DESIGN FUTURES SCOUTING
The main aim of Design Futures Scouting is to define a process model to generate and frame possible futures in terms of scenarios situated in the world.
The challenge is to provide a model process for framing futures that are plural and multidisciplinary (blending design insights but also anthropological, technological and cultural insights).
MODULE PURPOSE AND FEATURES
The process of Design Futures Scouting will have a generative approach to describing futures scenarios rooted in design practice and it will be designed to be forward looking, student-centred and participatory.
For this module, we propose to explore emergent futures by integrating disciplines, using methodological tools that encompass quantitative and qualitative methods and desk and field research, acknowledging design action as the main driver and tool which engages in materialising futures. Through this process, students will build their own framework of futures.
Design Futures Scouting innovates by introducing the contemplation of four approaches:
1) Generative and performative
A generative and performative approach to forecast futures: iterations and combinations of possible futures can be explored by pushing to the extreme certain weak signals and applying them on future oriented design projects (the process of questioning the concept ‘what if?’) or by crossing scenarios
in order to generate and multiply options. It is not the aim to produce one future, but to provide a ‘landscape of futures’.
Considering the past, doing field research in the present and actuating into the future. Knowledge from the past is an important piece of information that should be considered when scouting emergent futures: evidences from past behavioural cycles and patterns, past trends and their sociocultural adoption, as well as previous design fictional scenarios. Present, in order to be able to observe and detect early futures signals during field research. And futures, by detecting the current early signals and actuation into the near and next futures.
3) Design driven multi-disciplinarity
Futures scouting is a methodology used by other think tanks or departments in organisations, as a way to prepare them or identify opportunities for the future. However, they usually explore futures counting on one or two disciplines, such as technology or sociology. We propose to explore emergent futures integrating disciplines, points of view or information from different angles (politics, industrial drivers, demographics, technology, sustainability, etc), where design and design projects become the driver or evidences of future changes or the tool to materialise the futures.
4) Near and next
Through the applied methodology it is possible to detect and collect weak signals (from different insights – sociocultural, industry, demographics, technology) and future-oriented design projects (‘Near Futures’). An evidence wall is used for the clustering of drivers for innovation and a Cartogram will be used to map and deploy the characteristics and actuations of futures scenarios (‘Next futures’).
The expected outcome of futures scouting is a model process to frame and generate possible futures, and a series of futures scenarios that are more than just examples to start but also they serve as directions, ways of drifting to explore design opportunities.
This module will use the findings of Design Futures Lexicon and Futures Philosophical Pills and will work hand by hand with Design Futures Toolkit. Design Futures Scouting will provide the methodology to build a framework and problem based context by which Design Futures Toolkit can be included into the toolkit. This module will provide a sound methodological, open and generative system for futures scouting rooted in design practice for students and educators.
This generative approach to describing futures rooted in design practice can have a large transferability potential towards not only academia, but also organisations at government level and companies. Since it provides a novel way to include design in futures scouting, it represents a valuable tool for design professionals to be able to develop themselves in the futures arena.