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VISUALIZING WATER CONSUMPTION How much water do I consume when I shower? How do I know if I spend more or less than the average person? How do I save on nature’s resources without lowering my living standard? Can design help me optimise my consumption to the benefit of our shared environment as well as my personal finances?

VISUALIZING WATER CONSUMPTION Design for increasing awareness of environmental issues in daily life

Grundfos is one of the international flagships of Danish industry. Grundfos pumps supply water and heat to people all over the world; discreetly, reliably and generally unnoticed by the end users who benefit from the company’s advanced technology.

bubble up

green life

eleonora korobitsyna

The Bubble Up unit creates a common awareness of household water consumption and encourages water saving. The consumption of each inhabitant is represented by a balloon. Above average consumption fills the balloon, and below average removes air. Extensive consumption makes the balloon explode.

Kolding School of Design trains designers to bridge the gap between technological possibilities and human needs both on a personal scale and in a societal perspective. The designer’s toolbox contains several effective instruments for conveying the hidden qualities of technology and allowing immaterial values such as sustainability and environmental responsibility to be visualized in concrete and tangible designs.

martin bo christiansen

The meter continuously sends information to Grundfos’ homepage Green Life. From here the household consumption data can be shared with other environmentally aware households via social media and can be included in water-saving competitions to inspire others to a greener and more water-efficient consumption behaviour.

standard of living

jette skibelund

The Standard of Living unit addresses the bodily sensory perception of the consumer using humour as a co-player. The water level of the bowl in the sculpture’s hand rises and falls according to daily consumption compared to average, thus encouraging awareness and caution when using water.

So, connecting Grundfos’ quiet, ubiquitous technology with the designer’s narrative competences like we have done in the collaboration project Visualizing Water Consumption seemed like the obvious thing to do. Eighteen industrial design students were presented with the task of visualizing household water consumption with a view to giving the end users – all of us – a better chance at becoming the resource conscious consumers that most of us want to be but struggle to become. The outcome is a series of projects that each present a unique way to get us to save on water; not by imposing restrictions or by finger-wagging but by expanding our options in terms of understanding and influencing our own consumption pattern. Some of the projects focus on introducing an element of play and competition in everyday life. Others focus on visualizing the flow of water and making us more aware of our consumption both in exact numbers and on an intuitive level. Others again use powerful metaphors with a strong emotional content that involve other areas of our lives. The projects show how designers are able to play a vital role in giving voice and shape to the unspoken narratives in our lives. Important narratives like the one about the life-giving water that will hopefully continue to flow in sufficient quantities for all of us and which good design can help us use responsibly, economically and with consideration for the environment.

© 2013 Kolding School of Design Ågade 10 6000 Kolding +45 76301100

Lecturers Ulla Toft Østergaard, Grundfos Mathilde Aggebo, Kolding School of Design Design and photos Michael Frederiksen, Just Add Design ISBN 978-87-90775-45-2

sara breitenbauch

The design of Bubble Conscious blends the familiarity of a wall clock with a stylized image of soap bubbles showing water consumption by filling up the bubbles. Each bubble represents a room in the house, and the size corresponds to the amount of water usually being consumed in each specific room.

The two stylized plants of Grow Up rise and fall according to the consumption of the family. When either of the plants looks withered, it means that the family has consumed more than they have specified. The simple symbolic language of the unit makes it well suited for families with young children.


simon grønlund

maribel carlander

The design of Bion refers to the hexagon, a traditional navigation device used by sailors at sea. It enables you to monitor your consumption at an intuitive as well as an informative level. From a distance you only get a hint as to whether your consumption is below or above average, but a close look at the display provides you with exact information.

CHN10 is inspired by the way water shapes rivers, cliffs and caves, telling the curvy story about the passage of water. The movement of the vertical sticks shows consumption over time, producing a curved contour conveying the water consumption of the day, week, or month.



christian nielsen

niels sylvester rasmussen

fish bowl

davin cowper

In more than 50 countries, Grundfos employees have donated sustainable water projects for villages in Kenya. The Water Donor enables every household with a Grundfos pump to donate clean water to Kenya by reducing the daily water consumption. The information unit shows the number of litres of clean water the household has donated.

the water donor

amalie ask bengtson

The design of Use With Care™ refers to doll’s houses, water pipes, the Grundfos Alpha pump and the human heart. As long as the household consumes with care, the heart displays a slow, steady rate of pulsating light. More water and heat consumption means more visible ”stress” on the heart and the pipes surrounding it.

use with care™

anne halskov

The design of Plug-it™ is based on childhood memories of pulling the stopper out of the sink and seeing the water going out the drain. The upper display shows the ongoing consumption. Pulling the stopper resets the upper display, and the collected water amount is transferred to the total consumption display at the bottom left.


per voss nielsen

KLONK helps you document your life – as long as you are being a responsible water consumer. As you consume, the device will register your life through sound recordings and make itself more and more visible to you. If you reach your maximum allocation consumption, KLONK will emerge completely and fall out.


jessica di nota

The lamp helps kids understand their own resource consumption in order to make them more environmentally conscious when they grow up. The small lamp uses coloured lights and happy and unhappy smiley faces to show its state of mind depending on how much water the child consumes.

kids’ lamp

mohammed al-adhami

A touch of gaming and humour rises the awareness of consumption in QBL. The trick is to keep the polar bear from drowning in the heat meter, the diver from being eaten by the shark in the water meter, and the factory from over-heating in the electricity meter. Like in real life, fate is in our hands.


bella laurina elmborg er side t s r o p the o n o

bubble conscious

matilde nyeland jørgensen


The Water Tower is an information pillar focusing on personal consumption. It receives consumption data from the wrist watch of each household member and shows your personal water consumption; both on an exact level at the top display and intuitively by shining various amounts of blue light through the side holes.

Live fish are swimming in the water inside the high glass pipe. The more water you use, the more the water level drops. If you over-consume all of the water will be gone and the fish will die. Fish Bowl demonstrates the consequences that our consumption has on other living creatures, fish and humans alike.

The unit sets out to create early awareness among the next generation; to prepare them for taking care of nature and not over-consuming. Its sliding elements move depending on the water consumption, and the child can watch the unit change shape when water is being consumed.

grow up

jon bak jensen

What does 21 degrees Celsius feel like? A hot and a cold thermos are sitting on a shelf encircled by an oak frame. When the frame is in balance the room is 21 degrees. You increase the temperature by pouring with the hot thermos. This disturbs the balance of the frame and shows the current deviation from the optimum temperature.

water tower

claus kørup

The device is inspired by mobiles and Fibonacci’s use of the golden section for building shapes. It appears dull when the water consumption is excessive. As the consumers become aware of their consumption and start to change it, the shape gradually alters and, as an object, becomes more exciting to look at.


Kolding School of Design and Grundfos: Design for increasing awareness of environmental issues in daily life


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