We research, educate, create, orchestrate and advocate for design that takes pleasure, beauty and connectedness seriously.
A vision founded on our friend and colleague Alexandra Drane’s compassionate and passionate mantra.
Having spent the majority of the past decade designing for healthcare and public health, we’ve been fortunate to participate in the shift from a sickness to wellness model, one that shifts the problem focus from discrete, local effects to the systemic root causes, The Determinants of Health.
So, in a wellness model, health happens in life and the measure of every design is its impact on health outcomes, (health of individual, population, and social and ecological systems that are the determinants of individual health). “Health is life” brings the health and wellness needs of individuals into new markets, products and experiences.
And as it expands the definition health, it expands the design context from “user in use-case” to “individual in life”—far more complex! No one is ever just a “user” and we all are always amazingly multi-dimensional, needy, vulnerable, complex and beautiful heroes in our own journeys. We Play Orbiters find that meaningful complexity in ourselves and design to serve that complexity in others. It’s really just being real!
We create extensive sets of research-based needs for physical, emotional, spiritual, cognitive individuals, and those needs give our design process clear direction and guardrails that bring multiple values to individuals and celebrate the full dimensions of individuals in life.
We practice deep design to tackle wicked problems and to widen the circle of empathy of narrowly framed design problems. Deep design brings the world into any problem so that the solution fits healthfully in the world.
Like deep ecology (from which it is adapted), the essence of deep design is to ask deeper questions from a systems perspective, and design with the understanding that “there are no side effects — only effects” (J. Sterman).
Deep Design solves for context, not target users. It does not separate humans, use cases and a design problem —or anything—from the world and life that determines a problem. We may design “things,” but our approach focuses on the relationships between things. It is how nature thinks—where meaning is derived from context so that solutions fit healthfully within the given context (i.e. an office, a patient room, an urban square).
It is an ecological approach wherein ecology involves the relationships within and between individuals, their cultures, social systems, natural world, and importantly, the design interventions we build and put into it.