Richard Farson, PhD, psychologist and author of The Power of Design, perhaps overstates his case when he writes, “Design, the creation of form, has the power to transform culture, ignite education, foster community and even broker peace.” Wow!
I think that the most powerful design fields are Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Interior Design because people experience life (and space) in 3 dimensions. It’s hard to avoid feeling the results of any particular design, whether those feelings are intended or not intended by the designers. So if a space/design engenders a reaction, a feeling, then as designers, let’s make that feeling the intended one. We all have heard the term “unintended consequences” as it is used in reference to our behaviors. Let’s think about the consequences of our design decisions and strive to achieve the intended ones.
If we want to “broker peace,” architecture may not be the first tool that we think of; but if we want to foster community, architecture really matters. Lofty goals can be achieved if we embrace them. Let’s consider the effects of our design choices on the people who will use the spaces we create.
Jon Kolko wrote in the Harvard Business Review on the evolution of design thinking: “Design is empathetic, and thus implicitly drives a more thoughtful, human approach to business.” If designers can remember that they are working to enhance the lives of people, not just to have fancy photographs in design magazines, then the full power of design can be implemented for “good.” Maybe we can avoid the unintended consequences of our design actions and achieve our intentions – enhancing the human experience.
Human-centered design thinking means thinking about people first. Asking questions about the needs of the people and the goals of the community is the first step of design thinking. Human-centered design thinking could make the world a better place for people who work, play, age, live and learn. If you have a project that could use better, human-centered thinking and project pre-planning, call us. Let’s embrace the power of design!