19 January 2007

We need macrodesigners, says Uday Dandavate

Be the first to share

Uday Dandavate
Uday Dandavate, principal of the participatory design agency Sonic Rim, and faculty member of the Danish 180º Academy, just wrote a thought-provoking post on the Anthrodesign Yahoo! Group arguing that it is important for designers to incorporate MacroDesign concepts and top-down thinking in their approach.

Many organisations, he says, would benefit from professionals specialising in using design and innovation as a macro level thinking process.

To open up the discussion on his ideas, I re-publish his post (which is already starting a debate) here:

If I follow the evolution of the field of design, I do believe that we have borrowed concepts and inspiration from a variety of fields including architecture, psychology, sociology and anthropology. In continuation of my earlier post on scaling design, I have been wandering around (intellectually) to search for new inspiration and concepts that would help me develop my ideas about taking design at a more strategic and mass scale. I think I have found some direction and want to share it with you, so that together, we can help define new directions, ideas, tools and language for what I now propose to call “MacroDesign”.

I am now going to borrow concepts from the field of economics. As you all know, the field of economics is broken down into two distinct areas of study: microeconomics and macroeconomics. The branch of economics that analyzes the market behavior of individual consumers and firms in an attempt to understand the decision-making process of firms and households is termed as Microeconomics. It is concerned with the interaction between individual buyers and sellers and the factors that influence the choices made by buyers and sellers. In particular, microeconomics focuses on patterns of supply and demand and the determination of price and output in individual markets (e.g. coffee industry). I propose that what we as designers have been engaged in for a long time is Microdesign. Macroeconomics, on the other hand, looks at the big picture (hence “macro”). It focuses on the national economy as a whole and provides a basic knowledge of how things work in the business world. For example, people who study this branch of economics would be able to interpret the latest Gross Domestic Product figures or explain why a 6% rate of unemployment is not necessarily a bad thing. Thus, for an overall perspective of how the entire economy works, you need to have an understanding of economics at both the micro and macro levels. “macroeconomics,” and saw it was a matter of scope and scale. Macroeconomics examines whole economic systems and how different sectors interact. This perspective considers issues of income, output and growth, inflation, and unemployment. National economic policies and complexities of industrial production come into play. (Investopedia 2006)

The bottom line is that microeconomics takes a bottoms-up approach to analyzing the economy while macroeconomics takes a top-down approach. Regardless, both micro- and macroeconomics provide fundamental tools for any finance professional and should be studied together in order to fully understand how companies operate and earn revenues and thus, how an entire economy is managed and sustained. (Investopedia 2006)

There is some learning for us and a great opportunity to take Design to a strategic level, if we study the evolution of these two types of economics. Design Education, in my view should incorporate MacroDesign concepts, especially at graduate level. I do believe that organizations that operate at higher levels such as governments (local and national), International development agencies (such as UNDP, WHO, UNESCO), international consortiums of global corporations and many such macro level organizations would benefit from professionals specializing in using design and innovation as a macro level thinking process. I am beginning to think that the body of knowledge within the design field is limited by our focus on bottoms up approach (which is critical), and has not been balanced by people dedicated to top-down thinking as well. It is time design students have the opportunity to pursue careers in MacroDesign and become evangelists for MicroDesigners.

Be the first to share
17 May 2015
Policy paper: Making Good our Future
Making Good our Future: Exploring the New Boundaries of Open & Social Innovation in Manufacturing Policy Paper prepared for the European Commission May 2015, 49 pages As part of the Social Innovation Europe initiative, the European Commission has …
13 May 2015
Social Media + Society, an open-access journal
Social Media + Society is an online, open-access, peer-reviewed scholarly journal deeply committed to advancing the understanding of social media and its impact on societies past, present and future. With a leading editorial team, the …
13 May 2015
We’re more than mere consumers, and business should remember that
Companies collect an ever-growing amount of information on customers, but forgetting the individuals behind big data is detrimental, not least to business, writes author and speaker John C. Havens. Today’s customers, empowered by mobile technologies and …
13 May 2015
Myth of globalization in consumer tech
In nearly every category Ben Bajarin (Principal Analyst, Creative Strategies) studies, he sees the regionalization of consumer tech, not its globalization. This view of the market is showing how regional technology players in many segments …
11 May 2015
Is technology making people less sociable?
A major social debate is going on on the effects of mobile technology and social media, online and off. The Wall Street Journal distills in a juxtaposition of the views of Larry Rosen and Keith …
6 May 2015
How cities can design for aging baby boomers (and benefit younger residents too)
When cities make an effort to accommodate “aging in place,” they typically end up with designs that benefit younger residents too. A new report called “Ageing in Cities,” from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development …
5 May 2015
Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록 in Design 4 Disaster
Design 4 Disaster features an engaging illustrated safety manual for ship passengers, a personal project by Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록. After the Korean ferry accident last year, Yuluck (who is Korean) wanted to …
5 May 2015
Why people don’t trust energy-saving gadgets
People’s reluctance to share data about their energy use is likely to stand in the way of “smart” technology designed to promote energy efficiency, experts say. A study, published online in Nature Climate Change, finds that …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

5 May 2015
Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록 in Design 4 Disaster

Design 4 Disaster features an engaging illustrated safety manual for ship passengers, a personal project by Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록. After the Korean ferry accident last year, Yuluck (who is Korean) wanted to find a way to make safety manuals more interesting to read. He spent one year designing an interactive safety guide […]

16 March 2015
Better Health and Wellbeing: Giving the elderly in Singapore sparkling golden years

Invitation: sharing session, Singapore, 30 March 2015   What are the hopes and fears of the elderly in Singapore? How can designers offer solutions that support the elderly in managing their health and wellness? What can healthcare professionals do to help them keep active? What role can technology play in the elderly’s daily lives? Design consultants […]

1 January 2015
Happy Playful New Year
21 December 2014
Experientia’s Twitter feed live

Experientia has now its own Twitter feed. Four months of Putting People First posts and other links have already been uploaded. If you followed Experientia on Twitter through the feed of its CEO, Mark Vanderbeeken, make sure to now also follow the company (but don’t unfollow Mark, who will keep on tweeting away). And while […]

19 December 2014
Putting People First blog redesigned

Experientia’s Putting People First blog has been redesigned. It is now entirely responsive, allows for easier browsing, searching, and filtering, and features larger images on the posts. The entire history of posts remains accessible as before. We are still tweaking things and welcome any feedback.

27 November 2014
Why the world needs anthropologists – an update

Why the world needs anthropologists – Coming out of the ivory tower Location: Padua, Italy, Centro Culturale Altinate/San Gaetano Date and time: Friday, 5 December 2014, 13:00 – 18:00 Padua, Italy, 5 December 2014 – The second edition of the international symposium of applied anthropologists attempts to erase the boundary between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ anthropology, […]

See all articles