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

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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?

Speakers
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 through workshops, training programs, and coaching, along with projects encompassing early stage design research, co-design, and service design. Thomas has... Read More →


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