Research projects

Energy for Sustainable Social Development

MSc Program and Research Project. The project is a collaboration between NTNU and the Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University Nepal. The main objective is establishing education and research at IOE on  Sustainable Social Development. Providing Nepalese society with qualified professionals, who facilitate the design of clean energy solutions and contribute to good energy governance adapted to national, regional and local stakeholder requirements is mandatory. The emphasis is on case studies, field work and research in the renewable energy sector in various districts in Nepal.  Energy as the point of departure is crucial for a transformation of the Nepalese society towards equitable livelihoods through regional developments.

3C // Co-constructing city futures

The project “Co-constructing city futures (3C)” addresses the construction of ideas and visions for city futures. While civic participation may be a goal, levels of participation are often low, limited to certain sets of actors, and the collaboration between them often challenging. The project aims to facilitate citizen engagement in the co-construction of visions and scenarios through the development of methods and tools that can improve levels of participation in planning processes.

“Co-constructing city futures (3C)" is a project from the Research Council of Norway’s 2016 sandpit “Cities that work”. It is led by the Department of Education, University of Oslo (UiO), and has participants from the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Department of Design, NTNU.

NTNU contact:

Hug the Streets

"Hug the Streets" prepares the ground for a transition from car- to people-centred urban design and planning. The project explores the value and the possibilities of creating a green multifunctional infrastructure by parking trees where cars are parked today. It exploits the powerful symbolic value of trees as innovation agents that promote the citizens' wellbeing and stimulate synergies between the city infrastructures for soft mobility, energy and water.

"Hug the Streets" is a project from the Research Council of Norway’s 2016 sandpit “Cities that work”. It is led by SINTEF Building and Infrastructure and has participants from LINK Landscape, Institute of Transport Economics (TØI), the Department of Design, NTNU, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and the Department of Informatics, UiO.

NTNU contact:


Please visit our staff's individual pages for a description of individual research projects.

Ongoing PhD projects

Abu Ali's P.h.D. project is called “The Influence of Proportioning and Ordering in Semantic and Semiotic Form Development of Products”. The central research question of the project is, does the proportion and ordering theories can be used as tools for analysing and organising form in the semantic development of the form and add more value of a product?The Intended in this study is to investigate whether the use of principles of formal design and geometrical principle by the designers in the design process will add more value of the formal aesthetic function of the product.  

Faheem Ali's P.h.D. project is called "Industrial implementation of Design for Sustainability". The project tries to explore the role of soft-side parameters in determining successful implementation of design for sustainability (DfS) in industries. Soft-side parameters entails human related factors such as project perception, employee commitment, ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity in design for sustainability projects, among others. The project builds from the academic standpoint that these soft-side parameters have a decisive role in the success of sustainability implementation and the use of tools, methods and frameworks developed for streamlining the implementation process. The research work aims at contributing to both academic and industrial knowledge on DfS implementation and how to succeed in delivering the sustainability goals in the long term.

Miriam Begnum’s PhD is tentatively named Quality Assuring Universal Design in the eSociety – Towards Understanding the Effects of Interaction Design Methodology. The overall aim is to improve knowledge on how to ensure universally designed ICT systems and services, and based on this strengthen universal design quality control. The main focus is on investigating the relationship between methodological stances (paradigms, worldviews, epistemologies, disability views and universal design views) and methodological practices. Through a combination of survey research and interview studies, the role of methodological stances is investigated alongside other possible influencing promoting and obstructive factors for universal design quality (UD-Q). Modeling the methodological and discipline diversity of the field of universal design of ICT systems, and suggesting ontology for the field, constitutes a planned general contribution. Miriam further aims to prototype a tool to help strengthen universal design quality control. The tool will subsequently be used to estimate and provide the quality metrics of the universal design methodology for a given ICT project. Miriam is employed at Faculty of Architecture and Design, Department of Design, but her PhD work is formally linked to the PhD in Computer Science (UX-track) at Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Department of Computer Science.

Juana Camacho-Otero's project addresses user acceptance of circular resource efficiency – As part of the Marie Curie CircEUit Innovative Training Network funded by the EU, this research project focuses on how consumer requirements such as (perceived) convenience for the end user and fulfilling requirements for circularity can be balanced. The research builds on existing insights from fields like design for sustainable behaviour, environmental psychology and social practice theory. It focuses on creating understanding about consumption paradigms that exist on the micro level, and addresses locked-in behaviour in terms of what users think is acceptable when acquiring ‘functionality’ from commercial offerings.

Lucy Chamberlin’s PhD project addresses the issue of how communication can be applied to user behavioural change in the context of a circular economy. It involves examining the role of users and consumers in transforming product and service systems, what the existing literature says about the necessary factors for accepting such new practices, and how communication might be seen as a tool for adaptation. It reviews some theories of communication as a social practice and means of structuration or behavior change, looking at these specifically in relation to the world of business marketing and advertising, and applying the findings to the context of user behavior change for a circular economy. The project also analyses marketing communications and methods currently being used by businesses in order to sell circular economy services, conducting empirical research into communication practices that influence consumption and use decisions, designing participative studies and gathering data through direct interaction with user groups. Ultimately, it will provide a framework for business of consideration factors in designing communications for circular economy products and services. 

Marie Cathrine Hebrok’s PhD project addresses food waste. Her research will specifically address food waste handling practices in Norwegian households. By researching socio-cultural, economic and material barriers, the research will address the opportunities for design interventions that product design may offer to reduce the environmental impacts of such practices. This research is financed by the Norwegian Research Council through the project CYCLE. Marie is employed by SIFO, Norway’s National Institute for Consumer Research.               

Siti Salwa Isa's P.h.D. project is called “Application of  models and prototypes as  creative tools in co-creation process to facilitate  product   planning and goal finding in the Fuzzy Front End of Innovation”.  The aim of this project is  to develop design and user driven model making and prototyping methodologies, which can be adopted by stakeholders to facilitate a plural approach in innovation, service system development and product design. 

Anne Carlijn Vis' PhD project is called “A human-centred approach to HHD”. By reconsidering where care takes place, opportunities to relief the healthcare system and its stakeholders can be sought.  The PhD focusses on enabling home treatment for people with chronic renal failure in Norway, by improved information mediation to patients and caretakers on treatment options and effects on way of life. 

Sofie Østergaard’s PhD Project focuses on increasing competitiveness and resource efficiency in the value chain of fresh bakery products through sustainable product, systems and service design. The project will address waste behavior related to bakery products, the relation with packaging and retail solutions, the production chain, and address cooperation between stakeholders to address these challenges. This research is financed by the Norwegian Research Council through the Breadpack project and the Industrial PhD scheme; Sofie is employed by Cernova AS, one of Norway’s major producers of fresh bakery products.

Kristine Holbø Co-design in the health sector - Development of service for GPS tracking of people with dementia.The thesis aims to investigate whether codesign process of user-centered design can be customized for development projects in healthcare. That case followed projects at SINTEF Health, which aims to create GPS services for people with dementia and their carers and health professionals and institutions. The work so far shows good results with the use of the methodology and highlights the limitations in relation to development projects aimed at sick people and their relatives.

Raphaëlle Stewart's PhD project is called “Effective implementation of sustainability in companies”. Integrating sustainability considerations and strategies in business is gaining increased attention due to concerns of policy-makers, other external stakeholders, and companies’ own agendas related to strategic and market positioning interests. A growing number of companies currently work on the implementation of sustainability criteria in decision-making contexts throughout the organization. However, practice shows that the implementation process is not straightforward. Academia provides a basis of empirical studies seeking to uncover what makes the implementation of sustainability in companies so complex. Among other difficulties, it is revealed that companies may lack strategy, goals, priorities and functional translation of these, when it comes to decide what and where to take sustainability action. The project seeks to further uncover these challenges by exploring how companies manage their environmental information and the extent to which it helps them create and reflect on their environmental sustainability vision, strategy and goals.

Julia Jacoby's PhD follows the working title "Experiences in chronic care. How can design support the integration of chronic illness into a patient's daily life." This thesis investigates whether design theory and method can help to better integrate care practices in chronic illness into a patients daily life. By reconsidering typologies of care and their continuous nature care practices can be influenced or changed for patients suffering from chronic diseases.

Åsa Snilstveit Hoem´s P.h.d project working title is "Safety of autonomy, remote control and operations of transport system (SAREPTA)". A safer and greener transport system is urgently needed. Further development of conventional technology will play a role in achieving this, but to reach the ultimate goals of zero accidents and full decarbonisation, new and revolutionary technologies are needed. Autonomy and fully or partly unmanned operation is one of the most promising candidates here. Some of the main problems are verifying safety/security, certification and costs of safe development. Improved design, verification methods and regulations may remove much of these problems, but these cannot be developed before the basic knowledge of the risks has been established. No systematic documentation of risk levels was identified when I performed a review of safety and security of autonomous systems. In other words, the most baisc prerequisite for effective risk management is missing, that is, a baseline description of the hazards involved in an activity. Without this knowledge, it will prove impossible to establish the risk based regulatory framework needed to ensure timely implementation of the beneficial aspects of autonomy. The PhD research will be a part of the larger NFR project dealing with the safety of autonomy, remote control and operations of transport system (SAREPTA). The vision i to "Enable the transition to a green, smart, safe and secure autonomous transport system". The project will contribute to this by building a scientific foundation that makes policies, decisions and public debates on autonomous systems knowledge-based rather than based on anectdotal evindece.

The main objectives of the project:

-Risk identification and risk levels

-Infrastructure vulnerabilities and threats

-Technical, human and operational barriers to mitigate autonomous system risks

-Organisational and human factors, as well as regulatory measures for risk mitigation

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations can be found in NTNU's digital scientific archive (NTNU Open). The database contains full text versions of research publications and student assignments.

Finished PhD projects

Below an overview of the finished PhD projects that were done at the department.


Martha Rice Skogen  - Do You See What I See? - Investigations into the Underlying Parameters of Visual Simplicity. This research investigates the fundamental phenomena underlying how people view, interpret, and understand visual stimuli, with simplicity as a basic constraining concept. Many exploratory studies were conducted in the real world as well as in the computer realm  of graphical user interfaces. The final set of studies using GUI icons revealed that youths did not consistently associate detail-scant icon designs with simplicity, but rather with being more complicated. This revealed a potential for a “window of transition” where people learn to understand minimalized, abstracted imagery that adults associate with being “simple”. 


Daniela Blauhut Handheld devices for use within integrated operations in the petroleum industry. There is little knowledge of the effects of hand held device design on efficient and safe plant operation. The aim of this research work is not to provide innovative technology but rather to emphasize the impacts of mobile technologies on people and business goals as well as on the physical and social environment in which technologies are used. Design criteria for handheld devices are suggested and three concepts of mobile devices evaluated to identify their opportunities and challenges.   


Brita Fladvad Nielsen's PhD dissertation is titled “Framing humanitarian action through design thinking”.  Her research focuses on how designers can take into account the needs of vulnerable end-user groups (refugees) in an inaccessible humanitarian relief context. He research has also emphasized the importance of integrating these considerations into a complex stakeholder system that humanitarian action represents. Her research was conducted in Norway and Ethiopia.

Alf Ove Braseth - Information-rich design: a concept for large-screen display graphics : design principles and graphic elements for real-world complex processes


Marikken Høiseth - Human-centered design considerations in healthcare contexts : young children as users of medical products 

Johannes Zachrisson Daae - Informing design for sustainable behaviour

Kirsi Maria Laitala - Clothing consumption : an interdisciplinary approach to design for environmental improvement


Bijan Aryana - Exploring design for country-specific customisation /

Ida Nilstad Pettersen - Changing practices : the role of design in supporting the sustainability of everyday life


Shahriman Bin Zainal Abidin - Practice-based design thinking for form development and detailing


Ulrik Lie - Framing an eclectic practice : historical models and narratives of product design as professional work 


Kjersti Øverbø Schulte - Design activities in the Norwegian seafood industry : a theoretical approach to understanding cooperation and communication


Hans Vanhauwaert Bjelland - Touching technology : design of haptic interaction 


Marianne Støren Berg - Foundations and evaluation of the space for action approach : customized process improvement for product development in small and medium sized enterprises


Kristin Støren Wigum - Human and ecological problem solving through radical design thinking : analyses and development of design theory and design framework based on long-term human needs and ecological sustainable principles


Thomas Hoff - Mind design : steps to an ecology of human-machine systems


Erik Lerdahl - Staging for creative collaboration in design teams : models, tools and methods


Trond Are Øritsland - A theory of discursive interaction design : mapping the development of quality and style in man machine interaction


Annegerd Lisæth - An analytical foundation for designing industrial ecological set-ups by reuse of product into new product development

Harald Vestøl - Design methods for high-volume automotive structures: Development of aluminium extrusion-based integrated seating systems