The Life-centred Designer Issue#4


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

Choose just one tool every newsletter and experiment with it for the following month, as an easy way of slowly expanding your design to be more life-centred.


This month's life-centred design mindset

Having just got back from teaching ecosystem mapping at NOVA School Of Business and Economics in Lisbon, I thought this should be this month's mindset:

"Own your ecosystem and give all life a voice" is a key mindset to shift from human-centred to life-centred—it makes us recognise the wider world impacts our product/business contributes to, directly and indirectly, and allows us to recognise the impacted lifeforms and include them in decision-making.

🌏 Own your ecosystem
Map the greater ecosystem that your product/business is part of and contributes to, such as where your product materials come from, what communities may be impacted by its production, what ends up in landfill, and any impacts from your digital channels.

🐝 Give all life a voice
Identify the lifeforms impacted by your ecosystem—people, animals, and environments—and create personas for them to include with user personas during design and decision-making, to ensure all the impacted life is represented and designed for.

Tools and methods to 'Own your ecosystem and give all life a voice'

🌏 Ecosystem mapping
The first life-centred ecosystem map I came across was Monika Sznel and Marta Lewan's Actant Mapping Canvas, and it's a great learning tool to start seeing your project as an ecosystem and thinking about its wider system impacts on other life. Get the Canvas

🐝 Non-human personas
I've talked about these and shared them many times, so the key things to know are:

  • Non-humans represent the animals and environments, and non-users represent the impacted humans and communities
  • When you've identified the non-humans and non-users your ecosystem impacted, you can make personas for them, or just the primary ones (the most impacted, the most important, etc.)
  • Creating personas through research connects you to these non-humans and non-users, and this is when your empathy form them is established and deepened
  • Using the personas is how your empathy is maintained and represented during design and business decision-making
  • Non-humans and non-users personas should be based on data, so be wary of stereotyping, bias, and humanising them

Explore non-human persona templates, examples, books, and courses

Life-centred design gems

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

📙 Visioneurship Handbook | NOVA SBE Innovation Ecosystem
The SBE Innovation Ecosystem is an innovation initiative at NOVA School of Business and Economics in Lisbon that brings corporates, students, and innovators together to breed new business models, products, and solutions. Inventing the word 'Visioneurship' to encapture their approach, they also produced this beautiful Visioneurship Handbook to download.

🎥 Biomimicry in action | Janine Benyus
This 2009 video about Biomimicry by Janine Benyus is legendary and a must-watch for anyone interested in learning from nature to design more sustainably.

What I've been up to—Teaching in Portugal and launching a new course!

🌳 Mapping the ecosystems of products and business in Lisbon, Portugal
I was honoured to be invited to Lisbon by the SBE Innovation Ecosystem at NOVA School to contribute to their goal of evolving, expanding, and activating innovation. I took 44 corporate and student participants through mapping the ecosystems of some common and luxury products to introduce a more life-centred approach to product design and business thinking.
See the visual story here.

⭐️ The new Life-centred Design Foundations Online Course - Starts 14 May 2024
It's been a busy month, but my most exciting news is the launch of the new Life-centred Design Foundations Online Course!

Through live/online design sessions, and supported by other enthusiastic creatives, you’ll redesign a product and business of your choice to be more sustainable, inclusive, and regenerative by learning and doing:
✅ Ecosystem mapping
✅ Circular, sustainable, and inclusive design
✅ Non-human/non-user personas
✅ Sustainable Development Goals
✅ Data-based metric setting

Course enrolments close 11 May... just days away!

See you at the next new moon.

Damien Lutz

Founder of Life-centred Design Lab

1-11 Hunter St, Sydney, NSW 2017
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