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Future of Design, Future of Us?

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On Earth, where limits are limitless, money drives the notions of power and we grow more complex and complicated every day. At times it becomes hard to slow down, perhaps smell the roses or sit alone with the absence of technology and enjoy a cup of tea under the first light from the sun.

We are an unsettled race of human beings, looking for distraction of progression or advancement, to better our lives in some way or the other. Perhaps that is by jumping into the metro because you’re in a rush and getting late for work. Never bothered to witness the beautiful view of the city as you cross the bridge. Not feeling awful for ignoring the old man who smiled and said good morning as he walked his dog peacefully. Never mind, you must rush, tell me again, where are you going?

You see the future of Design is dependent on our individual and collective values. Design Values are the fundamental principles that define us and stay with us even when time , technology, context and the world changes and therefore are essential at all levels be it for an individual or a tech-giant.

With a society dependent on rushing, advancing, and distracting, we are building a numb society, impervious to empathy, compassion, and very basics of philosophy, disrespecting values and boundaries, lost in the pseudo world of ‘creating for better’ when in reality we fail to create and design better lives for our individual selves, to begin with.

Technology and Us

In the past, we have seen designers create blindly. Blind of the consequences that the product or system will have, eventually jeopardizing the actual purpose of resolving the issue. Ignoring the ‘what ifs’, rather striving for ‘what wow's”! I do not wish to design yet another physical product made using materials that can last for decades if not centuries and still holds a mere two years of shelf life.

I do not wish to build just another app to follow the forecasted trend of the decade without a purpose and distract humans from the outside world. This being said does not apply that I do not acknowledge the power of growing technology. Fundamentally, technology combined with machinery is a tool that helps us do things better, faster, or more efficiently. However, it’s important to identify and separate which technology will help you not at the cost of damaging your self-dependence and more importantly, hampering nature.

I strive to solve the problems, problems that haven’t arrived yet though have their roots planted in today’s world. The problems we have implicated on ourselves. The future of design is about going beyond designing for current times.

Diversity and Inclusivity

Strive to be an ally for diversity. To include the excluded. To support diversity within the design community. We must put them at the forefront of what we do. The only way we can do this is by having a plethora of diverse people on our plate. Designing based on their familiarity with issues of today rather than the textbooks studies. It is through this that we elevate our users and impact positively because ultimately a solution will have a better chance at being convenient and useful if the designer is not assuming rather has experienced or knows the problem as a first hand user.

Environment-centered design

In our urge to design the ‘human centered’ way, we rarely focus on what our ecosystem as a whole needs, wants or most importantly, can sustain. Human needs are important, however, equally important is to analyse things from a macro level and be more considerate and better balanced when coming up with design solutions. Digital advances in product design are creating new pathways to boost both environmental sustainability and profit margins. Interesting time for the design industry to challenge, explore, reinvent and reimagine the way we do digital design. Perhaps, the need of the hour is to focus following an environment-centre framework including all the stakeholders, humans or non-humans regardless of the output being a tangible or a non-tangible product.

Ethical Oath and Self-realization

To create an oath, boundary or common understanding of what designers evaluate as wrong and right ethically. How may we bond based on what we believe will secure a more just, wiser, empathetic, and kinder world? We may need to devise new pathways different from the design paradigm that is at present followed by most of the veteran designers across the world.

I believe that just as a doctor takes a Hippocratic Oath before practicing, designers must also. We too, hold the lives of people in our hands. Without it, we have seen the devastation. We have seen people fall at the feet of another holding a product made by man.

We are witnessing global crises like climate change and extinction of species and resources because of a culture based on taking, again, created by man. We will continue to see the consequences if we, as designers, as humans, are not held accountable or reprimanded for our selfish makings and doings.

Our aim should not be to design the best of shoes rather make sure everyone owns a pair of them. Our aim should not be to have a maximum number of downloads of a cancer detection app we curate but to make sure that maximum people could become aware of their health status sitting at home.

There is no one better than designers to create notions of reconnection, inclusivity, diversity, with ethical barriers, crafted with the utmost respect for all, not just for mankind but the overall nature. The future of design is in our hands. We determine what it will be. If we decide to hold ourselves back, then the only people we are fighting is ourselves. This is what we must strive for. Start by pondering on your individual doings, introspecting and rectifying the wrongs and you will start noticing the change you always crave for.

Originally published at https://www.onething.design on March 22, 2021.


Future of Design, Future of Us? was originally published in Muzli – Design Inspiration on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.