putting people first

by experientia
by experientia
27 April 2006

Uday Dandavate on striking a balance

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putting people first
by experientia

Uday Dandavate
Through Core77, I learned about the thinking of Uday Dandavate, a principal of the participatory design agency Sonic Rim.

Dandavate, who is trained as an industrial designer and is from Indian origin, is a thorough believer in the duty of every designer, every manager and every leader to reach out to everyday people so that they have a real opportunity to participate productively in whatever matters to them, carefully framed within a broader concept of sustainability and human dignity.

He speaks, I think, clearly and deeply about some of the ethical and philosophical reasons why many of us, including we here at Experientia, do what we do. It is therefore my pleasure to write about him here.

During the IDSA Western District conference, Dandavate presented a talk entitled “The Scam Called Experience Design.” As reported by Stephanie Munson in Core77, Dandavate said: “We can’t hope to design experiences for people; rather, what we can (and should) do is co-create with the people for whom we are designing. In order to do so, we need to be empathisers, and in order to become empathisers we need to visit people’s homes and their imaginations. Designers should be looking for inspiration not in the slick design magazines (although we all love them), but in the real world and the world of imagination. Only by understanding deeply what experiences people dream of and aspire to can we then hope to innovate the tools they will use to get there.”

In the article “Striking a balance” (which he allowed me to post directly on this blog), he explores the idea of sustainability in design and innovation more deeply. “The imperative,” he says, “is to redefine the innovation process and align it with the skills and energies of the vast majority of people who are being forced to the sidelines.”. He speaks about the responsibility of companies to “gain empathy for the needs of ordinary people who will ultimately live with their inventions” and to engage in people-centred innovation. But he also stresses the responsibility of the consumer: “Every individual needs to take responsibility as a consumer for supporting an economy which creates work and an opportunity to live life with dignity for people of every skill level.”

Download article (pdf, 88 kb, 3 pages)

In the article Designs with Thought, published in The Hindu, India’s national newspaper, he speaks more about the Indian context. “Any innovation should have a relevance to society,” he says. “It is very important for designers here to enlarge their vision globally, but work in accordance with specific local needs and conditions.”

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