We designed this ‘now’ we are in, this volatile moment hinging on how well we handle the pandemic and climate change.
We just didn’t design it fully conscious.
But something is going on in the collective designer mind as this ‘now’ wavers in its direction between alternate futures.
There’s a bigger, deeper, more collaborative and experimental thinking merging frameworks and practices. Our well-intended human-centred design — which is really just limited to the target human user — is expanding to be more inclusive, life-centred, and future-thinking.
Here are four champions of design and designers becoming more conscious of their impacts.
To manage complex projects, designers have to employ a type of Minority Report mental mode — holding multiple streams of input from users and stakeholders high in their consciousness to ensure they’re all considered fairly and as required.
But how do we stay centred around an awareness of our own values, biases, and assumptions at the same time? And how—as designers for a world under constant stress from consumerism—do we incorporate more futures thinking into fast, profit-driven projects that often force us to forget or sacrifice our personal values and holistic considerations?
The Futures Pixel is a kind of mindfulness…
By now, no one needs to quote facts or expert verbatim to argue that great changes are happening to both human and earth systems. And how we talk about those systems as though they are separate betrays the reason for these breakdowns — large parts of humanity have, for hundreds of years, considered themselves separate from, and unaccountable to, the planet they rely on.
While we hyper-cerebral primates deluded with narcissism have also done and continue to do many things of great empathy, resilience, and love, we are losing those of us with the wisdom to maintain our connection to…
Speculative design took form in the early 1990s as designers questioned their role in consumerism’s impact on the planet. They began to consider how to align design with core values.
With interest in designing for the future on the increase, this is an exciting time for designers. But with the time-travelling hype of designing future artefacts, there is a danger the practice’s foundation of values could be forgotten.
If we ignore our values, we may design ourselves into a future that opposes them. …
After months of trawling the web for speculative design tools and methods during the early pandemic lockdown of 2020, I struggled to find a simplified, detailed, end-to-end speculative design method that was as succinct as the double-diamond framework for innovation.
There were complete methods, for sure, (and more coming through since—see 13:10 on Phil Balagtas’ Speculative Design, Strategic Foresight & Futurism video), but they were either locked behind costly courses or bloated with academic language that weighed on my brain like textbooks.
Why couldn’t saving the future be fun?
Imagine you’re standing in your living room alone and you put on your Hololens. You raise your hand, and an AR menu hovers above it — you interact with the menu with just a finger and start a meeting. A virtual table stand appears in front of you, and avatars of participants stand around it. You welcome them, then tap on your menu again to load a 3D model of your new product onto the table. Taking turns, you and the others move, resize, and edit the models using just your fingers. …
As designers and product creators, we are not just producing items with a lifecycle defined by human use. We are releasing into the world something that impacts multiple ecosystems spanning the time and distance of the product’s entire lifecycle, from the sourcing of its various materials to the manufacturing, repair, life of use, and final breakdown.
The evolution of life-centred design (also known as ‘environment-centred design’ and ‘planet-centred design’) has begun to expand our mindset from purely human-centred creation to include consideration of sustainable economical, environmental, and social solutions.
Perhaps a life-centred design approach to the introduction of lithium into…
Speculative Design is a design practice combining science fiction world-building techniques with design to create prototypes of future artefacts to provoke thinking and discussion about potential futures beyond what we think is possible.
The practice emerged in the 1990s as designers began to question their role in consumerism’s impact on the planet. This values-based, experimental practice remained a lesser-known curio until the internet exposed it to the wider design folk, offering them a means to explore designing for values over profit.
While foresight practices and other futures studies start with an analysis of today and relevant data to identify unseen…
In a time when a pandemic has shut down the world, bushfires turn the skies Bladerunner orange, the truth becomes fake news and fake news becomes truth, it’s almost undeniable how easy science fiction can become science fact.
And yet the world’s skies remain empty of flying cars.
Because science fiction isn’t purely about prediction.
Science fiction casts present and imagined trajectories into the future to explore alternative perspectives on today, to both warn and inspire us, and possibly change the direction in which we are headed.
Designing for the fiction of future scenarios can have a similar effect on…