Human-centred design has had it's day

Human Centred Design was coined in 1958 with the convergence of trends from engineering, art and psychology, and over more recent decades became popularised as ‘design thinking’. HCD takes a humanist perspective in assuming that humans are autonomous, conscious, intentional.

So, why has it had it’s day? Because we’re beginning to understand the negative consequences that worldview has created. Humanism, individualism and human centred designed place the human as separate from nature, and make action and interaction a point-in-time event with linear consequences only occurring for the person being designed for. Push that button, buy that thing, you’ll feel better for it.

Posthumanism critiques this perspective and says that the systems around us have far more influence and control over us than we realise or would like to admit. Systems-shifting design is an emerging practice that is aligned with posthuman perspectives and that places greater emphasis on understanding and designing for the systems we interact with.

Rather than seeing design as being about driving a user to perform an action, it can be about shaping relationships and interactions with everything in the system. Rather than designing the solution for an isolated individual end-user, systems-shifting designers will look for points to intervene in systems and create alternative spaces where solutions can emerge.