The design byte - 001 // SAT. 20 JUNE. 2020

Why did I refuse to guide a signage design project for a zoo?

The answer is simple because animals are not interested in seeing us,
we are. 

Imagine someone always staring at you, as you go about your daily business, whether you are having your food, taking a bath or simply relaxing. It’s a complete invasion of your privacy, right? Animals in the sanctuaries are subjected to such scrutiny all the time, the conditions are worse in a zoo. We, humans, are curious about how animals live their lives, but do animals want our interference? What if this human interference could be kept to a minimum?

Once a student came to me for a way-showing (signage) project for the zoo. I flatly refused. The idea of a zoo does not make sense to me. It is so human-centred. The student asked, by this logic, we can never do signage for the zoo?

I said if you change the point of view, things will be different. Cage yourselves, not them. We are interested in seeing them, they are not. 
Imagine it as an underground pathway with openings at specific locations. These locations are the spots where animals are most likely to be seen as they roam freely above the ground. Such an underground pathway may require digital signages to locate the presence of animals. Right now, I am not discussing the details of implementation but have an open mind to understand the approach. Changing the point of view to see the problem, can change the way you frame the problem. Problem framing is the key to design thinking. 

Build empathy.
Hide from animals.
Do not invade their space.
Illustrations: Vajra Pancharia - Alumnus IDC School of Design, IIT Bombay