Evolution of design pushes on.
The next phase could well be the emergence of compassionate design.
Over the years, one could argue that the essence and core of design has remained largely the same — it’s just that we place emphasis on different things. For example, when I started my career in design 30 years ago, ergonomic design was the thing. Designers went out of their way to go ‘human scale’ in their work.
With the first waves of digitalization in the late 90’s, there was a shift from human to machine, so to speak, as interface design was suddenly everywhere. Designers were fascinated with forging those digital links, clumsily at first, but learning more as they plowed on.
Service design has been a champion of user experience
In the beginning of 2000’s, the new watchword in the design community was service design. Nimble enough to be applied to both the physical and the digital world, the term quickly gained traction. Embracing a holistic worldview, the service design approach has been found to be useful in all kinds of problem-solving. Lately, as we live more and more of our lives online, service design has been a champion of user experience, as well.
What we need now is a plunge into Big Emotion.
Design has certainly come a long way. Starting out with biology and the human body, we have since ventured deep into the study of human behavior. At the same time, we have tapped into Big Data to make better products and services. What we need now is a plunge into Big Emotion.
When I look at the reigning design trends of the last three decades — ergonomy, interface and service design — I see a common thread of empathy. In all of these approaches, there is the drive to go beyond the rational and connect with the emotional. Over the years, that drive has only strengthened.
Age of Empathy
Presently, we occupy a place in time where the Age of Empathy could, conceivably, take hold. While previous trends have focused on the mind, compassionate design focuses on the heart and soul. Helping us connect with each other and the world around us, compassionate design can assist us in looking inwards, too, and connect with our core beliefs and values.