PhD thesis

On this page you can download my PhD thesis titled Implications of Social Practice Theory for Sustainable Design that I have written as a result of my PhD research at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering of Delft University of Technology.

About the thesis

Sustainable design faces challenges at a scale and level of complexity that are ill at ease with design’s mainstream focus on products and users. Recently, social practice theory has been suggested as a promising theoretical framework to inform new ways of designing. In social practice theory, practices – socially shared entities such as cleaning, cooking and playing – are taken as the fundamental unit of analysis. So far, however, design research in this area has been scattered and varying strongly in its interpretations of the implications of a ‘practice-orientation’. This thesis explores these implications through a series of empirical projects on the topics of bathing and staying warm at home and proposes a coherent practice-oriented approach to sustainable design.

The thesis was reviewed and approved by a committee consisting of the following members:

– Prof. ir. D.J. Van Eijk, Technische Universiteit Delft, promotor
– Dr. ir. A.M. De Jong, Technische Universiteit Delft and Interactive Insititute (Sweden), co-promotor
– Prof. dr. E. Shove, Lancaster University
– Prof. dr. W. Gaver, Goldsmiths University of London
– Prof. dr. ir. C. Boks, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
– P.P.C.C. Verbeek, Technische Universiteit Twente
– Prof. dr. E. Giaccardi, Technische Universiteit Delft


You can download a pfd of the complete thesis, or pfd’s of particular parts of the thesis by selecting an item in the list.

Complete PhD thesis – Implications of Social Practice Theory for Sustainable Design




Part I Theoretical Foundations
– Ch2. Sustainable Design
– Ch3. Practice Theory
– Ch4. Practice-Oriented Design

Part II Proposed Approach
– Ch5. Practices as a Unit of Analysis
– Ch6. Practices as a Unit of Design

Part III Empirical Projects
– Ch7. Bathing
– Ch8. Staying Warm





About the author

Lenneke (Semke Cornelia) Kuijer was born on June 28th 1981, in Heerenveen. After completing her secondary education Cum Laude at the Bornego College in Heerenveen, she enrolled in the bachelor program at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering of TU Delft in September 1999 with a talent scholarship. In August 2006, she obtained her master degree in Innovation Management, with an appendix on ‘Technology in Sustainable Development’ in the same Faculty. During her studies, Lenneke spent a total of 9 months in Japan, in 2003 as an exchange student at Kyoto University and in 2005 as an intern in the R&D centre of Toshiba in Yokohama. In 2004-2005 she participated as a delegate in the Harvard National Model United Nations,  as part of a course organized by the Radboud University, Nijmegen.

After graduation, Lenneke worked as a coordinator of international student affairs for the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering for two years, after which she started her PhD research in November 2008 at the Department of Industrial Design. The PhD was initially situated within the EU funded Living Lab project involving a design study for a Living Lab research infrastructure, in which Lenneke was an active member. After the Living Lab project was completed, Lenneke continued her research and later became informally involved in its successor project, SusLabNWE. During her PhD research, Lenneke spent three months at the Sociology Department of Lancaster University in the UK under supervision of Professor Elizabeth Shove.