Intive Blog

Environment-Centered Design is here, or at least it should be

In times of the pandemic, all of us have already given a thought at how our behavior is, regarding our environment. During the last centuries, we have broken all boundaries in search of our own benefit. The human-centered design used to be seen as a responsible way of creating products and services, but is it really? What’s at risk when we design only focusing on ourselves and forget everything around us?

The next stage: taking a wider view

Human-centered design is useful but it has its limitations. Most of the time, people-centered industries harm the environment. They serve humans, build empathy with people based on their needs, desires and thoughts, but forget about the greater ecosystem that surrounds users.

Our next iteration after human-centered design will be one better fitted for the environment. At this stage, we’ll be taking into account all non-human factors that impact on other living beings or into the planet itself. Now design stops focusing only on humans to start filling the void that’s between us and the rest of the environment.

When we talk about environment-centered design, we are talking about the next Product or Service Development phase, one that shows thoughtful consideration with usability, ecology, and sustainability. It stops having people as the core, to embrace a broader target: living beings. What can we do to take design to this higher level? These are just some ideas:

Design for non-humans

  • Design for humans but also for non-humans, for every creature and specie, even when they are not participating in the buying process. The same way you design to anticipate human needs, in this case, you’ll have to do it for anticipating our planet needs. For example,
    • How can the product or service you’re developing help a non-human, let’s say an animal, a plant, or even a natural resource?
    • Which non-humans participants can you find involved or affected? Consider lakes and rivers, wildlife or trees as if they were stakeholders.
    • How can you design get closer to natural design, this means, an organic design inspired in nature?

Evaluate the impact

  • Do some research to evaluate the impact of your development on all environmental threats, to see how you can adapt your product to be less nocive. Your mindset should be wider, always considering:
    • Climate change
    • Biodiversity loss
    • Environmental pollution

Everything you can do, not only to avoid doing more harm but also to mitigate these three damages human has been provoking for centuries, will be setting you on an environment-centered design framework.

Choose the right tools

  • Evaluate the tools you’re using for development in the same way. Choose sustainable tools according to your beliefs:
    • How responsible are these tools with the environment?
    • Were they designed with a human focus or with a more holistic one?

Creating an environment-centered design framework

Environment-centered design is an Active Design. It activates behavioral change in individuals and organizations, promoting human care and respect for the environment. It’s time for you to co-create with others, to measure your carbon footprint, to set environment-centered resolutions for the time to come after this pandemic.

Your new environment-centered design framework will not only involve your product and its development, but also manufacturers, businesses, governments and people in general. Its last pursuit will be to produce a real change on everyone, it will be our ultimate framework to create value for everyone and everything, designing with consciousness and empathy with the world.

Paula Becchetti

Paula is the editor of intive’s blog. She holds a degree in Audiovisual Communication from Universidad Nacional de San Martín (UNSAM) and is a Content Manager specialized in blogs, web content, email marketing and social media. Her extensive experience in the software industry makes her very valuable when it comes to translate technical content into a colloquial language. According to her own words: “I connect with the world through technology, but also through everything that breathes, sport, music and my travels.”

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