Real design for real people
Design & Human is a design firm with a human basis approach, to help conceiving interfaces, products, services, identities and, in general, any kind of contemporary forms expression. Design & Human helps NGOs, companies, start-ups, associations and the public sector to innovate through a radical vision, both ethical and human. Founded by Geoffrey Dorne, designer for 10 years, Design & Human works and collaborates with many talents (graphic designers, illustrators, ergonomists, sociologists, etc.) to create a made to measure user-centric product.
Work with us:Contact us: DesignAndHuman@protonmail.com
The most important question of our lives is: “For whom do I do all of this?”. For others, for those who need it, for the children of my children, for the elderly, for the generations to come. For you.
We must know how to say “ no” and be the change we want to see in this world. Asking ethical questions is above all a way of moving forward with a concrete and sensitive vision in the design process of a project.
Radicality is about making choices. These choices can be the simplicity, the strength of the message, the absence of compromise or to go to the end of its ideals through a creative impulse. This radicality is an utopian direction which we must constantly try to move towards.
Consumer, customer, user, reader: so many names that attempt to address the first fundamental question of design: whom is it made for? At a time when Makers are able to do anything, where developers become entrepreneurs in a few weeks and even where everyone is a graphic designer, each one of us seems to be the actor of change which they aspire to. An actor? Yes. A director? No. The current trend of design thinking tends to make almost everybody believe that with post-it and brainstorming, each one of us can become a designer. Unfortunately, this method is very popular because of its simple and transversal approach of design.
What is your user approach ?
Design thinking was popularized by Tim Brown, head of Ideo, a famous Californian design agency. The basic idea of his method seems quite valid as it aims to integrate people’s needs, whilst taking into account technological and economic opportunities. However, in reality, the purpose of design thinking is not to transform someone into a designer but to offer to everyone to think about design and its uses. Thus, it leads to question “whom design is made for?”. Who is the user for whom we create? In fact, this user is someone with whom we should have some empathy ; empathy being an essential component of design. Etymologically “empathy” originates from the Latin word pathos, meaning “suffering”. Designers, to do your job well you’ll have to “suffer with” your user. Your user must inspire your design approach when you do a poster, an object, an interface… To quote Joel de Rosnay, this is like an “empathetic flow” that will allow you to put yourself in the place of others, to understand their emotions and feelings and, therefore, to offer a singular answer through design.
Our logo, our vision
As a matter of fact, a company does not solely focus on the final users of its products, but also on its business model, its technical and social issues, its prospects in the short and long term, its governance or its competitors. If all stakes of a company could be summarized in a metaphorical dashboard, the user would be a factor amongst others, often set to zero, in favour of other issues, including economic ones.
Fortunately, some companies and some designers are able to escape this logic of interdependent factors. They try to have a holistic economic, human, technical and innovative model, including ethics. This is the case of companies that are (or have been) leaders in their respective fields, such as Dyson, Nokia, Steelcase, Muji, Braun, Nintendo, NASA or Porsche, whose manuals for mechanics specified, at that time, to reset the time clock on the dashboard after any battery reconnection. Attention to detail of course, but focusing on the user first.
Nintendo old user manual
In material, graphical or digital design, ethics is the strong bond that unites all different factors. Ethics rationalise the entire process of design. Ethics, in design, may take the form of social status (for companies in the social and solidarity economy, for instance). Ethics may take the form of a responsible environment charter. Ethics can also appear as a fair process within relationships with a company’s employees, partners or sponsors. Ethics can question real aims and the consequences of projects that a company performs. Finally, at an individual level, design ethics also results from our designer actions. Everybody who would follow this approach would try to maintain a certain course of action. Is that enough to change things?
- Any design product is an act with meanings and intentions.
- Form is the result of its product.
- Innovation is social, not technological.
- Design is a responsible and ethical work.
- A product must be understood by its user, not the opposite.
- Design can be fun and human only if it is free and based on truth.
- Design is to everyone’s attention whereas it’s open to all.
- A designer shall guide its work and shall refuse to do some things.
- In a human perspective, all technological possibilities aren’t to be done.
- Design is human-centered before being product-centered.
Yes it is. And it starts like that.
It is obvious that the purpose of design is also to serve everyone: citizens and communities. It is in this valuable direction that the 21st century seems to continue. Whether designing a hand prosthesis in 3D printing for his own son, or a public campaign for his sick mother, an mobile application that helps refugees communicate using simple pictograms, or a handbook for countries that do not have clean water, or a symbol to rethink disability, or a cleaning system for mined fields in Afghanistan: designers contributes to the urge to find out answers to any community problems. Recently, even Philippe Starck, our French representative of design abroad, seems to hold a similar line. About his “Ideas box” project, a humanitarian library, he humbly stated that this design “deserves to exist because its existence is primarily to serve the people with urgent needs, people who have lost everything.”
Mine Kafon by Massoud Hassani & his team
Forget about B2B or B2C: market-based design is over. Here comes H2H, understand “Human to Human”, a term theorized by Bryan Kramer, author of the eponymous book. The H2H idea is not just technical or hierarchical but it is based on the enrichment of digital and tangible relationships that transforms society from top to bottom. A designer can therefore design a poster campaign for animal protection, then place it under an open license, share it via the Internet and see it reused by another designer on the other side of the world who will turn it into another creation. A creation that can be reused again and again. An applied H2H approach to design would be a creative virtuous cycle centered on humans. With the additional fact of almost unlimited access to know-how, any kind of machinery, possibility to collaborate on various projects, cooperative building, cooperative coding, cooperative designing: some middlemen will shortly vanish in benefit of the common good. It’s a renewed philosophy in digital society era.
Designing for whom?
Now everyone can ask themselves the question of what design ethics is, and whom it is made for. Thus, everyone has to adapt its own modes of creation, communication and consumption through a designer perspective. Bearing in mind that this model is gradually replacing the previous one, you will find below five values for a human-based design. When you create something, whether it’s the simplest interface or a much larger and ambitious project, you shall keep these in mind:
- Altruism as a generator of ideas. If our actions, as designers, have no apparent advantage for us but are beneficial to individuals who receive them, your ideas will be nothing but better;
- Sharing know-how and spreading knowledge. Inspired by the current trend in design research, all knowledge created during the process must be shared in order to increase overall expertise. As far as spreading knowledge is concerned, it is a compulsory key element;
- There is not a sole truth and the more diverse the design is, the deeper the project is. There is not a single solution or answer. A rich path leads the user to experience the object or to find a logo. In that way, the user will feel touched and will be involved in the process;
- A human-based design is primarily based on empathy and otherness experience. Long before the production of anti-homeless benches, in 1605 the first Parisian public benches were designed with two symmetrical foundations to encourage a meeting, or an exchange;
- Finally, Ethics is the global principle. A design without ethics is meaningless, considering that by its definition, the word “design” expresses a harmonious blend of “conception” and “intention”, between the form and the will to act. Ethics reflects also the consideration of the user and the people who inspire the designer.
What does design bring to human beings?
Whether you are a typographer, a graphic designer, an illustrator, a web designer, a product designer, a developer or general designer; whether you are an employee or an independent worker, the opportunities to change your environment and change the world are reachable. You have the ability to create, to act, to design and to find out together why designers deserve to exist and to finally answer this question: what does design bring to human beings?
E-mail : DesignAndHuman@protonmail.com
Phone : +33 6 76 91 62 01