DMatters June 2017 Issue

Designing Inclusivity & Wellbeing for Hong Kong

The Knowledge of Design Week (KODW) 2017 finished off with many innovative cases of inclusive design in various disciplines across public and private sectors. "Design for people and their wellbeing is beyond affordability and provision of welfare", says Prof Eric Yim, Chairman of HKDC.

Some of the audience asked: Good Design can improve life, yes - but what makes Good Design after all? If design helps to define problems, resolve them and create impact, where should I start now?

Living in technology-driven societies, how does design work for us, stay relevant and improve our lives? From the LIVING forum, speakers shared their hometown cases:

“Hospitals are where you’ll get the worst news of your life, but how can we design the moment for better memories?” asks Hansol Paeng of Human Understanding Design Center in Seoul. By showing empathy to their users, Make-a-thon is an exercise to seek citizens’ ideas on healthcare and the medical centres’ operation, study them for a period and turn them into concrete plans for improvement. One example is anti-snoring pillow.

Over a community in Austin, Texas, Stacey Chang of Design Institute for Health, University of Texas, and his team observed an overall economic segregation correlated to race, education, occupation, etc. They have deployed data visualisation to map out communal emotions and built a connected platform for residents to express their community and healthcare ideals.

Vincent Mo of Longevity Design House has considered “ageing at home” a serious matter. By redesigning their own homes rather than sending them to elderly homes, the project aims to harmonise the relationship between generations.

In the age of big data innovations, how do we make technology fit for purpose? In this regard, two speakers on CONNECTING forum elaborated.

“In healthcare, technology is the tool to ask the right questions. Let design (not tech) pivot an organisation towards the fundamental purpose.” - Dan Toon, McLaren Applied Technologies

“Design is problem-framing, so that we can answer the right question. Then we shall connect citizens and communities with design because ‘people ignore design that ignores people.’” - Chris McGinley, Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art

The true power of design for inclusivity goes beyond fulfilling a checklist approach on universal design. User experience matters. On the MOVING forum, speakers consistently shared that inclusive design is not just about moving from A to B, but is also about pleasure.

“Future of transportation is not fine car, but shared mobility. Freedom of moving is the first step in liberating the human spirit. Mobility service is more than just speed and cost. Experience matters.” - Jonah Houston, IDEO

Colour is the key to architecture and way-finding. From the characteristic colour-coded stations to latest designs in train compartment, MTR has evolved tremendously over the past 40 years to make our services more inclusive and user-friendly.” - Andrew Mead, MTR Corporation Limited.

“Future driverless vehicle could be even a bit slower and more comfortable like a café. Why not? Passengers want to have a more enjoyable experience regardless of how long the journey is.” - Rama Gheerawo, Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art.

With all the mind-blowing cases and discussions at KODW, we were led to wonder where are we are heading in the future. Through empathetic observation, understanding, and people-centred thinking, it’s not hard to get the answer. We’re responsible for our own health, our own life, our own future, as noted by speakers:

“We need more people to work longer. We shall have the choice of what we want to do, making technology accessible to elderly people as an example. Attitude and behaviour can change.” - Astrid Nøklebye Heiberg, Conservative Party of Norway

Citizens are smart. Smart citizens contribute better data that leads to smarter city.” - Rob Boynes, Citymapper

Design is a way of putting democracy into practice. The definition of design is making us ‘humble’, see from others’ perspective, listen, and use design to address issues.” - Sean Donahue, MDP+FIELD, ArtCenter College of Design

To tackle our challenges today and create the future, we need creative leaders putting people first and at centre, inviting new mind-sets to co-create new frontiers for inclusive societies. "Creative leadership demonstrates the THREE Essentials - Empathy, Clarity, and Creativity", says Rama. Leaders demonstrate empathy through active listening to the users and see new possibilities through better framing of the challenges and problem solving through human-centred design.

Dr Edmund Lee, Executive Director of HKDC emphasises that inclusive design is about design for people and with people, placing needs and wellbeing of citizen, people and users ahead of bureaucracy or administrative needs. Through inclusion and co-creation, design offers new mindset, competence, new possibilities and solutions for solving cities' biggest challenges.

Public can have a grasp of the essence of the speakers’ stories by the  on-site Graphic Recording  which translates the speakers’ ideas, expressions and complex information into large scale imageries of simple graphics, color and words.

HKDC aims to enlighten thinking, inspire new mindsets and ways of working for the betterment of our city, economy and societal wellbeing through design. Please stay tuned and see you at the coming Business of Design Week (BODW) 2017 – “ITALY MAKES A DIFFERENCE” on 4-9 December.

Click here for DMatters (June) full issue.