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Dr Michael Stead

Lecturer in Sustainable Design Futures


  • Democratising Innovation
  • Design Fiction
  • Design for Sustainability
  • Design Futures
  • Digital Interactions
  • Post-human Design
  • Socially Responsible Design
  • Speculative Design

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.


Research Projects

Michael has been collaborating with partners on the following funded projects:

Energy Systems Catapult, The Making Rooms and Subak on the EPSRC Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Hub funded InterNET ZERO: Towards Resource Responsible Trustworthy Autonomous Systems project which, in collaboration with Nottingham (computing) and Bristol (science & technology studies) colleagues, is co-designing visions and pathways for future, more resource responsible and trustworthy autonomous Internet technologies built on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

The Making Rooms, BBC Research & Development, Which? and NCC on the EPSRC Equitable Digital Society funded Fixing the Future: The Right-to-Repair and Equal-IoT project which combines research expertise from design (Imagination), HCI (Nottingham), technology law and ethics (Edinburgh) and the digital humanities (Napier) to investigate how we can collectively design, build and sustain more repairable and equitable electronic IoT devices as part of growing circular, digital economies across society.

The Making Rooms on the IAA ESRC EPSRC funded The Repair Shop 2049 project which has explored the Right-to-Repair electronic IoT devices and design pathways for developing local repair infrastructures and circular economies.

BBC Research & Development on the EPSRC PETRAS funded Edge of Reality project which has investigated the sustainability and cyber-security of data generated by our interactions with Edge-IoT technologies. This builds on the previously EPSRC PETRAS funded Edge of Tomorrow project.


PhD Supervision

Michael welcomes enquiries from potential students interested in researching new ways for designing and adopting more sustainable technologies, practices and infrastructures across society. Get in touch with Michael to discuss your ideas further – m.stead1@lancaster.ac.uk


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 developed the concept of spimes into a multidimensional lens which other designers, researchers and technologists can harness in order to 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 research.

Click on the images below to read the publications



Michael Stead's full list of publications can be viewed here

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