I have always had quite a broad interest, which is why I have mostly been exploring different expertise areas during my studies. I am still trying to find out what I like doing most and what I excel at. However, I love learning new things and challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone. Within a team, I often take on the role of team leader and try to manage and keep track of the members and process. Taking on this more facilitating role within the design process combined with my lack of self-confidence overall makes it hard to feel like I can trust myself and make decisions on my own. By making a detailed planning, and sometimes asking for input from others, I have managed to not let this hold me back so far.
I have felt a bit misunderstood and felt like an outsider for most of my life. Crafting, inventing and building have always been a way for me to create happiness and purpose for myself. I loved building things with my dad or granddad, for instance, making cosy garden chairs, a wooden bike, an electric guitar or even remaking the Rietveld light (Rietveld, 1922). Even though that liking towards working hands-on is still present in me, I have also learned to enjoy more theoretical design.
If I had to describe myself I would say that I am an empathic and enthusiastic person. I love to listen to other people, try to get to know them, and really understand them. I also love bouncing ideas off others or discussing things. I need a certain level of social interaction in my life in order to feel alive. That being said I also struggle with social interaction sometimes. I need to feel comfortable within a group and get the reassurance that I can be my true self.
To me, the most important thing that design brings, are the opportunities to help people understand technology and help them accept it. The positive feedback and happy feelings that a design can bring into the world is what I strive for. In order to make sure that my design fits the users’ needs well, I like to include the users into the design process through co-design. By listening to the users, empathizing with them, make them feel heard, and giving them the opportunity to design with me, I really think that I can contribute to their lives.
If I would have to describe myself in one sentence, it would be: “ I am an empathic and enthusiastic designer, that would like to help people learn and accept technology in their lives through a user-centred design process”.
Rietveld, G. (1922). L40 Pendant Lamp.
We live in a world where technology is becoming more and more present in everyone’s lives every day. While some people learn and adapt quickly, this is more difficult for others. However, saying no to technology is not much of a possibility anymore. This can make them feel left out and even stupid or pushed against a wall. I feel that we should be helping these people learn, understand and accept technology, while that gap between those people and changes in society are still bridgeable.
I know what it is like to be misunderstood or feel left out, but I also know that everyone can learn and grow. If you just listen you can always find a suitable way that works for them. Instead of just putting a robot in an elderly care facility or expecting that pedagogical workers just learn about technology, my approach would be to first start empathizing with the users. Through really listening and looking beyond what was said, you can gain a lot of insights on what the users feel, want or need. By doing this you can much more easily identify what leads to that resistance and thus also more easily find a way to relieve those pressure points.
As I stated in my identity I think that the way to achieve this is by revolving the design process around the user. By creating a genuine interest in the user, empathizing with them, and even letting them design with you through co-creation, I think you can always find a way to help people learn, understand and accept change.
This newly found understanding and acceptance will hopefully lead to a more inclusive world, as more people can confidently go along with the changes within society. By creating more understanding in the world, I hope to create a more empathic and open-minded society, where people will dare to ask for help when they feel left out.