This is part two of a two-part introduction to design thinking. Part one is available here.
Design thinking is a method for creative problem-solving that has been around for decades. While design thinking is primarily thought of as a methodology for designing products, it is now used in a diverse array of fields and sectors. It is being used to change the experience of voting, transform the emergency room, reimagine the way we vacation and more!
As design thinking is utilized to solve big-problems and ultimately redesign systems, if it is to produce equitable solutions, then the process of design thinking itself must be examined closely to mitigate the causes of inequity. Design thinking as a field often refuses to acknowledge power imbalance or the exclusive nature of many design processes. Design thinking cannot create equitable outcomes on its own (Equity Design Collaborative, 2016).
That is where equity design comes in.
What is Equity Design?
Equity Design Collaborative, a group of individuals and organizations committed to cultivating the field of equity design, defines equity design as a creative process to dismantle systems of oppression and (re)design towards liberation and healing by centering the power of communities historically impacted by the oppressive systems being (re)designed.
In other words – “If racism and inequity are products of design, they can be redesigned,” said Dr. Christine Ortiz, founder of Equity Meets Design.
Equity design combines the consciousness of equity work with the power of design thinking methodologies. In the equity by design framework, there are three core beliefs; Historical context matters (learning to see), radical inclusion (be seen) and process as product (foresee). These core beliefs lead equity designers to a set of five principles: