To practice inclusion, we need to let go of designer-centered design

  • Let’s start with respectful communication. The Art of Communicating by Thich Nath Hanh reads as a deliciously deep and direct opus on how our words are like food: they can nourish or poison. He grounds our purpose of engaging others in alleviating suffering. He takes us beyond empathy and humility (totally helpful mindsets to embody, but we can go further!), to how deep listening can be a transformative and liberating act.
  • Next, I think reading about designer’s personal learning journeys is both inspiring and healing. I love Tania Anaissie’s work and her practice, Beytna Design. I always assign this podcast (Designing for Justice) and her essay (A Design Thinker Reckons with Design Thinking) in the first few weeks of the design research and ethics classes I teach. I also love the Greater Good Blog for creating space for many studio members to share their personal journeys overcoming legacies of colonialism, white supremacy, and capitalism. (Greater Good’s co-founder, George Aye, wrote this very poignant piece Surviving IDEO on his own Medium.)
  • Tricia Wang is someone whose work I’ve admired for a decade and whom I use as a benchmark of criticality. I think her recent piece, The Most Popular Design Thinking Strategy is BS, is a very important and liberating read because it brings to light that without values like equity, justice, and healing, we can totally misappropriate human-centered design tools to reify existing power structures and create immeasurable harm.
  • Lastly, here is a treasure of tools, workshops, and books. Beyond Sticky Notes is a book and collection of resources by KA McKercher on co-design and models of care. Everything they share is beautiful, critical, and clear. I love all the unlearning work of Creative Reaction Lab and their Redesigners in Action series. I’ve taken How Design Thinking Protects White Supremacy and Introduction to Equity-Centered Design. I also love this talk by CRL’s founder, Antionette Carroll, on Design for No Harm and her conversation on the differences between equity and equality on What’s Wrong With podcast with my friend and collaborator, Pinar Guvenc of SOUR. At 3x3, where I lead community, our team offers a spectrum of community events and foundational workshops where we dig into topics of inclusive design like examining our biases, understanding positionality and reflexivity, and how to build trust that is earned and not transactional.

--

--

Mother, mixed-methods researcher, faculty at SVA’s MFA in Interaction Design, Head of Community at 3x3, New Yorker.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Adriana Valdez Young

Adriana Valdez Young

Mother, mixed-methods researcher, faculty at SVA’s MFA in Interaction Design, Head of Community at 3x3, New Yorker.