Dr Michael Stead

Lecturer in Sustainable Design Futures

(Un)Sustainable technologies, Net Zero, Circular Economy, Research through Design, Prototyping, Visualisation

The decarbonisation of global economies is imperative for the long-term sustainability of the planet. From energy production through manufacturing to within the home, emerging so-called ‘smart’ data-driven technologies like the Internet of Things, Edge ComputingDigital Fabrication and Artificial Intelligence are increasingly being embraced throughout society, yet the wider environmental impacts of this rapid shift are little understood.

Michael’s current research applies and advances approaches including Research through Design and Speculative Design to prototype and evaluate radical new visions for low carbon futures which critically and creatively interrogate the evolving relationship between emerging data-driven technologies and key sustainability challenges such as Net Zero 2050 and the Circular Economy.

In doing so, his work aims to develop innovative design approaches and tools in collaboration with industry, policymakers and publics which raise awareness and support the adoption of sustainable and equitable data-driven technologies and related practices.

With emphasis on the responsible decentralisation and democratisation of technologies, his research investigates cross-cutting themes including Right-to-Repair, Data Sustainability, Distributed Manufacturing and Post-scarcity Economies.

Michael’s full list of publications can be viewed here.

Michael is currently collaborating with partners:

  • BBC Research & Development on the EPSRC PETRAS funded Edge of Tomorrow project which is investigating the sustainability and cyber-security of data generated by our interactions with Edge-IoT technologies.
  • The Making Rooms on the IAA ESRC EPSRC funded The Repair Shop 2049 project which is exploring the Right-to-Repair IoT devices and pathways for developing local repair infrastructures and circular economies.


Designing  A Sustainable Internet of Things

Michael’s doctoral research focused on the environmental impacts of industrial product design in the age of ubiquitous computing, specifically the sustainability of the Internet of Things. Through practice-led design research, Michael has developed the concept of spimes into a multidimensional lens which other designers, researchers and technologists can readily harness in order to radically reframe their IoT praxis to have sustainability baked-in from the outset.

The Little Book of Sustainability for the Internet of Things and the sustainable design manifesto Spimes Not Things serve as introductions to Michael’s doctoral research.

Click on the images below to read the publications