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Decentralizing Power through Design with Sahibzada Mayed and Lauren Lin

Sahibzada Mayed and Lauren Lin will be speakers at the upcoming DesignOps Summit on October 2-4, 2023. Their talk, “Cultivating Design Ecologies of Care, Community, and Collaboration,” will showcase the intersection of care-centeredness and design operations. 

Lauren has wanted to be a designer since she was in third grade. What kind of designer? An “everything” designer! From a young age, she embraced the idea that “you can design anything” from fashion to environments to moods and feelings. Today she employs ethical research practices and co-design to shift power and amplify youth voices, design toys, and bring play into her work at Ideo Play Lab.

Mayed has a social service and social impact background. Through a community-oriented storytelling approach, they co-lead strategy and research at Cause and Affect, a relational design consultancy in Canada.  

Lauren and Mayed’s partnership began with conversations and exploration about what they could do to shift power dynamics and create more cohesive and engaging designs for all. The biggest hindrance, say Lauren and Mayed, is power hierarchies. Design leaders need to critically think about social identities, institutional positions, and other complexities and dimensions. How power shows up in our practices is always shifting and changing, and decentralizing power has to be an ongoing and emergent process.

And it all starts with ideas and conversations.  Mayed and Lauren have found that speculative design is a powerful way to reflect on the “now” and dream about what the future could look like. All real-world shifts begin with ideas, relationships, and conversations. These elements are at the heart of design. 

What you’ll learn from this episode:

  • About Lauren and Mayed’s backgrounds
  • How their partnership came about
  • About the talk titled “Cultivating Design Ecologies of Care, Community, and Collaboration” that they will deliver at October’s DesignOps Summit
  • About power hierarchies in design and what design leaders can do to help decentralize power
  • About the role and potential of speculative design


Quick Reference Guide

[0:00:19] Introduction of Sahibzada Mayed and Lauren Lin

[0:01:03] Mayed and Lauren’s backgrounds

[0:05:53] The working partnership between Mayed and Lauren

[0:08:45] Power hierarchies and design

[0:11:56] The DesignOps leader’s role

[0:15:26] Alternative means of engagement

[0:18:36] DesignOps Summit, October 2-6, 2023

[0:19:59] A care-centered approach to the future through establishing patterns

[0:24:37] Mayed and Lauren’s gifts for the audience


Resources and links from today’s episode:

Ideo Play Lab –

Cause + Affect –

Planet Justice Textbook from Slow Factory –

“The Mind-Body Check for Radical Research” Google doc –

DesignOps Assembly –