How to train your eye into being more human centered.

Covid-19 has shaped the way we experience the world and thus our leisure and work. Most countries have adopted drastic social distancing measurement in the effort to control the virus’s spread. Currently a small number of areas have been lucky enough to experience a partial break of those measurements thanks to warmer temperatures. Meantime remote & smart working are increasingly more common pushing everybody to seek for more livable environments to be called offices.

We are trying to enjoy summer even if the risk is still high. We are wearing masks and identify any sort of protection especially when in crowded places has become the norm.

But we aren’t here to talk one more time about Covid-19, we will come back on it later.

Un unconventional way of securing your bike.
Un unconventional way of securing your bike.

Indeed we want to introduce you to the concept of “Thoughtless Acts”.

Jane Fulton Suri defines in her book as “Thoughtless Acts” actions that we do without thinking to adapt, exploit, and react to things in our environment. Those actions underline unconscious behavior that are used to comply with a world not perfectly suited to our needs.

As designers we can apply our observation methodologies to capture those acts. Those become useful when shared to inspire everybody involved in our creative process, during present and even future projects. Seeking “Thoughtless Acts” pushes the observant to think beyond existing solutions and paradigms by focusing on the actions.

When you’re trying to avoid eating sand with your pizza.

When we are looking for those acts we need to ask questions such as :

How thoughtless are those actions?

What are the hidden/indirect human reasons behind those actions?

How might we as designers respond to those behavior?

Contrary to what it may sound till now “Thoughtless acts” aren’t spottable just by trained designers. Indeed, as humans we are by definition curious and to spot those actions helps train ourselves into being more human, and perhaps even object-centric. Of course lots of discipline and exercise is needed in order to do it right and systematically.

Be aware: It isn’t easy to give the right interpretation to those acts and speculate why this happened.

A restaurant’s window pattern used as guide.

Ready? Set, Go!

Let’s get back to the starting point: with Covid-19 impacting our lives.

  1. Try to observe measurements that people have unconsciously taken to protect themselves or others when outside.
  2. Analyze what is the real problem people have or are trying to solve
  3. Capture & Document, take a picture, draw it, write it down. (Do not miss this step!)
  4. Make it shareable, present it and discuss it with your team.

But, why should we constantly look for “Thoughtless Acts”?

To train our designer eye into having a more human focal point, while simultaneously “document everyday’s interactions as a contribution to design”. Spotting those acts stimulates your eye, it will shift your observational competence from being too product and solution based to be more behavioural and problem centric; as Bill Moggridge used to say “We are designing verbsnot nouns”.