Take a closer look at who is benefiting from design.

We invited Kevin Shane, SXSW Speaker, UX Researcher, UI Designer, and Co-founder of noodle research consultancy, to understand “Current trajectory of design that will lead us to a better world.”


Kevin Shane

Who did we interview?

Kevin Shane is a co-founder of noodle research consultancy. Kevin was a speaker at the 2023 SXSW Festival where he shared his experiences at the intersection of design and public health to address gaps in healthcare coverage that prevent the realization of reproductive autonomy for all people. Kevin has worked across the world both in corporate consulting and the design for social impact space, championing a human-centered approach to empowering people to be changemakers in their own communities and lives.

Let us quickly get to our expert's point of view.

Let us quickly get to our expert's point of view.

  • Ques 1 : What is design for you?

    Ans : For men, design can refer to many different things. However, at its core, it is the process of creating something with a specific purpose or function in mind; it is the act of taking an abstract idea and making it a tangible reality, involving everything from physical objects to digital interfaces that range from the very simple to the extremely complex. Everything and every experience that we interact with on a daily basis was designed by something or someone; design is the framework through which all aspects of our lived realities are developed.

  • Ques 2 : What is your process of working on your designs?

    Ans : My initial introduction to design was rooted in human-centered design principles and practises, and it remains the foundation through which I approach all design-related work. My wife and I started our own design research consultancy called noodle where we have adapted the traditional design thinking process to deliver impact and drive innovation for our clients.

    Phase 1: Framing This phase is focused on understanding the challenge at hand. This involves working with clients or other individuals and organizations to identify the drivers that help this challenge persist, as well as the stakeholders impacted by it. We achieve this through interviews and workshops with the client team, as well as a review of pertinent documentation involving the identified challenge. This allows a clear articulation of the challenge as well as the development of a clear plan of action for addressing it.

    Phase 2: Empathizing This is the initial fieldwork phase, where we engage with stakeholders in their context(s) to develop a keen understanding of their daily lives and routines. Through in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, shadowing, workshops, and other primary research activities, this phase provides a window into the habits, activities, interests, constraints, and drivers of behaviours of those most directly affected by and connected to the challenge. This allows for an empathic understanding of the existing challenges and potential opportunities.

    Phase 3: Translating Learnings and outputs from the field research activities are consolidated and synthesized in order to begin ideating potential solutions to the identified challenges in this phase. After presenting the insights gleaned from research engagements, we work with our clients to ideate and co-create potential solutions. We then identify the most salient solutions to prototype for further investigation through field testing. This allows for an understanding of the challenge and its drivers, but more importantly, it answers the "so, what?" of research findings by translating them into actionable solutions.

    Phase 4: Testing Now that we have collaborated in understanding the challenge and developing potential solutions, we re-engage with the key stakeholders from the field research phase to evaluate the effectiveness of the co-created solutions. Utilizing in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, ideation sessions, and workshops, we learn directly from the stakeholders where our solutions are effective, as well as where there are opportunities for improvement to make them even more impactful.

    Phase 5: Determining This phase of the process involves taking a call with our client team as to the best path for the prototyped solution: is it ready to pilot, does it require further refinement, or do we need to revisit the translation process and develop new solutions to test? Whatever the conclusion, these decisions are arrived at through focus group discussions and workshop activities. This allows us to ensure that we move forward with the best solution possible, identified through collaborative engagements.

    It is important to note that while this is presented in a linear fashion, our design process is not simply going from point A to point Z. Rather, it is truly a process: sometimes we will repeat phases to ensure nothing was missed as well as to maintain stakeholder engagement and buy-in for the work. It is also critically important to keep in mind that the more one is able to repeat this process, the more they can ensure that what they are designing meets the interests and needs of the people who will most benefit from it.

  • Ques 3 : What do you do to find your flow state? Your rhythm?

    Ans : Now this is the billion dollar question! Finding one’s rhythm or flow is as incredibly personal as it is challenging, particularly with respect to the busyness of our everyday lives and the profusion of technologies and other distractions vying for our attention. My wife and partner, Anna Lawton, and I have spent a great deal of time discussing and researching this and find that the best way for us to get into our flow states is the combination of exercise and mindfulness. We strive to start each day with vigorous exercise (e.g., running, hiking, kayaking, yoga, boxing) followed by meditation sessions in spaces with as little sensory stimulation as possible. The exercise helps to wake up our bodies, work through any stress and anxiety we may be feeling, and provide us with a sense of accomplishment to start the day. Meditation helps keep us present while also developing a sense of wonder and gratitude. It is also fairly common for us to resort to one or both of these throughout the day whenever we lose that sense of flow and need to recapture the magic a bit.

  • Ques 4 : How do you balance imagination and intellect in your work?

    Ans : I think the two really go hand-in-hand, and you need to give them each equal weight and attention. I lean quite heavily on Time Blocking in order to ensure that there is space each day for all the activities I need to do in order to feel like I’m working towards being the best version of myself. (For those unfamiliar with time blocking, it is a time management method where you divide your day into blocks of time, each block dedicated to accomplishing a specific task, or group of tasks, and only those specific tasks.) I build in blocks of time each day for the activities I know will be personally and professionally beneficial to me (e.g., reading, painting and drawing, exercising, writing, cooking) to ensure they are prioritized while simultaneously helping to reduce time spent on unhelpful activities (e.g., binging another show on Netflix, social media). This is a great overarching strategy to segment your day and build a sense of muscle memory for certain activities at specific times of the day.

  • Ques 5 : How much value does feedback hold for you?

    Ans : Ugh, unfortunately, I am one of those people who puts far too much weight in negative feedback and far too little weight in anything positive I may hear about my work. Though this is a little unhealthy, it helps me to remember that there is always room for growth and improvement and that the journey is critical and not just the destination. I am always open to hearing feedback, but I could definitely improve how I feel about anything positive. What I strive to do in an effort to embody this is to reduce the feedback loops in my life so that I can learn, adapt, and grow faster and more effectively.

  • Ques 6 : What are your sources of inspiration in the outer world (not online)?

    Ans : I’ve long been enamoured with biomimicry, or adapting lessons from nature to inspire designing processes, systems, or products for people. As such, I get a lot of inspiration from the forests, lakes, and rivers near where I live in Durham, NC (USA). I’m fortunate to live adjacent to the Duke Forest in Durham and spend a great deal of time within it running, hiking, walking our dog Atticus, sketching, filming, and taking pictures. I also try to practise walking meditations within the forest, nature gazing, and observing how plants and animals in the forest behave and interact. Nature-centered design, or nature-centricity, is a field of research that I find fascinating and aspire to be more inclusive of in my design work. With all of the challenges related to sustainability and climate change impacting the world today, it is imperative that we seek more harmonious ways of coexisting with our natural environments and, in fact, lean on them to help direct our efforts at being more equitable partners with our planet.

  • Ques 7 : What do you see as the future of design in your field? What's going to come up?

    Ans : This is a phenomenal question, and one that I spend a lot of time thinking about and discussing with other designers and researchers. There are so many seismic changes happening in so many aspects of our lives each and every day, that it is really challenging to predict what the future may have in store for us, but, generally speaking, I think that the following will all feature more prominently in the lives of designers (and the world at large!):

    1.Integration of AI and Machine Learning: With advancements in AI and machine learning, designers will be able to integrate these technologies into their workflows to automate repetitive tasks, generate new ideas, and gain insights into user behavior.

    2. Focus on Sustainability: As climate change and sustainability become more pressing issues, designers will need to focus more on creating products and systems that are environmentally friendly and sustainable. This can and should lead to the development of new materials, innovative manufacturing processes, and sustainable design practices.

    3. Virtual and Augmented Reality: The use of virtual and augmented reality technologies in design will become more prevalent, enabling designers to create immersive and interactive experiences that can be experienced by users in real-time, and across borders and contexts.

    4. Minimalism and Simplicity: As consumers become more conscious of the impact of their consumption on the environment, there will be a shift towards minimalism and simplicity in design. Designers will focus on creating products that are functional, durable, and aesthetically pleasing, while minimizing waste and reducing their environmental footprint.

    5. Design for Inclusivity: With a growing awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusivity, designers will focus on creating products and systems that are accessible and inclusive to all users, regardless of their age, gender, or abilities.

    6. Thinking and Acting Locally: As the COVID-19 pandemic really reinforced for all of us, a global economy comes with some significant challenges if and when our standard approach to life is no longer possible. Designers will need to prioritize local solutions to challenges as well as develop capacity within local communities and populations to meet their needs in meaningful ways. This should also be an absolute mandate in areas like the development sector, where external solutions often fail to align with local preferences and interests.

    Overall, the future of design is likely to be shaped by technological advancements, sustainability concerns, and a growing focus on inclusivity and user experience.

  • Ques 8 : What inspires you?

    Ans :Today’s youth really inspire me. I remember those halcyon days of idealistic fervour before decades of life in the corporate world dulled my edges to the point of conformity, and I really applaud the efforts of young people throughout the world today who practise what they preach and take action as changemakers. Their ability and adeptness at harnessing the power of new and emerging technologies to organize and battle against injustices across the world is incredible, and it definitely motivates me to see the forest for the trees a bit and keep in perspective the truly important things in life: health, community, inclusivity, and love.

  • Ques 9 : What advice do you have for the design community?

    Ans : As design encompasses all aspects of life, there’s a lot to consider and keep in mind when thinking about being the best designer you can be. One of the biggest initial challenges is deciding what area of design you want to focus your career on. Once you have done that, there are some general guidelines that designers of all ages and disciplines can benefit from:

    1. Keep Learning: Design is an ever-evolving field, so it's essential to keep learning and expanding your knowledge. Attend workshops, conferences, and online courses to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. Even (or, in fact, especially) if you think you have mastered a skill or subject, always strive to learn more about it and keep your knowledge rooted in today’s experience.

    2. Prioritize User Experience: The user should always be at the centre of your design process. Consider their needs, preferences, and behaviours when designing products, services, or systems. This will undoubtedly mean that you will have to abandon ideas you think are the correct answer, but it is incredibly important to keep in mind that the user or beneficiary of a product, service, or system will know more about their interests and needs than you will.

    3. Embrace Collaboration: Collaboration with other designers, developers, and stakeholders can lead to better outcomes. Embrace different perspectives and work together to create effective solutions.

    4. Experiment and Iterate: Don't be afraid to experiment with new ideas and concepts. Iterate on your designs based on feedback and user testing to create the best possible outcome. Failure is a good thing: it means you are learning!

    5. Stay Ethical: As a designer, you have a responsibility to create products and systems that are ethical and do not harm users or society. Consider the impact of your design decisions, and act with integrity and transparency.

    6. Practice Empathy:Empathy is a crucial skill in design. Try to understand and empathize with your users' perspectives, needs, and feelings. It can lead to more effective and human-centered designs.

    7. Stay Flexible: Design projects can change rapidly, so it's essential to stay flexible and adaptable. Be willing to pivot or change direction when needed, and stay open to new ideas and possibilities.

    Overall, the design community can benefit from continuously learning, prioritizing user experience, collaborating, experimenting, staying ethical, practising empathy, and staying flexible. Embrace being both a teacher and a student in every aspect of your life. And be curious! Never stop peeking around corners and marveling at what you find.

Aman Maan

Senior Consultant

Schedule a consultation

Leave your details so we can contact you back.

    Related Influencer Insights


    Soo Yun Kim

    Good Design is needed for better future

    The future of design is likely to be shaped by a number of technological and cultural trends. Design trends will showcase...",


    Michael Noel

    2023 and Beyond: The Future of Blockchain

    Blockchain is the Future. starting from Crypto-enthusiasts...

    Artificial Intelligence

    Animesh Sinha

    Future of AI in 2023

    Artificial intelligence is shaping the future of humanity across nearly every industry. Let’s understand how AI will change the world