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Metamodern empathy and design

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The emotional intelligence of our existence can be understood, altered and designed to suit a better existence. The designer’s thinking of this approach leads to us developing a better life and existence for all humanity.

Empathy is lacking within our society. The sincerity and concern for our fellow man exists in the notion of impractical approaches and a distance of trying to connecting human to human. The greatest design and work comes from an outward reflection of inner empathy towards an individual, group or people or humanity in general. Empathy is the driving force behind our thought patterns and how we interact with the world.

Understanding your capacity for empathy and having self awareness about this is a vital part for growth as a designer. Without empathy, we cannot truly understand each other. We cannot design for problems across the human existence. Empathy, most notably, has been considered a weakness throughout history, but as we propel forward into the oscillating space of our existence between sincerity and irony, empathy will be the driving force to uncover and discover the truest forms of what matters – and as designers – it is our curiosity that will move us forward to find solutions for these challenges.

Empathy is a powerful untapped tool. Empathy is the opposing driving force from our early design ancestors and greatest design icons. In the modern and post-modern era, designers (even the greatest) are wildly known to have been driven by their own egos. Seen by society as the alternative or contemporary artist in their own right, designers created for the commentary of society in either commenting on the large and inspiring ideas, or deconstructing these ideals and creating ironic work that created controversy, commentary on the state of culture, commerce and society.

But today, this ego-driven approach to design is broken. The designers who still hold on to this ego will be left behind. The designers who outright choose to design for their own self gratification will be seen as a problem to society. Within metamodernism, there is an oscillation between the modern and post-modern : this struggle exists within the designer and the message and/or the process and execution : but the driving force behind all of this should be empathy. The sincerity to prompt society to look in the ironic mirror, only to have the others question themselves, not to be told by someone else (a designer) what they should question. This oscillating dance is a balancing act that can only exist through empathy.

The design and art community is infiltrated with ego. The ego is a poison to productivity, great ideas and collaboration. Ego can be quickly recognized by those who always seek to get credit, or those who subtly hint at their taste being better than the rest of society. These egos need to be destroyed. This is not post-modernism.

Discovering empathy within design isn’t directly related to the work, but a slow process within yourself as a designer and the awareness of how to interact with the world. The importance of empathy in the work is not just how it directly influences, but also how it is indirectly influenced. Sociological settings, human interactions, relationships with others, listening, awareness, vulnerability to explore/think/create with others are all areas in our lives that grow our empathy toward others, but also influence the work in positive ways.