Rauemi | Methodology

Culture Centred Design

For us, conventional design methodologies can be both colonising and exclusionary. Culture Centered Design (CCD) helps people and organisations to understand design through an indigenous lens.

Why we created Culture Centred Design

At IDIA we’re all about designing through an indigenous lens. As design strategists, researchers and practitioners, we find that global design methodologies, like Human-centred design, are colonising and homogenising. They don’t allow for cultural rights, perspectives, knowledge or ways of being. And they don’t help shift power back to those who need it.

Culture Centred Design supports indigenous peoples telling our own stories, building our own tools and ultimately creating a world and future that includes our world view. It’s not a tool for making design more accessible to indigenous peoples as this further creates a reliance on non-indigenous design and technology.

It’s also not intended to be a cookie-cutter design methodology where a specific indigenous culture (in this case Aotearoa Māori) is used to guide design globally. It is intended as an open, flexible and adaptable framework that centres a relevant culture – their people, knowledge and processes – in the design process in any domain.

How Culture Centred Design works

Culture Centered Design is framed around indigenous people, knowledge and ways of being in the world. It puts indigenous people at the front of the design process. It also ensures that design projects are measured by their impact – on people and culture, on our natural world, and on the future – rather than by design awards or other accolades. This approach is linked by 3 strands:

  • Tāngata (People) – indigenous people and more specifically indigenous designers should always be key participants in the design process. It is their right to lead the use of their knowledge and forms, and to be involved in the design of their futures. Non-indigenous designers need to understand their role as an ally and partner in design initiatives where indigenous context, knowledge or forms are core to the outcome, and to consider ways to avoid holding spaces where indigenous designers could be.
  • Mātauranga (Knowledge) – indigenous knowledge and knowing provides specific perspectives, context, and insight into how humans and nature respond and interact. As with any culture this knowledge isn’t static – it takes into account the past, present and future, and it evolves, adapts and grows with people, places and societies. Design informed by indigenous knowledge and ways of being will result in unique and differentiated designed outcomes and solutions.
  • Tikanga (Process & Practice) – the delivery of designed solutions through cultural processes, practices and principles ensures that indigenous ways of knowing, being and engaging are framed in ways that are relevant, appropriate and trusted by the indigenous people involved.