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Industrial Design

Human-centered design ... but even more human.

November 15, 2017

Now more than ever, society is hungry for simplicity and human connection.

With the speed of life, ubiquitous computing and technology, and the ability to carry a world of data in our pockets, it often feels as though we are rafts being whipped around in a storm, just trying to stay afloat.

There’s a scene in the movie “Hunger Games” when a bomb goes off near Katniss Everdeen and she can no longer hear the forest, her competitors or the shuffling of her own clothes. But she can hear her breath and the ringing in her ears and see things in the foreground of her vision. Her awareness was limited due to the conditions. Similarly, Liz Gilbert in “Eat, Pray, Love” prepares herself a meal in Italy and can see and hear the nuance of the asparagus she is preparing and the eggs she is boiling — every detail of the preparation is amplified and clear. It’s like she had super-senses for the things she was paying close attention to and the background fell away by choice.

Not unlike these film depictions, our own situations limit our awareness and perceptions. Then our priorities direct how we choose to act. Our perceptions are based on a limited data set of the full situation because we are human. One day, we may see a subset of the full situation while the next day we perceive a completely different subset of that situation. It could be because we woke up on the other side of the bed, had more coffee than usual or got a tough phone call.

Contrast Katniss to Bella in “Twilight.” When she becomes a vampire,she can simultaneously see the specs of dust in the atmosphere, hear the trees rustling outside, see the color of the room in its full vibrancy and hear the conversation nearby. For the first time, she can see and hear everything that is actually going on — and is simultaneously inspired and overwhelmed. A good metaphor for reality and our lives. It reminds us of our limitations as human beings.

What we can perceive at any given moment is most often limited by our conditions and humanity. Other times, we simply don’t slow down enough to notice or practice our ability to broaden our awareness every day.

Take a breath. Slow down. Design better.

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