Together: The Essential Fusion of Culture and Design

Mobile First? In reality, it’s *humans* first. We cannot preach outwardly about empathy for those we’re designing for (re: human beings) if as designers, researchers, architects, developers (and on and on) we’re not supporting each other. The notion of being "people first" has an innate synergy between design process (and ultimate product) and office culture (and empathetic interactions). To the benefit of both dynamics, those touch points are identifiable and exploitable.

For example, culturally, the Swedish concept of fika transcends a mere “coffee break.” The value is slowing down – the act of pausing with intent during a typical day – and making time to have a dialogue with someone (though a good cup of coffee is certainly a vital part). In office culture and team-specific dynamics, this type of time has the same value. People need time to decompress and recalibrate, and cultivate a dynamic of team-based empathy. It must be a known quantity within a team’s creative culture, as well as protected and actively utilized. It’s about the human connection.

In a design process, the concept of slowing down (pausing with intent) has equal value. Instead of getting a product manager’s Powerpoint wireframe in your inbox with a request to “make it look nice,” or being in receipt of a client request to crank out a design for their approval by end of day, we must slow down to understand the people who will be interacting with our design (and the design’s potential impact on others, the environment and community in which it will be utilized, and so on). Rushing to get something done to tick an account manager’s “client appeasement box” at the expense of the human experience is to sacrifice empathy, quality, and any prospect of innovation. And this is just one touch point.

A “people-first mindset” means humans are at the center of everything in a business: empathy and compassion guide our hand across personnel, process, and product. Creating with compassion in an environment fueled by compassion means we never lose sight of what it’s all about: people and the environment in which they exist. Beyond functioning in this manner because “it’s the right thing to do,” quality of work, loyalty internally (team) and externally (users), and product innovation are all benefits to reap.

Join Justin as he demonstrates how putting humans and their environment first – in our design process *and* in the workplace – yields a successful end product and an endless fountain of inspiration. Across quality of work, quality of culture, and quality of life, the result is nothing short of product and industry transformation.


This event is presented in partnership between AIGA and IXDA Cincinnati.

IxDA Cincinnati is for professionals interested in sharing ideas in interaction design, user experience and digital design, to share their knowledge and new techniques across the Cincinnati community.

AIGA Cincinnati hosts networking events, enables professional development, and facilitates discussions about issues facing our profession. Our board of volunteers constantly strives to find new ways to serve our diverse local community while staying true to the values of the national organization.

About the Speaker

Justin is a multi-faceted, multi-pierced, multi-tattooed designer, author, and speaker. He wrote the celebrated book Creative Culture, speaks internationally on culture and design, and is the Vice President of Human-Centered Design and Development at bswift. With Josef Müller-Brockmann and user advocacy claiming equal parts of his creative heart since graduating from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he’s immersed himself in tangible and digital media over the past 20 years.

When & Where
Wed, Apr 21, 2021 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM EDT