Anna Kirah (NO)

Design Anthropologist & Psychologist

Talk: F*ck design thinking

On stage:

This talk is a series of reflections from a design anthropological perspective about the future of design and UX. Anna’s job has been to unveil truths for organisations: making the known unknown and making the unknown known. The answer to what transforms organisations lies in the premise that no one discipline is best and that no one discipline alone will solve the challenges we are facing.

What if our tools and attitudes within UX and design actually cause the problem? How might we truly combine our skills to create meaningful, relevant and sustainable solutions for people (and all living things) as well as our planet?

Anna has little faith in crossdisciplinary work based on experience and far more faith in transdisciplinary work. When collaborating in a transdisciplinary setting, miracles can and do happen: we transcend our own methods, models and processes, and find ourselves in new realms and in new directions. We transform what work is and what work can be, we transform what our solutions can be.


Anna Kirah was headhunted as the first-ever anthropologist to join Microsoft back in 1999, at that time a company with over 70,000 employees. She took the role of Chief Design Anthropologist for Windows, MSN, Windows Live, mobile services, embedded software solutions, and digital media.

She was responsible for the development and implementation of “Real people, real data”, a global initiative built on ethnographic methods which brought user involvement to the forefront of technology design and development.

“Real People Real Data” was the first people-centered design effort where services and products were actually made together with the end-users who Kirah emphatically calls people. Since this time, service design, design thinking, and design anthropology have exploded as useful methods and tools in designing for change.

“Fuck design thinking, move to transdisciplinary thinking. Fuck your ego, be equal thinkers in a transdisciplinary world.” – Anna Kirah at Service design days in Barcelona 2021.

Today Anna Kirah runs her own consulting company in Norway and is a specialist at a Design Bureau that focuses on systems-oriented transformations in both the private and public sectors. She has led service design projects and taught service design at Oslo Metropolitan University. She advises on projects and involves herself in projects when the need arises.