We research, educate, create, orchestrate and advocate for design that takes pleasure, beauty and connectedness seriously.
A vision founded on our friend, colleague and amazingly loving human 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 truly meaningful 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 needs for physical, emotional, spiritual, cognitive individuals. Those needs give our design process clear direction and guardrails to create design interventions that have greater value for individuals and celebrate the experience of being.
Like deep ecology (from which it is adapted), the essence of deep design is to ask deeper questions from a systems perspective, with an understanding that “there are no side effects — only effects” (J. Sterman).
We practice deep design to address complex problems and to widen the circle of empathy of narrowly framed design problems. Deep design brings the world into any problem so that what we design, hopefully, fits healthfully in the world.
Deep Design solves for context, not target users. It does not separate humans, use case or a design problem from the world and life that determines a problem. We may design “things,” but our approach focuses on the relationships between things. The system (or ecology) we hope to consider includes the relationships within and between individuals, their cultures, social systems, natural world, and importantly, the design interventions we build and put into it.