Design principles are a set of considerations that form the basis of any good product, whether the product in question is a service, an experience, physical or digital. I find design principles as a great way to articulate and instill design philosophy. In my 15-year career I have practiced multiple dimensions of design — from designing soft goods, teaching and spatial design to design/ ux research and service design. And each of these roles has helped shape my design philosophy. The following design principles are an articulation of my design philosophy—and how I do my work today.

Design for people with people: Design is built on intangible factors such as dreams and inspiration. When design is used to create social impact, it needs to grow from within the community it serves. Design should never overpower its purpose or the people who use it. It needs to not only be solving problems for them it needs to imagine and build solutions with them.

Design requires curiosity and empathy: Empathy and exploration are the conduit to good design and a critical skill for good designers. One that requires a sense of curiosity to understand people, cultures, perspectives, ideas and thinking. There is no empathy without curiosity. If empathy is about suspending judgment in order to discover untold stories, curiosity is about asking questions, and seeking beyond what is visible. Curiosity is fundamental for creating novel solutions.

Design is a mindset not a process: Design is a way of thinking, doing and facilitating. It is a non-linear way of looking at the problem and an iterative way of arriving at the solution. A way where learning and thinking comes with doing. This design way requires abductive reasoning and thinking, that shifts the process and tools with context of the design, the designer and the people who encounter it.

Design is a craft of imagination: The practice of design is about having the vision to see what could be better. It is less about fixing what’s broken, and more about finding opportunities of improvement. Design is driven by opportunity — of presenting alternative, reimagining the present, and imagining futures.

Design invokes emotions: Design has the power to engage people on an emotional level. Whether it is delight or awe, an action or a behavior, good design moves people. It can come in different forms for different people. It goes beyond fixing problems and smoothening the interactions. It’s about the invisible details, that at times might be intangible or hard to articulate in lay terms.

Design is an act of collaboration: Good design, innovative design needs collaboration with a multitude of experts. Sometime collaboration is mistaken with group think or design by committee — it’s neither. It’s a designer’s ability to work across the spectrum with designers and non-designers, and with those who have different opinions, perspectives and lived experiences. The push and pull in collaboration with a diverse set of individuals and experts challenges assumptions — making collaboration fundamental to innovation.

Have you thought of your design philosophy?

Multidisciplinary designer // Social Impact Designer: www.projectpluralist.com | www.hinashahid.com