Human-Centred Design at the Heart of the Home
What is Human-Centred Design? Last week, two architects, a behavioural data analyst and a kitchen design specialist came together to find out.
As part of Melbourne Design Week, Cantilever co-founder Travis Dean joined a panel of spatial experts to examine how design can respond authentically to the needs of the individual. His thoughts were a reflection of the intimate detail present across Cantilever’s range of kitchen systems, with each element built to precise dimensions by a team of skilled craftspeople at their Brunswick East showroom headquarters.
Joining Travis was Liam Wallis, founder of HIP V. HYPE; Samantha Simpson, data analyst for People and Culture consulting at Schiavello, and Martin Heide, senior associate at NH Architecture. Each presented their own professional insights for a thought-provoking conversation moderated by Indesignlive editor Aleesha Callahan.
With experience in public space design, Martin Heide approached the topic from more of a birds’ eye view.
“When you talk about human-centred design in a kitchen, you’re designing for a specific person. Whereas at NH Architecture, we’re designing train stations, or an arts centre,” Martin said. “When there’s a lot of people coming through a space, you’re not really designing for someone, you’re designing for anyone.”
Martin discussed the danger that excessively idiot-proofing processes in the name of human-centred design may lead to a type of intellectual complacency - we no longer need to remember our many passwords, for example. “It almost sedates you, at some point. Whereas human-centred design has the potential to challenge or surprise people.”
For Samantha, any discussion on human-centred design is viewed through a rigorously data-driven lens.
“In the work that we do, human-centred design is about co-creating the workspace with the client,” she explained. “All the employees get a say, and we are then able to identify ways in which the workspace could be a positive contributor to the three dimensions of wellbeing - not just the physical, but also the social and mental.”
From Liam’s perspective as a sustainability expert, human-centred design is an all-encompassing concept, arising from the way we interact within space.
“It’s about people, life, living, diversity, accessibility and democracy,” said Liam, adding, “I think that the smarter tech we have access to brings in some really interesting aspects to the project creation stage, to be able to explore the physicality and behavioural patterns of the human being.”
Liam is also a staunch advocate for collaboration, mentioning his work creating kitchens with Cantilever. “I really value Travis’ manufacturing knowledge, and also his ability to respond to direct feedback from end users,” said Liam.
Melbourne Design Week is an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV
Dealing in bespoke kitchens, the Cantilever approach offered a more micro scale take on human-centred philosophy.
“Data collection looks a bit different in our line of work, it’s not so formal a process,” explained Travis. “But effectively, our kitchen systems are built from data we collect from each one of our clients, tailored in response to variable site conditions. From the very initial catch-up, we’re really trying to unveil people’s habits, so our method by nature is very human-centred, and what we learn from each project always feeds into our products. Our systems evolve through conversations around that data.”
Dealing daily with both his clients and the craftspeople who fabricate their kitchens has given Travis a uniquely informed outlook on the practical application of human-centred design. At Cantilever, the focus is not placed on flashy features, or the latest interior trends, but rather the people within the space - creating kitchens with fluid functionality and enduring appeal.
This event is presented by Collectivity Talks as part of Melbourne Design Week 2019, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV which hosts 200+ talks, exhibitions, tours and workshops across Melbourne exploring how design can shape the future.
Images: Marie-Luise Skibbe
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