Whole in One: Designing for Empathy in Complex Systems

Helena Sustar, Tuuli Mattelmäki


This paper investigates the role of empathy and the use of service design tools in the context of (governmental) systems and organisational services. The discourse focuses on three areas: intercultural empathy, the empathising process and empathic design tools. The paper first reviews what empathy is and how it has been discussed in design. Secondly, a practical example of a complex design context is presented, an interactive platform for governmental immigration services. To best acknowledge the perspective of one, i.e. an individual in the whole, this example proposes that a combination of different design tools can systematically be applied, to foster perspective changes and to facilitate in zooming in and out from the individual to systemic levels.

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