Viridian Electricity Meter Competition

From: John Thomas (
Date: Fri Feb 11 2000 - 20:09:04 MST

At the risk of setting off John Novak again :-) I'm forwarding this interesting (to me) post from Bruce Sterling. Natasha might like it.

--- Bruce Sterling <> wrote:

> The Sustainability Institute
> in cooperation with
> The International Network of Resource Information Centers
> (aka the Balaton Group)
> announces
> A Total of $8000 USD in Prizes
> will be awarded for excellence
> in the design of a functional and aesthetically dazzling
> The Viridian Electricity Meter is a household energy
> consumption meter that resides in a prominent place inside
> the home. Its purpose is to provide accurate, compelling,
> and artistically fascinating feedback to homeowners about
> their current energy use. Users are rewarded
> aesthetically for reducing energy consumption (and for
> switching their energy source to a renewable one). In
> other words, the more sustainable their energy
> consumption, the more beautiful and fascinating the
> meters' display.
> Viridian Meters should be technically accurate,
> artistically creative, adaptable to many different
> cultural contexts, marketable, and above all, very, very
> cool. Commercially produced Viridian Meters should be
> capable of generating consumer desire. The ideal Viridian
> Electricity Meter would be so attractive, people would
> simply want one, regardless of whether they personally
> cared very much about saving energy.
> Design specifications and submission instructions (below)
> should be followed carefully. Background on the Viridian
> design movement follows.
> Background on The Viridian Movement and the Viridian Meter
> The term viridian == a word referring to a bluish shade of
> green -- was adopted by U.S. science fiction author Bruce
> Sterling as the name for the design movement he initiated
> in 1999, and launched formally with a Manifesto on January
> 3, 2000. The intent of the Viridian Movement is to
> stimulate the reinvention of everyday products and
> technologies in the industrial world, so that they are
> both environmentally benign and aesthetically superior to
> products now in use. (To read more about the Viridian
> Movement, visit its website:
> The concept of the Viridian Electricity Meter originated
> with Stefan Jones, a member of the Viridian Curia (an
> international core group of designers and writers, linked
> by internet). The Meter began, like most Viridian ideas,
> as an imaginary product, for which Bruce Sterling wrote
> the following imaginary advertisement:
> "One of the most offensive artifacts of the twentieth
> century is the standard household energy meter. This
> ugly gizmo clings like a barnacle to the outside of your
> home, readable only by functionaries. Clumsily painted
> in battleship gray, this network spy device features
> creepy, illegible little clock-dials, under an ungainly
> glass dome. Look a bit closer, and this user- hostile
> interface deliberately insults you, with a hateful anti-
> theft warning, and a foul little lockbox.
> "This crass device is designed to leave you in stellar
> ignorance of your own energy usage. It publicly brands
> you as a helpless peon, a technically-illiterate source of
> cash for remote, uncaring utility lords.
> "But today, thanks to the Viridian Electrical Meter, the
> tables are turned. The Viridian Meter is not some
> utility spy device, but a user-owned art object!"
> The purpose of the competition is to bring forward as many
> different design ideas for the Viridian Meter as possible,
> to increase the likelihood of discovering one or more
> ideas with the potential for being manufactured and
> distributed in the mass market.
> The competition sponsors therefore encourage maximum
> design creativity and diversity in reinterpreting the
> Viridian Meter concept, together with technical accuracy,
> functional utility, and consumer ease-of-use.
> Procedure for Submissions
> The Competition will proceed in two rounds. In the first
> round, entering teams or individuals will submit a one-
> page written description of their proposed Meter, a one-
> page description of the individual or team submitting the
> design, and (optional) a one-page artist's conceptual
> drawing or technical schematic drawing of the proposed
> Meter. The written description should be clear, colorful,
> and compelling, while also conveying the following key
> facts:
> O=c=O Visual appearance of the meter
> O=c=O Manner in which information on energy consumption
> will be displayed
> O=c=O Basic technical description of how energy usage will
> be monitored
> O=c=O Intended position within a residence (e.g., wall-
> mounted, table-top, etc.)
> O=c=O Materials and components to be used in construction
> Participants should also indicate whether they are able to
> construct a working prototype of their design.
> In the second round, up to fifteen Finalists will be
> invited to submit a more detailed schematic proposal and,
> if feasible, a working prototype.
> The competition judges will then select anywhere from one
> to eight winners, depending on the quality of the
> submissions, and divide the prize money as they see fit.
> Winners will have their work featured on a competition web
> site, and their designs may be introduced to potential
> manufacturers and retailers. Features articles about the
> competition will be written and submitted to leading art
> and design magazines. Entrants will retain all rights to
> their designs, but Finalists will sign agreements allowing
> the Sustainability Institute to reproduce images of their
> submissions.
> Submissions on paper should be sent to:
> Sustainability Institute/Viridian Competition
> PO Box 174
> Hartland Four Corners, VT 05049 USA
> Email Submissions should be sent to:
> If your submission is also available on a web site, please
> include the URL.
> For additional information, please write to the address
> above or send an email to
> Competition Timeline
> Deadline for initial submissions: May 31, 2000
> Announcement and notification to Finalists: June 15, 2000
> Deadline for Finalist submissions: August 15, 2000
> Announcement of winners and prizes awarded: October 1,
> 2000
> Note: All submission documents become the property of
> Sustainability Institute and will not be returned. Please
> retain copies for your own records.
> First International Viridian Design Competition
> Sustainability Institute/Viridian Competition
> PO Box 174
> Hartland Four Corners, VT 05049 USA

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