From Human-Centered to Life-Centered Design
As designers, whether we’re creating packaging, products, or places, we usually think first of human purpose and pleasure. Nature’s elegance inspires us with beautiful forms, folds, spirals, patterns, shapes, layers, materials and colors—immeasurably enriching human imagination. But three current opportunities in design prompt us to also seek guidance from nature: environmental impact, complex systems, and new technologies for making.
We have been taking a broad look at how the explosion in biological knowledge can be informative for design in regards to these three different opportunities. In this sense we tend to talk about ‘nature’ as encompassing all living organisms on earth, their interactions, behaviors, systems, and incredible diversity. We are excited about how looking to nature can change not only what we create but also the way we think, and the way we make.
Jane Fulton Suri
Partner & Chief Creative Officer
Jane Fulton Suri is a Partner and Chief Creative Officer at IDEO. As such, she’s responsible for evolving excellence in content and craft, human insight, and design thinking in service of clients worldwide.
Jane came to IDEO with a background in psychology and architecture and the ambition to bring social science-based perspectives to our design practice. Working on diverse challenges for clients in multiple industries, she pioneered human-centered approaches and fostered a collaborative community of kindred spirits, including designers, anthropologists, and other social scientists. She evolved techniques for empathic observation and experience prototyping that are now employed widely in the design and innovation of products, services, and environments, as well as systems, organizations, and strategies. Jane went on to colead IDEO’s global Consumer Experience practice. Based in Boston, she now focuses on the creative direction of the company.
To increase the accessibility of human-centered tools, Jane coauthored and published IDEO’s Method Cards. She also created Thoughtless Acts? Observations on Intuitive Design (Chronicle Books, 2005), a collection of snapshots that depict the subtle and creative ways in which people interact with the world. Jane believes that everyone is creative and resourceful at heart — and can earn great rewards by tapping into that capacity. As designers face increasingly complex and systemic challenges, she has begun to look beyond human behavior to explore how patterns in nature and living systems may inform and inspire more elegant and sustainable solutions.
Jane is a popular public speaker: she addresses design and business audiences, and she lectures at the California College of the Arts, Stanford University, and the University of California, Berkeley, and other schools internationally. Her work has won design and research awards, including Industrial Designers Society of America and Industries, Form Europe. She holds several patents for design innovations.
Designer & Biologist
Timothy R. McGee is a biologist and designer at IDEO Boston where he dovetails his experience in biomimicry and design with a penchant for materials, systems thinking, and biochemistry.
At IDEO, Tim is contributing to a wide range of industries from healthcare to new venture start ups, helping refine project insights and experiences to find the connections between human centered and life centered design practice. A hypothesis of which is that by keeping a human centered focus while allowing broader ecological and biological insights we can create designs that better resemble the attributes of life itself; including adaptability, resilience, and the ability to evolve through time.
Prior to joining IDEO, Tim spent 5 years at Biomimicry 3.8 conducting design research projects for global and local clients. His experience at Biomimicry 3.8 included creating new service offerings, managing projects, facilitating workshops, teaching professional courses and directing the materials and products area of focus for the consultancy.
Tim holds a BA in Biology from Colby College, and a MS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California Santa Barbara. When not in the studio Tim is often with his family hunting the woods for edible mushrooms, getting confused with too many camera lenses, or dipping his toes in the ocean.