect also a professor at the MIT Senseable City Lab that explores how new technologies are currently changing the way we understand, design, and ultimately live in cities, created a digital supermarket for the Milan Expo 2015 (see Figure 10). Working with COOP Italia, the supermarket pavilion explored potentials of future interactions of people with the things they buy in the supermarket. Rati explained that every product has a story to tell and today this information reaches consumers in a very fragmented way (Rati 2015). Rati explained ‘But in the near future, we will be able to discover everything there is to know about the apple we are looking at: the tree it grew on, the CO2 it produced, the chemical treatments it received, and its journey to the supermarket shelf,’ (Fearson 2015 : paragraph 5 ).

Figure 10. Carlo Rati Milan Expo 205 Pavilion

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What if shops were to implement tags that explain the material cost of their garment or mirrors that automatically show what your garment has been through? Like how we look at ingredients behind what we eat, we should be looking at the ingredients behind what we wear in order to make more environmentally conscious fashion purchases.  The concept was to either be embedded in a shop mirror or personal handled electronic device screen that can display meaningful information about the garment. 

As a proof of concept we developed a conceptual phone application that incorporates the use of Augmented Reality (see figure 11). The concept behind this development was to provide consumers information on how the product was made on their smartphone straight away. The information featured in this application relates to the issue of the sustainability of resources used in the garment. The information showed what the material was composed of , how far it have travelled, how long it will last , and how this garment should be treated and taken care of. People can scan a material of a garment or a certain code provided by the designer before finally making a purchase. This concept was displayed  on the 14th and 15th of August 2019 at the Samsung KX Store in Coals Drop Yards. The display set up included  a series of shirts hanging on a rail that were made out of different materials and a phone with the installed application (see figure 12). Participants can then scan the shirts using the provided phone and see the information through a simple animation in Augmented Reality.  This display was visited by about 30 people during the two days. A lot of feedback and responses were given. Some agreed on the idea to show a more visually attractive garment information tag because the current information tags on garments are often forgotten and never read which causes garments to be treated in ways that they are not supposed to be. Some disagree on the usage of phones to show information and thought that this kind of technology would not be effective because people will still need to make the decision of whether they want to download the application or not, compared to a mirror or screen displayed in a shop, where people have no choice but to see it. However exhibiting this concept in a public space helped to overall increase the awareness of the environmental resources used in the process of fast fashion to the people who thoroughly experienced the installation.

Figure 11 AR Application displayed at #prototypesinpublic Samsung Store Coal Drop Yard

Figure 12. Installation set up at Samsung KX Store Coal Drops Yard

3.2.Concept two concept two evolved the interactive mirror into an interactive experience space that brings the participant and the garment into dialogue. This installation was to be built as an actual store with a changing and a separate experience room ( see figure 13). It stages a concept store that features white shirts labelled as either cotton, silk or viscose. The participant can choose one of the three and proceed into a changing room to try it on. After wearing the garment, the participant enters the experience space which is located behind the changing room.  A performance begins by tapping the pre-programmed RFID tag, hanging from the shirt, onto a reader. The performance features a back-projected screen, a two way mirror, speakers and spotlights (Winarso et al., 2019).  The performance is an interactive video that visualises the life cycle of the material that the shirt is constructed from.  Here we try to not only explore the method of information as persuasion but also the need of interactivity as the power of participant feedback.

Figure 13. set up concept of the concept store (illustrated by Arum Winarso)

Figure 14. perspective view set up concept of the concept store (illustrated by Arum Winarso)

Our installation showed abstract imagery of the way the material is sourced, produced, manufactured and distributed. The body tracking sensor placed in the room created a shadow of the participant onto the screen and then blocked some parts of the video. The participant can move in space to reveal more of the video (see figure 15 and 16). The visuals then drift into an abstract water-like fluid simulation that is altered by the participant’s movement, replicating how water would react if a hand was moving it. The last part of the video, shows the manufacturing and distribution of the garment, where the participant is now the one revealing the video based on where they are standing. The last phase of the performance starts when the timer on the screen zeroes and the spotlight above the participant shines. This makes it possible for the two way mirror to show the participant’s reflection rather than the video behind it. By doing this we would like to remind people that the time is over and we now have to act. After the performance the participant returns to the changing room and takes off the shirt. Upon their exit they receive a receipt containing all the key facts about the material they have just experienced, as well as useful links in case they are interested to know more.

This installation was designed based on the implementation of a couple of theories explored in the first chapter. Information as the base of persuasion was implemented through the video shown in the experience room. Combined with the need of interactivity, the video shifts back and forth from being the participants shadow to becoming the participants surrounds. The installation was also designed with a story line to bring participants in an emotional journey through the change of moods in sounds, colours, and lights. The concluding part of the experience when the spot light shines and the two way mirror shows the participant’s reflection rather than the video also wishes to touch the participants’ emotional, visceral reactions as a reflection to themselves as the cause of this problem.

Figure 15. exhibited in project fair June 2019 (taken by Austera Premakara)

Figure 16. Experience space set up at project fair June 2019 (taken by Austera Premakara)

This installation was displayed in the mid-year project progress fair in June 2019. About 30 people participated in our installation. Each of the participants were asked about their experience in our installation, revealing many mixed feelings. A lot thought that the visuals were very attractive and the storyline concept was very fun and engaging as the installation was built in the shape of a real shop. Participants felt the real experience of shopping as they were instructed to pick, try on and pay for their shirts. However, when asked about their future relationship with fashion, about 13 participants said that the installation could not convey environmental awareness because the visuals shown were too abstract and key messages were too difficult to understand. Naj , an engineer visiting from India, who had experienced the concept said, ‘I am an engineer and I am persuaded by numerical facts, for me numbers showing exactly the impact of each shirt will be more persuasive than just pretty visuals’.

3.3.Concept three third concept was to focus more on how to amplify the shopping experience. This concept aims to create an environment that amplifies the importance of the small moments we experience in a store such as looking at a price tag, picking up a shirt on a hanger, trying on clothes, and paying. These small moments that happen while shopping are often done on autopilot and is part of what we call the ‘automatic system’. In this concept we sought to disrupt these automatic actions and channel these actions into a different conscious, reflective and self-aware behaviour. The installation of this project explored the use of sound and projection mapped light onto objects regularly seen in a store.

Figure 17. concept three set up (taken by Marina Ierides)

Different colours, animations, and lighting effects were triggered every time a small action happened within the boundaries of the set.  It is a responsive environment that includes a projection mapped store set that consists of a full concept store that tracks movement and reacts dynamically, as well as augmenting the pickup moment of an item, using sensors embedded in the garments and then reacting accordingly (see figure 18). By touching a specific garment you can enable the projection to show the story of the garment onto the store set, transforming it to an augmented reality storytelling set. The story shown was similar to concept two where the visuals revealed were images of how a certain material was sourced, produced, manufactured and distributed. Even though built and ready this concept was unfortunately only experienced and evaluated by six  participants as this concept did not yet have the chance to be installed in a public exhibition. Participants of this installation were all intrigued by the response of the set that changes visually by small movements and were interested to explore what other movements that could create a change in the environment experienced.

Figure 18. participant picking a shirt and touching it to create a different environment (taken by Marina Ierides) project exploration video Available at:

4. Discussion

This thesis was focused on exploring how interactive design can be used to promote awareness of the environmental resources used in the production of fast fashion. And how information can be structured to maximise persuasive impact. The three concepts of the experiential design explored in the previous chapter is about understanding the potential of interactive installation in promoting awareness and maximising persuasive impact whether through information provision that is controlled and reflective, emotional reactions, or the creation of new meanings/understandings about fast fashion that inform ‘attitudes, norms & one’s sense of control’ with the hope that this might lead to more sustainable future behaviour. Each method and concept will be discussed further below:


Information and interactivity was explored in all three concepts  as one of the main factors to consider in a persuasive interactive installation. Concept one, interactive mirror and augmented reality application, was specifically guided by Cialdini’s factors of persuasion through the visuals shown in each installation. The interactive mirror structured information as fluid particles that look like water to inform the amount of water polluted by a certain colour garment. The augmented reality application structured information in the shape of visual animations that manifests authority and reciprocity through statements of sourcing, producing, and manufacturing facts and future ideal attitudes. Concept two and three also demonstrate Cialdini’s factors of persuasion through the story told in each video shown. The story manifests reciprocity also through videos of sourcing, producing and manufacturing different materials commonly used in garments with hopes that after knowing what garments go through, participants will be willing to care more of their garments. The need for interactivity was also the main structure of all concepts as the participants presence were activating each installation. In concept one, fluid particles were triggered by the garment that the participants were wearing. In concept two, the presence of the participants were the trigger to reveal information given. And finally in concept three, the participants’ movements were the ones controlling the visuals of the environment. Continuously information and interaction were manifested in all four concepts and were successful in informing and engaging participants with the installations. 

4.2.Habits and emotional reactions

The theories explored in this method of habits and emotional reactions were more useful in deciding the overall approach of the three concepts. Knowing what assembles a certain habit, behaviour, or attitude that lead to the problem of fast fashion helped us to decide specifically on what to approach. All of concepts decided to disrupt fast fashion consumerism as a social practice, through focussing on the three different constructs of social practices which are materials, meanings, and competences. Concept one focused on materials as the colour and material of the participants garments were the main focuses of the installations. It also focused on meanings and competences as the garments then gave specific information on what material it was made out of and what impact does the garment have on the environment which then disrupts the motivation to buy, which is included in the meaning and competences of shopping as a social practice. This is also the main structure of concepts two and three where it then dives more deeply into the specific habits in shopping as a social practice through a physically store shaped setup and actions that are unconsciously done during the shopping activity. Concept two explored how to create an emotional journey through the shopping activity where participants were to act on a specific story line with a purpose to spark empathic distress of a participant. The exploration of sensory through sound and visual also wishes to create emotional reactions that can lead to deeper engagements of the issue.  Charles Duhigg’s theory of cues and routines were the main approach behind concept three. The theory of how habits happen only when triggered by cues (Duhigg, 2013), were manifested in this concept by the creation of new cues (through visuals and sound) during the small moments of shopping. Overall the methodologies of habits and emotional reactions were the foundations on deciding how to deliver persuasive impact and explore the creation of deeper feeling engagements through interactive installation design. 

4.3.Choices and influence

Finally all three concepts considered choices as part of what the participants of each installation shall take during and after the experience. The theory of automatic/reflective systems were explored in concept three where it was to focus more on unconscious behaviours while shopping. The theory of choice architecture and planned behaviour were helpful to design each storyline of each installation. All three concepts were iterations of different designs strategies in order to influence participants to make more meaningful choices. Having to learnt how choices and actions are constructed, as designers we can use our skills to create new habits and choices. The methodologies explored in choices and influence that includes choice architecture, reflective systems (Thaler and Sustain 2008), and theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen et al., 2008). were found useful in designing to maximize persuasive impacts because people’s behaviours, actions, and attitudes are not something that can be evaluated at a certain moment. However behaviours, actions, and attitudes can be predicted and therefore these theories become helpful in the process of approaching and exploring design to maximize persuasive impact.


The main limitations  of this research in the progress of this project involves the limited participants in each installation and a difficulty in comparing the impact between each concepts. The issue of comparability and understanding the ‘success’ of interactive installation after people leave the installation is one of the big challenges for this field. A persuasive impact is something that cannot be evaluated immediately.

4.5.Future Directions

During the progress of, the project has revealed that the theoretical concepts explored could also be helpful in understanding the degree of awareness and persuasive impact given to participants who explored each installation. A future direction that this project wishes to focus on is how to design the evaluative component of each installation using these theories.

Also it has also been noticed that each installation were focusing to much on the informative role of the project whereas the role of the participant in a persuasive installation should also be as important as the information given. Therefore the future direction of the concept project wishes to also focus more on the role of the participant in an interactive installation.  Concept four is currently being developed for the final project fair exhibition on the 13 December 2019 at 22 Gordon Street, UCL Main Campus. This concept wishes to make participants reflect on themselves, their movements, and the effect of what they do to the surrounding environment in a more subtle way through senses of light , sound and movement with water as a symbol to this environmental awareness so that participants can focus more on their own roles in the installation.

Overall Conclusion

The project attempted to explore the role of interactive design in promoting awareness and empowering new consumer habits in an industry that provides ‘misleading marketing’ and ‘insufficient information’. As explored, an interactive installation design could arguably be seen as a weak or partial approach in responding to this problem however this project did not attempt to ‘solve’ it, but looked to the idea of paternalism: the idea that it is acceptable for people in positions of power to influence the choices of others to make their lives better. During the process of designing and iterating through different concepts, the project have noticed that design creates a lot of potential in shaping not only architecture but also shaping the attitudes, actions and behaviours of people.  


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