• 12/12/2022
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Humanity centered design: Path to sustainability in design

Our world is making a conscious shift from human to humanity centered design. Considered to be one way to revolutionize management practices including design concepts. This revolution is backed by the need for sustainable products and services and responsible businesses. With global concerns like climate change, design towards humanity has become a part of business innovations.

Designers have an important responsibility towards changing consumer patterns and consumption habits with products and services that excite the consumer towards more sustainable options.

Also interesting to read: How product design is re-shaping experiences for the visually imparied

Human centric design

When we analyse the context of Human centric design, it essentially means a deep focus on the individuals for whom the design is intended for. A dominant approach in design for a few decades now, this approach is based on the philosophy that helps to empower an individual/ team to design products, services, systems, and other things that are addressing the core needs of people/ individuals who have experienced a problem.

One can say that this approach has an obsessive focus on understanding the full perspective of the person who is experiencing a problem, their needs and aiming to find a solution that truly helps to solve the problem effectively. The most effective solution in this approach is when the person experiencing the issue is usually an integral part of the design process.

Also interesting to read: Apple Electric car project: What to expect from its design

Humanity centric design

Over the past 4 decades while there has been a strong focus on human centric design, the world has also been growing an increased concern for the environment, its impact on people along with other societal issues. Enter the phrase, Humanity centric design, a design that focuses on and emphasizes the rights of all of humanity, a design that addresses the entire ecosystem of earth into consideration.

It can be explained as a challenge for the designer where he/she can help improve the lives of people. It expands the human centric notion of one person/ one team to an entire society who collectively face highly complex and interrelated issues. These issues are often tangled up in a large scale, sophisticated and human caused system.

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Humanity focused design can also be a path to sustainability

Do you wonder why we are in a fundamental shift from ‘human’ to ‘humanity’ centric design? And how are these two similar sounding words so different from each other? What are the reasons this move has become essential for the design community?

It’s about stretching beyond customers’ behaviour and impact and also factor in the overall wide impact of design on our society and planet. Here are three elements to consider:

People: While human centered design is focused to exclusively make the end user as their prime focus, it has largely failed to bring into picture other stakeholders. Humanity centric design is also concerned with – who gets affected by the packaging waste, are the workers affected by the exploitative practices, what does the supply chain look like amongst other aspects where people are directly impacted.

Sourcing: Humanity centric design is also bringing to picture other stages of a product cycle – this asking and considering where most of the raw material comes from, what is the waste product left and how is that taken care of? Human focused design fails to acknowledge this impact over the limited resources of our planet while taking care of only end-users needs.

Social and economic: This is a key area that human centric design fails to integrate into its design concept and execution. It’s the discussion on how design can help a consumer and their planet that goes beyond convenience, usability, cost and others. Humanity centric design cares about not dropping the ball on sustainability and making sure there is something the design is giving back to the planet and its society.

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To understand the shift better, we can put it in simple terms:
– New perspective is about ‘At what cost?’, rather than simply asking ‘How can we?’
– New timelines involve disregarding the short termism, focusing on long term problems with society in mind.
– New methodology builds on adopting best practices while capturing the goal (societal).

This shift in design makes us understand that when we design for humanity at large, we cannot stop at just people, we must consider all living things, preserve and work to enhance the quality of water, air and our surrounding land. Humanity centric design understands that change in one component can impact every other component and that we are an integral part of the overarching system of Earth, and we must act in a way to preserve its essence.

Also interesting to read: Trends shaping the future of automotive design

Design firms are now looking to make these conscious changes and are offering formal sustainability positions and offers that are focused on environmental design. The global giants like BMW, Nike, Levis, Philips Design amongst others are also part of this change where their corporate design teams are making room for sustainable design positions reflecting their commitment to sustainable practices, developing expertise in the area and becoming champions of humanity centered design. It’s an evolutionary step for the design sector that is changing the foundations of what we have known.

When you join Strate, humanity centric design is the core focus of the learning process. The pedagogy is deep rooted in making you a designer that works on a solution-oriented approach while keeping in mind the planet and its limited resources. Strate encourages teamwork, and helps you to network with your peers, alumni, and industry professionals. Learn more on the course offered in design here.


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