These 50 words point to key terms and concepts curated for design students and designer-researchers learning how to engage in making, shaping and critiquing FUTURES DESIGN and DESIGN FUTURE LITERACIES. The 50 words are connected to a range of activities covered in the UNITS. They are a resource to consult in learning via briefs/tasks/deliveries, whether in a studio course or when preparing term paper/presentation or thesis. The definitions are not meant to be exhaustive or hard and fast rules; they need to be related to contexts and communicative purposes and enactments.


The energy, force and power a design centred person, group, persona or organisation, or an entity, tool or system, enacts to realise its intentions, goals and potentials in context and settings that matters to its’ future survival, character and dynamics to make for its motivation, inspiration, vibrancy and vitality in shaping futures.


To attract, charm, tempt, draw in, entice, appeal or fascinate a person or thing to take a course of action, participate or engage with a design, artifact, process or view, a pull towards what it ‘might be’, desire for something that doesn’t exist, creating conditions and opportunities for something ‘else’ to begin happening.


To take care ahead of time, to look forward to or to visualise a future event or state, to be apprehensive or excited something will perhaps happen ‘tomorrow’, to have an expectation, hope, preparation or knowledge concerning a future scenario. 


To hope and reach for something beyond the present, a sense, state, destination or goal that reaches beyond the here-and-now and sekks or soars above and beyond it with the intention of arriving at or securing at a different, potentially better place or position or set of potentials for further action or success.


An act of throwing something backwards form where it was projected, used in fly fishing, where a looping occurs that repositions what was jettisoned ahead or into the future, back into the present, as used in foresight studies, with the purpose of revisiting and revising what was perceived and proposed now it is re-situated in the same point of departure.


A sense of inclusion, membership and shared identity borne out of being involved in a common process or set of actions and senses that apply to the individual but also to a group and its participants through close relationships, specific interests, and a sense of friendship or joint expression or suitable character.


To express, concern, commitment and ethical actions through relationships, identities and interactions in and over time.


To shift a condition, quality, phase or relation form one state or link to another in which replacement, substitution, deviation, conversion, transformation or transposition may occur in the future that differs from the initial situation and offers an alternate, possible potential or preferable alternative composition, direction, process or relationship.


A collaborative, co-operative act of novel design, generative making, producing and using of design artefacts and processes that depends on connected imagining and shared meaning making that is enriched by virtue of its coordination and dynamic collective qualities and enactment.


A sharing and shaping together by two or more persons, entities or organisations, of a desired, intended or hoped for process or outcome that depends on respect for others’ views and contributions, with the overall goal or arriving at a specific purpose, result or state that allows further co-creativity, meaning making and shared understanding that is not competitive.


An assembly or collection of a group or a whole that works cooperatively and collaboratively to realise shared member interests and goals for identified, imagined or proposed or projected futures.


A set of states, relations or arrangements that may be intricate, detailed, diverse, and complex in how they are realised, connected or run as systems, members and specifics in terms of their qualities, membership and dynamics, where the weave of relations may be difficult to perceive, identify, alter and change.


The imaginative and expressive capacity, process, or outcome of an act or acts of making and shaping ideas, processes and products that transcend given, traditional or known views or approaches, to generate and motivate new concepts, thoughts, artEfacts and expressions, modes of use and engagement that are transformational and potentially challenging.


Altering, offering, proposing, up-ending, hindering, provoking and usurping known, assumed and conventional views and ways of working and behaving in public settings and relations, whether community or businesses, through rapid, unexpected unsettling, even abrasive strategies and techniques with the aim of offering, challenging and projecting positive, experimental, and actual alternate futures and potentialities, with the risk of diffuse result and unintended consequences.


The energy, movement, vibration and transformative force of elements and processes of participants, materials and entities, large and small, that may occur due to it being primed, seeded, inspired, motivated, supported, or carried out, whether by humans or natural and ecological or computational systems and instructions resulting in change, further activity or perpetuation.


A negative or destructive imaginary, visionary,  situation, place, state, system or society onto and through which futures design may be positioned or projected to promote bad, terrible or horrifying alternatives or present options to current conditions or constraints.


A view and a behavioural and policy position that appreciates, works with and to provide security and productivity for primarily living, dynamic and generative natural environments but also artificial ones without their impinging on the survival and sustainability of others.


The coming into being, a gradual appearance, natural or self-generative manifestation that becomes more noticeable, visible or certain, applying to an artifact, a human or non-human entity or arrangement, process or social or biological formation, that introduces, poses or problematises given current views or knowledge and offers alternatives, existence in the making of a sense of becoming not only being.


Suitable, appropriate and correct practices behaviours and compliance with standards, values, beliefs and morals that are linked to futures that responsibly realise individual, shared and collective needs and interests.


A sense, feeling, hope or fear that something will happen in the future, as a given, as a potential and as an unknown.


Conjectural, artificial, experimental acts that work with expectations, feelings and experiences systems, scenarios and personas to generate novel, alternative narratives and storymaking to blur given, literal and everyday with notions and articulations that may be fantastic, non-realist and allegorical. 

22. FLUX

A change, alteration, oscillation, shifting between states or environments or conditions, that is connected to being fluid and ‘plastic’, where change is ongoing, a passage, a tide, a flow, and even to some degree about a constant modification or transformation.


Knowing in the present of being able to perceive, see ahead or predict, in design acts of prefiguring and planning futures.


A sense, feeling, view and approach to futures design in which elements are co-present, are agreeably orderly, relate to one another in accord, are congruous and peaceable and thereby provide a state and a happy means to informed, respectful and productive design futures enactment.


Having a creative, mental, and perceptual ability and capacity to shape and share what may be conceptualised, beyond given realities and facts, where invention, ideational and fabulated futures may be posed to inform design knowing.


A linked systems of relations between persons, information tools, systems and experiences that allow for the making of connections and the sharing of experiences in distributed, various and intersecting ways between its parts and whole.


The inclusion, involvement or enrollment of persons or parties, groups of organisations, entities or beings, tools or technologies and  activities that are geared towards collaborative, co-creative, collective developments, processes, strategies and decisions, oriented toward common and shared interests, democratic and stakeholder perspectives and representation. 


The conditions, processes and states of making for and shaoting a multiplicity and diversity of perspectives and participation whether by inclusion, voting or distribution in which futures design is seen as polymorphous and plural, not singular.


An act, design product, interaction or service that is capable of being realised or occurring in a future time, based on given, predictable and favourable conditions, characteristics, properties and dynamics that are identifiable and achievable in a scenario or prospective arrangement or relationship.


Adopting a mental and a pragmatic based view on advancing a state, activity, effect, event or change that relies on an action that reaches ahead of the present, looks forward and attempts to work beyond limitations and conceptualisation located, informed or constrained by present conditions or perceptions to realise change by acting.


An act, design product, interaction or service that is likely to be realised or occur in a future time, based on conditions, characteristics, properties and dynamics that are known and unknown, but converge or coalesce in a scenario or prospective arrangement or relationship.


The sending or moving something forward, an idea or a voice, an estimate of a future plan, situation or event based on what is already known, and a psychological act that places attention on one’s own views, desires or fears onto another.


To look ahead into a time ahead of the immediate or the past with the aim of providing insight and guidance.


That which is nearby and related in the way in which it as an object or system or process, but especially a body, or body part, physically or metaphorically, appears, connects, moves alongside or is positioned to express a sense of relation, affinity, or connection, and is close and possible to be sensed and perhaps attached or shifted in a shared activity of change.


Links or connections between members in a group, or family, between concepts and processes, between materials and mediations, in acts of making sense and meaning though grammar, sets of similar words, families or memberships of groups, ideas and larger frameworks that allow a view and the analysis of connections and part-whole patternings to inform wider world views.


A machine or mechanical device or configuration that allows for repeated actions and processes driven by computational and intelligent systems in work contexts and processes that may be human-like, and may appear in other domestic domains, emerging in futures products, production lines, warfare and design services.


A future situation that could emerge, happen or develop; an imagined, designed or projected possible future plan or event; an outline, description or mediation of future actions or events; a design fiction description of events drawing on scenarios and personas, connected too with foresight studies.


To initiate, ingest, instill, inculcate and ferment and initiate as part of a process of generation, fostering, supporting and promoting an idea, project or process for a future that lies beyond the present and its characteristics and operations.


The modelling, construction, representation and communication, or fabrication or counterfeiting, often computationally, of needs, interests, problems, situations, contexts and events to investigate, enact, propose or promote a view in and of the future.


To do with guess, conjecture and the abstract rather than facts, concerning potential commercial or financial investment for future profit; suggesting means to futures beyond current conditions and constraints; possible estimates and projections not actual future realisation.


A person, group, entity, company, community or organisation who has an interest in the definition, development and circulation of a process, project or application, in the business of community contexts, that also has rights and responsibilities for their own and others’ interests and achievements.


To have the capacity and means to create and negotiate the conditions and contexts, limits and potentials to act to endure and sustain a state or lifestyle that allows life and future beings, processes and activities to be responsibly and temporally secured and maintained.


To move beyond maintaining processes and states on design, commerce and ecology as given to ones that enable, support and maintain futures that include the uses of natural and human resources and skills for behaviours and activities that do not denude natural resources and environments and support collaborative, appreciated and continued survival.


The deep, overall and holistic experience, expression and structuring of parts of a project, artifact, process or organisational or societal view that are connected, supportive and dynamically arranged and related for an overall and situated understanding of futures design.


Beings and their states and experiences that are realised as a mesh, or blend, of the human and non human, or bio-technical, that transcend the anthropocentrism of the human view and body and presents and develops understanding and participation that widens notions of perception, consciousness and life forms.


A direction, movement or influence towards something new or novel, alluring or part of an individual or group desire, interest or need, in which ideas, design artifact or people’s perceptions, choices and uses of artifacts emerge, are presented or promoted, whether as fashionable, persuasive or realised via weak signalling.


We trust a person, organisation, message or policy when we are confident, hope, believe and know it intends to and does work to honestly, safely and productively enact and support what it aims to do for and in the future, whether directly on the behalf of another or to safe keep interests or resources as agreed, or assigned.


An ideal, imaginary, visionary,  situation, place, state, system or society onto and through which futures design may be positioned or projected to promote alternatives or present options to current conditions or constraints.


For a concept, project, person, thing or organisation to be at a stage of establishment, growth or existence that makes it possible to continue to succeed or develop independently and to have vitality, meaning and succeed.


An imaginative, ideational and perceptual ability and capacity to propose and project future conditions, states, engagement and activities to conceptualise, inspire and reach beyond known and given positions and directions with the aim of supporting the motivation and realisation of alternate, emergent and lasting futures.

Download this ESSENTIAL in printable format: 

Print Version


Future Education and Literacy for Designers (FUEL4Design) is an open project.
You are invited to contribute by presenting your own use of this UNIT as well as share feedback on this resource.


An addition or comment to this ESSENTIAL you see as appropriate.


Making a contribution will help connect the LEXICON to other work, innovations, settings and persons.


Your contribution can be related to the content of this ESSENTIAL of LEXICON, to the work you do or that of others.


Send your suggestions, links, cases, courses, projects and additions to: XXX[at]XXXX.XX