1. WHAT IS FUTURES DESIGN?
FUTURES DESIGN is a domain, a perspective, a position, a means, and a practice to place design work in futures, not only alongside other domains of design, but to shift the focus and practices, conceptually and performatively, of designing for lifeworlds that supplant given limited extractive consumption based economies with ones that are ecologically and sustainably resilient, creatively charged and imaginatively crafted.
2. WHY DO WE NEED FUTURES DESIGN?
FUTURES DESIGN provides us with a focus on the study and shaping of futures by design. FUTURES DESIGN centres on the design of futures, just as other domains of design focus on a theme of specialisation, such as Interaction Design concerns the design of interactions.
There is a need for Design to more explicitly and creatively clarify and realise its role in the context of current global and local contexts and conditions.
These roles need to be reconfigured to meet challenges of environment, public and private complex systems relations, climate change, the place and forces of technology and transformations in society in terms of work, consumption, behaviours and daily life. FUTURES DESIGN seeks to engage productively and critically on shaping futures through design that addressed the contexts, conditions, complexities and cultures of our current local and global settings. It also intends to reach beyond these as fixed in the now to propose, prompt, project and propel alternatives that are both prospective and speculative in participative character, policy and politics.
Earlier industrial design models and marketing, and modernist practices of linear development and the role of designers, business and consumerism are in need of serious, vibrant and resilient alternatives. FUTURES DESIGN thus need to meet demands and situations that may be seen as urgent; it may work with emerging problems and needs; it may reach well beyond given and expectation in speculative and provocative ways. It does this through devising and communicating programmes, strategies, projects, artifacts, processes that serve to embody imaginative perspective and pragmatic views.
All of these alternatives are about design engaging with futures; they are linked practices and modes of growing knowledge that are reflexive and future oriented. They are needed to generate expertise, education and access that are participative and response. They need to be reflexive in how they operate and co-creative in their working to nurture and critically position futures in which we will better use resources and shape a world in which humans relate to other entities and systems that contribute to shared survival and flourishing societies and environments. Needed are tools and devices and a mix of design and research methods and techniques that manifest through designing ways FUTURES DESIGN scenarios and strategies may be enacted and brought back to the present as a resource for critical, reflexive and radical change.
3. WHAT ARE THE RELATIONS BETWEEN FUTURES AND DESIGN?
This points to a need to reorient both Design Studies and Futures Studies as multidisciplinary domains. These two do not often overlap despite their both being concerned with futures; however, their may productively be seen ina relational agonistic or even refractive relationship of transdisciplinary linkage.There is a need to develop FUTURES DESIGN to meet gaps such as:
1) Design inquiry may indeed always be concerned with making and knowing that which does not yet exist. However, it does not always engage with other approaches to shaping futures. Those approaches may not always align with what it is that design does and what and how it generates knowledge through making.
2) Futures Studies has provided important perspectives son how we may understand and work with what is beyond the current.
Needed then is a shaking up of received wisdoms and taken for granted practices in designing and researching futures, resulting in renewal and replacement, ontologically and epistemologically.
4. WHAT DOES FUTURES DESIGN INCLUDE?
FUTURES DESIGN includes and may extend beyond the following:
- Design centred views on futures
- Studies of the future of Design
- Inquiry into Design’s future facing policies and practices
- A framework for analyzing studies of the future from Design
- The design of futures
- A Design orientation on Futures Studies
- Designing through future making and making futures
- Shaping futures through, in and as Design
- Collaborative future facing Design knowledge building and sharing
- Experimental, performative and prospective Design methods for futuring
- Design tools and techniques developed and applied in shaping futures.
FUTURES DESIGN relates to other approaches to the study of futures, most notably Futures Studies. It also aligns with recent developments in ANTICIPATION STUDIES as seen in the related International Conference Series on Anticipation.
5. FUTURES DESIGN AS MAKING WITH ANALYSIS
The name FUTURES DESIGN accentuates that our inquiries in design are located within a studio-based cultures and practices of making and analysis. The studio no longer carries its older Bauhaus origins as a physical location and a practice of making in a venue.
FUTURES DESIGN may be understood a realised through the dynamic activities that we shape between design making and analysing design. This is widened to include ideas, envisioning, co-creation and collaboration that span spaces, participants and venues and times of designing. Analysis may need to work abductively, speculatively and proprioceptively beyond the here-and-now and beyond the predominance of future studies driven by strategic management and decision making and their partial affiliation with planning, control and achievement.
In the Age of the Anthropocene, FUTURES DESIGN has to remake or re-future our sense, knowledge and practices of making futures. It needs to imagine, co-create, explore and investigate by multiple means how we can use metacognitive and massive computing resources to pattern, shape and share today’s resources and expertise together with citizen participation for survivable tomorrows.
These are lifeworlds that we need to secure for future generations. There continued challenge ahead of us is to realise, generate, embody and offer ways to contribute to their continued carefully shaped and design-rich genesis.
6. WHY FUTURES IN THE PLURAL?
The term FUTURES is used in the plural to mark out that there multiple futures lie ahead. There is no one, linear, directed, all encompassing future but spaces and potential, pathways and practices that are plural, unspecifiable, and emergent.
7. WHAT QUESTIONS MIGHT WE POSE?
FUTURES DESIGN needs to be cast in a mode of formative change and to build its own clarity and capacities through critical reflexive engagement.We can take part in shaping its character and dynamics by posing questions that point us towards some of its challenges and possibilities.
- What modes of design knowing support survivable, resilient, responsible and careful futures?
- What conceptions of time are central to FUTURES DESIGN?
- Which models of futures and of care and process are central to FUTURES DESIGN?
- What view and practices of design contribute to shaping FUTURES DESIGN?
- What relationships does FUTURES DESIGN shift in our understandings of the future and the present?
- Who owns FUTURES DESIGN?
- How do networks, systems and senses factor into FUTURES DESIGN and work to construct and support it?
- When and where can we work with performative, expressive and experiential FUTURES DESIGN to effect change, prepare for it and anticipate its cultural character and processes?
Broadly we can summarise FUTURES DESIGN as:
- including human centred, systems oriented, non-human actors, hybrid participants
- located in climate change , environmental needs and protections, ecologies and interrelationships
- enacted via work practices and organisation, by way of daily life and through leisure activities
- realised via narrative, portrayed through media, and taking shape by way of digital-physical arrangements and devices
- concerned with cultural expressions, including interpersonal engagement, and enabling and enacting experiences
- embodied in software, connected to robotics, and driven increasingly by AI
- positioned in global and local economics and structured via governance and policy
- mediated via tools, embodied in design techniques, realised via design and research methods and encapsulated in shared and complex processes
- concerning the reach of design beyond the immediate, taken up in revisions and reconfigurations of both the given and the new, and extending to radical change and and possibly creative and challenging disruption.
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