As more people rely on accessing services online the role of UX design has become increasingly important in our digitized world. Transformation is happening in every industry, from agriculture to government. Technology is prevalent across all aspects of our daily lives. Take the way we shop as an example. More and more people now use digital apps to shop for everything from electronics to ‘what they will eat’ for dinner tonight.

At its core, the experience of shopping online is somewhat consistent. Users use an application to browse and select their products, enter their credit card information, and receive their purchases shortly thereafter at their doorstep. This neat and tidy experience is a result of a series of decisions that designers and engineers make to create a medium of exchange that originates in the virtual world and materializes in the consumer’s hands. …

At Design Centered Co. we are thrilled to announce our partnership with a first of its kind fund in Canada dedicated to helping social enterprises scale up and significantly expand the scope and reach of their social impact. The Procurement and Investment Readiness Fund (PIRF) is a grant fund in Ontario that will support social enterprises to assess their procurement and investment readiness, and to access the services and capacity building supports necessary to successfully compete for procurement and investment opportunities.

Impact Centered Design (ICD) is a framework for designing solutions that focus on consciously creating impact. The process requires designers to research and establish impact objectives at the front-end of the creative process. The term “designer” here applies to anyone who is involved in the creation of tangible or intangible objects, products, processes, strategy, services, and experiences.

Leading with an Impact Statement designers are guided through different stages of the framework to explore ideas, test hypothesis, and strategically develop solutions keeping in context the specific environment, purpose and mission, stakeholders, capacity, and other operational processes. …

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Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of St. James, follows an ancient Roman trade route dating back to over a 1,000 years. Camino Francés, the Saint-Jean to Santiago route, is dotted with sites dating as far back as 1 million years. Though it is known as a pilgrimage route for Christians the Camino is a window to cultures and traditions that have existed in Iberia for thousands of years. …

As I sip my espresso in Zadar, a 3,000 year old town on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, I reflect on the year just passed — 2014. Based in Romania the main focus of the year was learning to balance personal interests and parenting. While my compass always pointed towards my baby daughter, the year came with several exciting opportunities, especially to travel.

On January 2 we moved to Sibiu, one of the most beautiful cities in the very center of Romania. I had visited Sibiu early on my travels after in 2012. It was then I thought that the city would be a great live. Fast forward two years and an unexpected job provided the opportunity to explore the thought. Sibiu is an old medieval town surrounded by Carpathian Mountains. It feels like a place from childhood fairy tales. The people of Transylvania are unlike the reputation shadowed upon them by the story of Dracula. Instead they are warm and welcoming. …

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Paltinis, Romania

The day we decided to move to Sibiu we were happy with the idea of being closer to nature. During our first weekend we had to chose between arranging our home and going and explore the forest, Dumbrava, which starts near the city center. For us it was an easy choice. Right after breakfast we packed some food and diapers, of course, and dressed our baby in warm clothing. We put on a big smile as we made our way to the forest. We followed the same routine the following week. It was not long until we wanted to explore further. We had heard about a place called Paltinis, about 45 minutes outside of Sibiu, up in the mountains. A daily bus service from the city provides easy access to this area. …

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City of Belgrade, Serbia

It took us three hours to drive from Timisoara, Romania, to Serbia’s capital city — Belgrade. Once war-torn, this city has transformed itself to rival major tourists destinations like Paris, Rome, and Madrid. The top 3 differences between a western European city and Belgrade are:

  1. You get a lot more for your money’s worth in Belgrade;
  2. It’s less crowded with tourists (and fewer tourist traps); and
  3. The locals are really friendly and welcoming.

Belgrade was nothing like I had imagined it to be. My mind had conjured up images I had seen on television during the 1990’s — bombs falling from the sky, smoke and destruction everywhere. I expected to see the aftermath of a war-zone. But no, Belgrade is beautiful! The city and its inhabitants have shelved the the past and moved on. …

Manora feels like an island community lost at sea. Manora Island is at the tip of a 12km sandspit connected to mainland Pakistan. Along with neighbouring islands, Manora forms a protective barrier between the city of Karachi to the north and the Arabian Sea in the south. It’s strategic location has been known to great civilizations far back in time. Alexander the Great is said to have launched his fleet for Babylonia after his campaign in the Indus Valley was from Morontobara, Manora’s ancient name. In 1554 the island was visited by the Ottoman admiral Seydi Ali Reis and mentioned it in his book Mirat ul Memalik,which was considered one of the earliest travel books in Turkish literature. In the 18th century a fort was constructed on the island when the port of Karachi traded with Oman and Bahrain. …

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Frere Hall, Karachi

I am in Karachi, Pakistan, one of the 5 most populated cities in the world. What was meant to be a short visit here turned into a landmark stop on the journey of living-being. I came here originally to attend a wedding. Now I am married to a girl I met traveling earlier on this journey. My volunteer experiences in Africa and Europe as well as exhaustion from constant travel has created a need to get involved deeper within a community. This has given birth to The Lotus Project — an initiative to empower youth and strengthen communities.

Pakistan is usually the go to destination for travelers to visit or work these days due to its political instability and apparent security issues. Many international NGO’s have put projects on hold whilst many development workers have left the country due to genuine concerns. One must have a good sense of humour to consider there would be thriving tourism industry here. Expats and foreigners aside, many locals talk of leaving for “better” opportunities elsewhere. …

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Urooj and Maria a day before arriving in Santiago.
Photo credits: Sanghyup Kim (a.k.a Stevie).

Seven months ago I embarked upon a journey to follow a calling from within. I packed up my life in backpack and a few boxes, and left to explore the world. I was excited about the unknown and what was to come from there. Ready to live every experience I felt a freedom I have never felt before.

Following my gut I made my way through the Atlantic provinces of Canada and eventually to the other side of the ocean. Every step seemed like a fresh start. From the foot of the Pyrenees in France, I started walking, meeting incredible people, and opening up to the world. My days on the Camino to Santiago were some of the most treasured moments of my life. I felt, both, an unrest and source of peace within. I wanted to continue on this path, to find ways to serve, and be among those also seeking something deeper in life. …


Urooj Qureshi

Pro Adventurer and Founder of Design Centered Co., I think of myself as an activist explorer and creator of ideas.

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