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If we can only design on what we know, how do we design for the future human? Understanding the diverse experiences that make us human can help us imagine the future us that will continue to face global issues that degrade the planet and design with them in mind.

20 February 2023 • 2 min read

Photo by Norbert Braun on Unsplash

We’ve created a big problem. Human centred design in its current state is flawed. While it’s a discipline that understands human experience, and rightfully we’re anchoring ourselves within this, what we often forget, is the ‘future’ human. Consider for a moment whether we are stuck in the short term, designing for contemporary life and not a necessary one. Are current human-centred practices complete?

To spark discussion and new thinking, today’s businesses must propose an adjustment to the rules of what makes ‘design’ truly human-centred. At my own company, KIND Community, we envision ideation, planning, conception and testing processes that reflect the needs of our planet and its future inhabitants. This, we hope, can guide thinking in an assuredly sustainable direction — completing the rulebook.


Environment-first is synonymous with human-first. They are not, and never will be, mutually exclusive. But of course there are a multitude of different facets to this. With all that we consume we must think beyond simple management and sourcing of sustainable materials. We have to include life-span and contributions to a circular economy as primary factors in product development. Diverse human experiences must be taken into account too. Therefore it is imperative that we create with accessibility in mind and inclusivity at the forefront.

We must ask ourselves in the planning stages whether environmental and social consequences are being considered or neglected — then prioritise and act upon the answers.

Designing for the immediate human can be powerful, but ultimately short-sighted. Look instead to the end-user in a world facing a climate crisis. Design for them. True human-centred design should never place profit before or at the expense of humanitarian needs, whether that be the human of today or the human of tomorrow.

Let’s detach from our immediate selves to analyse, prototype and redesign via our future selves. Remain teachable, adaptable and consider every design opportunity a chance to improve the future human experience.

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