Human Centred Design for Cities & Services — A quick introduction

Jaan Orvet
2 min readJul 26, 2019

Cities run on design.

Done right, cities thrive and support us human beings.

Getting it right means understanding the context in which a city exists. This starts with understanding the people who are its inhabitants. Getting a feel for all their daily rituals, done knowingly or cheerily or even sleepily on auto-pilot, helps us understand the human scale of a place.

These insights, by extension, help us understand the underlying needs and desires that a city or a service must satisfy.

In case of the former, the insights guide us when choosing between unlocking and breathing new life in to forgotten spaces and buildings given to use by previous generations, or when creating something entirely new. For the latter, the insights inform business strategy. By understanding these true needs, we are able to make a strong case for the right decision.

Lush. Accessible. Inviting. Holland Village in Singapore. Yet even the good can become better.

Using this straight forward approach on complex challenges, i.e. cities and services (whether the service is delivered through a device or for us to physically interact with), makes the challenges manageable and the opportunities actionable.

My most successful collaborations with progressive cities and brands across Europe, North America and Asia have had one thing in common. They were fuelled by a deep understanding of the contexts in which what we built would be relevant to people, to us, humans.

In other words, they knew that understanding cities through people mattered.

Seefeld, Zürich. People, life, trams, commerce, bikes, shade, clean air and easy access to lake Zürichsee.

How would you help your city support its residents even better ? Get in touch to share your thoughts and start a dialogue on what the next step should be.



Jaan Orvet

Partner, Global Strategic Design Director at Manyone. Co-host of podcasts 'design, Design, DESIGN, design!' and 'Dauer & Orvet'. Opinions my own.