IA Summit 2017 has ended
Learn More  |  Register  |  Sponsor  |  Join Mailing List  |  Follow Us on Twitter

Pre-conference Workshops: Wednesday, March 22 & Thursday, March 23, 2017
Main Conference: Friday, March 24 - Sunday, March 26, 2017 
Back To Schedule
Saturday, March 25 • 10:15am - 11:00am
Decentering Design

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

Feedback form is now closed.
Human-centricity is a fundamental assumption of contemporary commercial design. And for good reason: if one is expected to pay (monetarily or otherwise) for a product or service, it should meet a previously unmet or under-met need.

However, the ease with which we—as ego-centric, “rational” beings—conflate lasting human needs with shortsighted, market-driven human wants will only lead us deeper into unsustainable futures. My central thesis for this presentation is that human-centricity promotes an anthropocentric point of view that ultimately leads to a proliferation of status quo capitalist design, unsustainability, and a false sense of politically neutral design.

I argue that while human-centered design is generally a progressive step, it fails to account for (eco)systemic, ethical, moral, and sustainability issues that are integral to design but are often ignored in commercial settings. The very idea of “centricity” forecloses on issues outside that center.

"Human-centered" is quickly and ironically becoming a euphemism for "market-centered."

Put simply, humans need, want, and desire terrible things—from war to cigarettes to factory farms, we can trace back every cultural atrocity to market-driven human wants. So instead of human-centricity, perhaps we should be questioning whether design needs a center at all. Could de-centering design result in more sustainable, system-level design decisions?

avatar for Thomas Wendt

Thomas Wendt

Design Strategist and Independent Scholar, Thomas Wendt
Thomas Wendt is an independent design strategist, author, facilitator, activist, educator, and speaker based in New York City. He splits his time between client engagements and independent scholarship. His client work includes building sustainable human-centered design capabilities... Read More →

Saturday March 25, 2017 10:15am - 11:00am PDT
Regency D