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Human Centered Design


“For in showing students new areas of engagement, we may set up alternative patterns of thinking about design problems. We may help them to develop the kind of social and moral responsibility that is needed in design.” - Victor Papanek, Design for the Real World.

Participatory mapping of gendered geographies as a way to reimaging masculinities; a project in collaboration with IT for Change.


Human-Centered Design (HCD), broadly, is an approach to solve problems while keeping the concerns of the humans at the center of it. The output of this approach could either be a product, a service, a system, or a space. HCD is increasingly being used to solve complex problems through the design of digital products, services, and systems. Digital technology is becoming the core of most, if not all, aspects of human experiences. Hence it is vital to not only shape digital technology in ways that benefit each and every human being, but also to critically inquire into the inherent assumptions and their limitations while following a human-centered design approach.

The M.Des in HCD at Srishti fosters an independent, self-critical, creative, and focused inquiry into human (and sometimes non-human) experiences with digital technology, both existing and emerging. This inquiry is driven by the activity of speculative and critical making with the digital material. The students will develop their own unique practice of human-centered design along the intersections of three paths. Namely,

  1. Locating the self at specific, socio-politically contested sites that embed Human Computer Interactions. By critically engaging with different theories and contexts, this path focuses on understanding, unpacking, and being responsive to the specific contexts within which human-centered design and use of digital tools and technologies is located.
  2. Moving Beyond Screens and towards exploring tangible, physical encounters with the digital material. This path focuses on exploring the possibilities and implications of designing digital technology as an integral part of the physical environment for human experiences.
  3. Moving Behind Screens, towards exploring opportunities and implications of designing for interacting with complex socio-technical infrastructures. This path focuses on exploring the design for screen-based interactions while digging deeper into the emerging complex technological infrastructure that is increasingly driving such interactions, namely big data, machine learning and advanced algorithms.

These paths are closely interlinked and intertwined. Each learner will have an opportunity to explore the intersections of the paths, and thereby begin to work on developing their own unique, individual practice. This is supported by opportunities to engage in transdisciplinary projects.

Core Values

Our curriculum and its experience are guided by core values that fosters the space for the development of an independent, critical and creative practice of shaping digital technology, its usage and discourses thereof. The values are:


Course Structure

  • Disciplinary Studies
  • Trans-disciplinary Projects
  • Theory and Understanding Units
  • Practice
  • Self-Directed Inquiry/Research
  • Knowledge Enhancement (Ability or Skills)

Exploring more-than-human futures with technology by imagining interventions for sustaining life of other species e.g. mosquitoes, ants and bees.

Learning Approach

Learning is driven by an inter- and trans-disciplinary engagement with theories, methodologies and concrete making. Learning happens through engaging and experiencing with complex settings of both design and usage. We engage with theories and frameworks in complex real-world situations to not only value the research and constructs created by others, but also question, reframe and reformulate them. As we engage with both the contexts of design and usage of technology, it is imperative that we do not bind learning to the physical space of a ‘studio’ or a ‘class’.

The studio is distributed; not only the learning activities are in the ‘real-world’, but also the notions of who is a learner and a teacher are distributed. Our knowledge is created in a collaborative manner, with a clear focus on building the capabilities of both the learners, and the communities we work with towards design and research. This implies that we actively seek to decolonize both ‘design’ and ‘research’, making them as the objects of collective inquiries, and not just apolitical means of solving problems. The learning approach encompasses engaging in and with the following aspects:

  • Hands-on and critical making.
  • Speculative creativity.
  • Philosophies and methods of human centered design of digital technology and their limitations.
  • Ethical perspectives and self-reflexivity.

Furthermore, the ‘core’ disciplinary learning is augmented by an intense engagement with transdisciplinary projects every semester. As a learner moves across disciplinary and trans-disciplinary learning and engagements in-situ, a process of independent practice emerges, forming the abilities to speculate, critically make, discern and align, as well as being ethically responsible.

Capability Sets

Upon successful completion of the course, graduates will have the capabilities to:

  1. Imagine: Construct concepts in an unhindered and unbounded manner
  2. Speculate: Take risks while being iterative in constructing plausible concepts even with limited information.
  3. Discern & Align: Take an informed stance after perceiving, questioning, and distinguishing between information from different sources and knowledge forms.
  4. See & Connect: Consciously unearth and combine diverse experiences and knowledge forms.
  5. Be Honest: Be aware of and transparent in articulating your position with respect to social, cultural, and political implications of digital technology.
  6. Make: Construct to bring about artifacts, things, and people into novel assemblages as critical vehicles of inquiry.

Food Futures, plural visions coevolved with communities through participatory methods, Capstone project by Sara Abraham, 208.


We set a platform to develop an individual practice, towards pushing the social, cultural, economic and political status quo about the role digital technology could and should play in our lives. We expect the learners to push organisations or build organizations from the ground up that are accountable and responsible for the things they design.

The above-mentioned capability sets could lead to opportunities such as:

  • Employment in design studios, R&D, product development teams in small and large corporations and start-ups focusing on novel, cutting-edge interaction and interactive product design.
  • Employment in start-ups, small and medium enterprises, NGOs & social enterprises focusing on both product design and service-system design.
  • Employment in Information Technology industry with a focus on user experience, user interface and experience design, and strategic service design.

Experimenting with Augmented Reality applications. Capstone project by Arathi Varghese in collaboration with Conduent Labs India, 2019.


For more information about this program, kindly email Naveen Bagalkot at

Collaborative exploration to subvert socio-cultural norms for fostering better Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights education, with Jatan Sansthan, Udaipur.

Disciplinary Intersections

The course is informed by the following learning disciplines:

Industrial Design – namely Product Design, Furniture Design & Services and Systems
Visual Communication Design
Anthropology, Sociology, Cognitive Psychology & Cultural Studies
Information Technology

Research and Collaboration

The students under this course will have the opportunity to work with the following centers and labs at Srishti.


View Eligibility for Admission, Fee Schedule, Application Form & Other information for this Program >>