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What we’re talking
Designing For Humanity
Designing a future that’s made for all of us—and the best in us.
Design, at its heart, is an act of service. It’s the work of solving problems for the benefit of others.
But the world’s most complex challenges require something more comprehensive than our existing design frameworks. Climate change, migration, food distribution. The future of work and education. Bigotry, tribalism, and inequality. How do we design for problems that exist on a global scale? Problems where everyone really is our end user? How might we truly design for humanity?
In this podcast, host Rie Nørregaard interviews brilliant design minds—product designers, industrial designers, advocates, and more—to explore what it means to design for humanity and what new ways of thinking and methods are required for problem solvers of all kinds.
Rie Norregaard is a Principal at SYPartners. Previously, Rie co-founded and was CEO of Omhu, and worked as a creative director at leading design firms, such as Smart Design, Organic, Quirky, and Frog Design. Outside of her role at SYPartners, Rie is an advisor to several tech and consumer product start-ups, and is a frequent speaker in the international design and design education communities.
Episode 8: What it means to design for humanity, with Rie Nørregaard
Through conversations on Designing for Humanity, and her work at SYPartners, host Rie Nørregaard has been trying to discern what might be required for a new design framework that can address increasingly complex and systemic challenges. In this episode, the tables are turned. As the episode guest, Rie shares how her own thinking about design has evolved on her journey in understanding how to design for humanity.
Episode 7: Advocating for inclusivity through art and conversation, with Shannon Finnegan & Sugandha Gupta
Artists and makers Shannon Finnegan and Sugandha Gupta pull inspiration from personal experiences to provoke conversation and insights through their work—about activism, inclusivity, and the experience of enjoying art itself.
In this episode, Sugandha and Shannon discuss the possible shortcomings—and inadvertent exclusivity—of existing design frameworks, and how organizations can be welcoming spaces for disabled people. They also tell us about their experiences as part of the inaugural cohort of the WITH Fellowship, a program run by The Disabled List that places disabled talent in top design studios and fosters authentic conversations about differences.
Shannon Finnegan explores disability culture and access through different modes of design, art, and writing. She has done projects with The Invisible Dog, Friends of the High Line, and Wassaic Project, where she created the Anti-Stairs Club Lounge.
Sugandha Gupta uses a variety of different materials, everything from paper to wool, to create a holistic art experience that spans the senses. From sound, to smell, to tactile feel, she is breaking the expectation of experiencing physical art only through sight.
Episode 6: Imagining alternate pasts and possible futures, with Marti Romances
Imagine an alien planet, or a dystopian society. What does it look like, sound like, or feel like? These are the questions that Marti Romances seeks to answer when he brings creative visions to life in blockbuster movies. In this episode, Marti explains the collaborative process between directors and designers to create believable futures that don’t yet exist, one that requires drawing inspiration from diverse and surprising sources.
Marti Romances is a Creative Director at Territory, where he has worked on numerous films, including Bladerunner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ex Machina and The Martian. He has also worked on video games for Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and Activision.
Episode 5: Blockchain, escape rooms, and small experiments: designing for equity in education, with Laura McBain
As the co-director of the Stanford d.school K12 Lab, Laura McBain is exploring how to disrupt inequity in the classroom and unleash creative confidence in educators. In this episode, Laura walks us through how she applies design to re-imagine everything from common core assessments to safe spaces, among other challenges facing our American education system. How might learning experiences be different for students of all ages if teachers and principals were recognized as designers?
Laura McBain has been a teacher, principal, and coach, and is currently the co-director of the Stanford d.school K12 Lab. Prior to joining the d.school, Laura helped found High Tech High, a non-profit charter aimed at applying design thinking to primary and secondary education.
Episode 4: A professional “catastrophizer” brings creativity to crises, with Gabby Almon
What happens when you take inspiration from Disney Imagineers and apply it to disaster relief and humanitarian crises? Find out from Gabby Almon, who’s bringing together creatives and government teams to collaborate in hopeful new ways around challenges such as extremism and refugee migration. “We are in new times,” Gabby says, “We need to completely rethink how we do business, how we serve people, and how we even view problems.”
Gabby is a trusted advisor to government, philanthropic, and tech sector leaders; a member of FEMA’s National Advisory Council; and Founder of Rise of the Bulls—a changemaker network and laboratory.
Episode 3: When a designer meets a social worker, with Tucker Viemeister
For Tucker Viemeister, there’s never been a separation between the making side of design and the social side. “It all boils down to how people treat each other,” he tells us in this episode, along with a variety of insights and stories from his famed design career, including the backstory of the award-winning Oxo Good Grips kitchen tools and why optimism is such an important quality for designers.
Tucker has played a key role in some of the most influential design businesses in the world today, including founding Smart Design and opening Frog Design’s New York office. He holds 32 patents, and his work can be found in permanent museum collections around the world—and at www.tuckerviemeister.com
Episode 2: Building a runway for change in fashion, at 3’5”, with Sinéad Burke
“As a society, we look at accessibility as something which is ugly, but my question is, ‘Why don’t we look at it as an opportunity for innovation and creativity?’” Writer, activist, and fashion enthusiast, Sinéad Burke gives us a unique glimpse into her life with achondroplasia and the fascinating places it has taken her—from TED to Davos to Burberry’s design studio.
After hearing Sinéad’s compelling stories, you’ll never look at design—buildings, iconography, fashion—the same way again.
Episode 1: Time for tech to get inclusive, with Kat Holmes
“Inclusion has risen to the top of many organizations, but what to do next is still unclear.” In this episode, Kat Holmes opens our eyes to bias and exclusion in the design process of everyday objects and technologies, and introduces a new hypothesis for how to break the cycle.
Kat is a pioneer of inclusive design, previously at Microsoft and currently as founder at Kata. Her award-winning Inclusive Design toolkit is widely recognized as a radical evolution of design thinking and she was recently recognized as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business.
You can order Kat’s book Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design on Amazon here.