Advocating for Human-Centered Design as a regional approach to improve economic, social, and civic life in our community.

Design Forward Alliance ignites conversation and action around how human-centered design (HCD) can improve the way we live, work and play, and provide businesses, educators and government with the tools to affect real and lasting change.

What is Human-Centered Design?

Human-Centered Design is a process, a framework, an approach. Widely defined, HCD includes everything from A to X: Architecture to Experience Design (XD).

Rather than designing for people, we design with people, letting users’ experiences drive decision-making (rather than internal processes) to provide a better experience.

A San Diego Movement

Initiated by the Design Lab at UC San Diego in 2016, the Design Forward Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes design-driven innovation in business, education, and government.

Our Mission

Create a unified effort that promotes the value of professional design and design thinking for better outcomes in business, education, government, and the San Diego community. The Design Forward Alliance identifies opportunities and makes connections to world-class design and designers.

Our Goals:

  • Promote design – Highlight the value of professional design and its ability to improve outcomes in business, education, and society.

  • Create community – Provide a place for design professionals to connect to create a united design community.

  • Advocate for San Diego – Promote the region as a design-driven innovation economy to attract talent, businesses, and resources.

The Design Forward Alliance creates value. 

Ultimately, we serve the people of San Diego as we use a people-centered approach to solve complex problems in business, education and in civic life.

  • Corporate & Nonprofit Executives
    Provide exposure to a wide array of San Diego companies, associations, and consultancies.

  • Community & Civic Leaders
    Increase jobs, opportunities and economic growth for the San Diego region through the promotion and adoption of human-centered design.

  • HR Directors & Recruiters
    Connect job providers with creative leaders and innovators.

  • Product Designers & Engineers
    Offer a platform to share new design principles, processes, and tools of design to solve complex problems.

  • Donors, Sponsors & Partners
    Establish and raise the profile of San Diego as a design-driven innovation community.

“It is not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and, yes, beauty to people’s lives.”
— Don Norman, UC San Diego Design Lab

A Brief History

  • 2016 (June) Design Forward Summit:
    Innovation Designed Here.

  • 2017 (March) Community Event: Speaking Their Language

  • 2017 (July) Community Event: Designing Fan Experiences

  • 2017 (September) Community Event: Design Forward: Base Camp (for Design Ambassadors)

  • 2017 (October) Design Forward Summit: Designing Tomorrow, Today.

  • 2017 Design 4 San Diego: Civic Design Challenge on Mobility

  • 2018 (May) Community Event: Membership Has Its Privileges

  • 2018 (September) Community Event (Produced w/ SDXD): Design + Enterprise