5 things I learned from...designing with people in mind

Nicole Sara Sivens
June 11, 2018
10 min read
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Lawrence Abrahamson is a licensed architect and designer. He is passionate about taking a systems-based approach to strategic planning and service design. He has worked with a major American pharmacy chain to develop a toolkit that delivers consistent patient experiences and with a major American financial institution to improve the mortgage and home buying experience.

Lawrence loves to be surprised and delighted by the sheer creativity and ingenuity of the human race – designer and non-designer, local or global. Our societal appetite to constantly improve our lot is an endless stream of inspiration. He is a graduate of the IIT Institute of Design and Syracuse University’s School of Architecture.

Lawrence Abrahamson, IDEO
Lawrence Abrahamson, IDEO

With design, the little things make the difference

Think about someone’s apartment interior, maybe they live in a smaller space like a NY studio. By paying attention to certain elements you’ll create a space that still allows them to invite their friends over. That’s life-changing.

Some things can’t be counted

There’s an emotional component to sustainable design that can be hard to quantify and therefore easy to overlook – you’re measuring the immeasurable. It’s similar to offering coffee to employees: everyone likes it and it boosts morale. However, when resources are strapped, it can look like an easy way to cut down on expenses, but you have to think about the drop in productivity. We need to find ways to quantify sustainable design beyond a budget line item.

The secret is the people

Really good urban planning needs to address community and sustainability from the very beginning. My hope for newly developed places like Singapore and Dubai, that have the ability to build anything they want, is that sustainability and community would come first, and not be an afterthought.

Thinking differently about housing could be key

One of the keys to sustainability is enabling urban density in creative ways. Think about splitting larger homes into smaller homes. One solution is chopping up the McMansions built during the housing boom into smaller, multi-family residences.

The answer might be the last thing you’d think of

In New York, moving toward a more sustainable city likely starts with trains that run on time. When people move freely and predictably through the city, it makes urban density possible. So it’s just as sustainable to think about improving our MTA as worrying about water runoff and greenery in the streets.

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