The Life-centred Designer Issue#1


Welcome to your monthly inspiration of tools, tips, and resources to start life-centring your design practice.

Each issue is timed with the New Moon, symbolizing fresh starts and new opportunities:

🧠 A new life-centred design mindset

✏️ Tools and methods to apply the mindset

πŸ“š A few good things to read or watch

πŸ“£ Updates about what I've been doing
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Choose just one tool every New Moon and experiment with it for the following month, as an easy, no-pressure way of slowly expanding your design to be more life-centred.

Welcome to our first issue!

Our first issue starts with three ways to expand your human-centred approach to be more life-centred.

But first, did you know that the word 'stakeholder' comes from colonial times when colonists invaded indigenous land and drove 'stakes' into the ground to mark out a piece of land they could then 'hold'?

To respect all peoples, I try to use the word 'actant' in place of 'stakeholder'. It can be confusing in some situations, though, when you can't give contextβ€”use your best judgment.

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3 ways to expand human-centred design

🌏 Map your ecosystem

Map the greater ecosystem that your project affects, such as where your product materials come from, what communities may be impacted by its production, if it ends up in landfill, and what the impacts are of the digital tech industry that supports your digital channels

🐹 Expand your key actant groups

Expand the key actant groups you consider, from 'business' and 'user', to also consider the needs of the people, animals, and environments impacted by your designβ€”sounds overwhelming, but you can start by focusing on the most impacted ones.
​Explore non-human personas.

πŸ’š Expand the value you create

Expanding from creating just profit and a great experience for target users, find ways to give back and regenerate the natural and human resources your project uses, create a great experience that is inclusive and diverse, and be transparent about your activities and who you partner with.
​Check out the framework.

To get started...

To get started expanding your human-centred design approach, apply these questions to every project:

πŸ€” How can I reduce the negative outputs of this project (carbon, waste, unused data, etc.)?

πŸ€” How can I reduce how much this project takes from the world (energy, data, materials, etc.)?

πŸ€” How can I increase the value this project creates (value to users, supply chain workers, front-line staff, ecosystems, related conservation and restoration efforts, etc.)?

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This month's life-centred design mindset

Trees use solar power, are resource efficient, adapt and evolve to changing conditions, are locally attuned, provide waste that is reusable as food, and provide benefits to many (food, shelter, soil stability, etc.), while also being a part of a global forest and vegetation system that cycle air, stabilise soil, and assist in the global water cycle.

So let's Design solutions to be more like trees.

βœ”οΈ Powered by sustainable renewable energy

βœ”οΈ Use only what is needed

βœ”οΈ Adaptable

βœ”οΈ Locally attuned and globally aligned

βœ”οΈ Nurturing diversity

βœ”οΈ Benefiting many

βœ”οΈ Producing only reusable waste

Tools and methods to 'design more like trees'

Let's focus on one 'tree-power' that we can design forβ€”'Benefitting many'.

To benefit many humans, think about how anyone with or without any ability, can 'access information, navigate, and communicate'.

πŸ‘©πŸΎβ€πŸ’» Ensure digital accessibility by making basic accessibility decisions about page structure, fonts, image descriptions, etc, and checking your work with browser plug-ins and Figma plug-ins, such as this A11y contrast checker plug-in for Figma, and test with screen reader simulators like NVDA (Windows) or VoiceOver (Apple)

🏒 Ensure industrial accessibility by designing seamless journeys for all types of mobility, adding tactile and brail features to products and locations, making sure necessary information and signage are easily found and read, and displaying subtitles on any video screens.

To also benefit non-humans:

🌿 Switch to green hosting for our digital channels to reduce carbon

πŸ›Ÿ Donate to or partner with initiatives supporting those impacted by the digital industry, such as device recyclers like Mobile Muster (in Australia) to reduce e-waste

πŸ’πŸ½β€β™‚οΈ Enable user/citizen engagement by providing information, QR codes, and links to support, donate, or get involved with the initiatives

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Life-centred design reads

Books and articles to expand your skills, knowledge, and planetary connection.

πŸ“• Design.Think. Make.Break.Repeatβ€”Martin Tomitsch and others provide 80 methods to innovate with micro-level strategies, system thinking, and life-centred design

πŸ“— Sustainable Web Designβ€”Tom Greenwood offers a practical path to faster, more carbon-efficient websites that are not only better for the planet, but better for our users.

πŸ“˜ What A Plant Knowsβ€”Daniel Chamovitz takes you on a fascinating journey into how plants sense the world

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What I've been up to

🌳 47 Trees planted this month (Now a total of 100 trees planted)​
In partnership with futurescouting.com.au, lifecentred.design donates to onetreeplanted.org for tree planting to regenerate the trees cut down to make our books.

πŸŽ™ Sustainable UX (SUX) Podcast​
I was honoured to be interviewed last year by the inspiring SUX team who drive a life-centred approach to UX, which they call 'Sustainable UX'. We got to talk about some really interesting things like tipping points for positive change, global goals that allow for growth and degrowth, and choosing between green growth and degrowth. Listen to the podcast here​

πŸŽ₯ Climate change adaptation video​
I've added a video to the lifecentred.design Member Dashboard, a recording of my presentation about life-centred design and climate change adaptation, at AdaptNSW forum 2023, and you can watch it here (Jump to 1:07:33)β€” I was so nervous!

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That's a wrap!

Until next month, don't forget to check out:

Keep learning and having fun :)

Damien Lutz

Founder of Lifecentred.design and futurecouting.com.au​

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1-11 Hunter St, Sydney, NSW 2017
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