The closing keynote was given by the very excellent Pattie Moore. Instead of slides plus audio (which really don't capture the experience of being in the audience), Pattie has given us this article about her philosophy, plus the video below from a previous conference.
A User’s Experience
It was both an honor and great pleasure for me to deliver the Closing Keynote for UXAustralia 2016. The nature of my presentations makes sharing the experience difficult, so I prepared this summation with the hope that it provides opportunities for us to deliver on the mandate of Design Inclusivity for the Lifespan with the dignity and enthusiasm every individual deserves and requires.
My life and thereby, my career have been formed and framed by the marvels of the relationships I have had with so many wonderful mentors, both family and friends. Key among those relationships were Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, who predicted:
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read & write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
The ever amazing and enthusiastic Victor Papanek, whose Design for the Real World, serves to remind us of the importance of creating balance with people and the planet:
“Design must be an innovative, highly creative, cross-disciplinary tool responsive to every person’s needs. It must be more research-oriented. We must stop defiling the earth with poorly-designed objects & structures.”
Legendary Raymond Loewy gave me the incredible gift of a blank canvas on which I was able to define the role of Empathy in Design and reminded us of the critical nature of our work in his auto-biography Never Live Well Enough Alone:
“Good design keeps the user happy, the manufacturer in the black and the aesthete unoffended.”
But, perhaps the most essential learning to promote the philosophy I hold most dear came from time reading with my beloved Grandfather and the brutal recognition that we must all face the challenges of cruelty, disparity and hate that co-exist in our world with kindness, equity and love. The most profound experience I recall from my earliest years came with my introduction to the still inspiring John Griffin and his research to expose racial inequality in Black Like Me:
“There is only one Universal “We”, one human family united by the capacity to feel compassion and to demand equal justice for all.”
Creating for our comfort, providing for our existence, responding to the daily challenges that impact our lives is a matter of design. The places and things that make up our individual realms are the results of someone’s daring, thinking, and action. Throughout history, designers have been those people who challenge the norm, rise to the occasion, and seize the opportunity to make a difference for all lives. It is a noble pursuit, the course of the designer.
Just as the Designers of yesterday questioned the accepted, the Designers of today must re-define what is known. Today’s answers must support tomorrow’s questions. There has never been a more exciting or vital time for the presence of design. And, the need for “humanism” in design has never been more crucial to our future.
By focusing our talents on the needs of each individual as equal, designers have given birth to a new order: “Humanity by Design”. This philosophic challenge doesn’t simply ask “Why?”, but rather, “Why not?”. We don’t speak of limitations. We focus on possibilities. We are fueled by questioning, “What if?”.
The emergence of “Universality” in Design supports the conviction that where there is a “deficit”, we will present a solution of “Design Inclusivity”.
Where there is ignorance, we will strive for enlightenment.
Where there is a roadblock, we will create a pathway.
No longer can we speak of the “dis-abled”. Our charter is to enhance a person’s abilities, with the recognition that we are all of us, “differently-abled” and that design and designers, are the “enablers”.
Gone is the time when we focus on the variable of numeric age as a limitation to a response. Our “elders”, not the “elderly” require the impact of good design in their lives, as do people ofall ages. From birth to death, it is the lifespan that is the domain of the designer.
As long as chronic health conditions, the effects of disease, aging, or injury create consumers who might use wheels to “walk”, eyes to “hear”, fingers to “see”, there will always be a place for specific need products and environmental compensations.
But these requirements are best considered within the context of a research and development process that embraces a multi-disciplinary collaboration of resources and talent, so that even the so-called special situations become commonplace and ordinary.
Unless and until we change out attitudes and perceptions of the “norm”, we will continue to create safe passage for some and roadblocks for others. As consumers negotiate the hazards of everyday life, they should be able to view designers as the pathfinders in the physical realm. Design is the ultimate prosthetic; designers, the veritable enablers.
Ours is an exciting mandate: beyond the confines of the aesthetic, we have the capacity to fashion the quality of life itself. Design is no longer a mere variable for determining the course of the future; it is the very means of our survival.
For me, the most shocking and troubling revelation in The Time Machine, written in 1895 by H G Wells, was a future of apathy. Equally compelling was his message for us all today:
“Face this world. Learn its ways, watch it, be careful of too hasty guesses at its meaning. In the end you will find clues to it all.”
When asked in a recent interview what we humans need do to survive, Stephen Hawkings answered:
“Empathy is the quality we must magnify.”
I believe that each of us enters this life surrounded by the promise of positive expectations. How our lives unfold is determined by the complexity of the variables with which we are born and with which we encounter. While we might not be able to change or modify all of the things that present challenges in our realm, we are always capable of embracing an agenda of caring and sharing. My Grandfather’s often spoke this encouragement in moments when I needed to be reminded about what is most essential for us all. I leave you with his words as my gift to you and all that can and will be because of the promise of tomorrow:
Don’t just look, see
Don’t just hear, listen
Don’t just touch, feel
Don’t just talk, try to say something
And remember always,
You weren’t put here just to exist,
You are here to make a difference.
1895 – 1986
Until we meet again,
Patricia Moore PhD
MooreDesign Associates USA