What is the future of design?

Published:  February 6, 2013
What is the future of design?

We asked Bruce Sterling, Koert Van Mensvoort, Garry Emery, Lorraine Justice, Liane Rossler and Suzanne Boccalatte for their thoughts on the future of design.

Bruce Sterling

We’ll see the continuation of design’s traditional strengths: user-centricity and an attentive sensitivity to the grain of the material. The ‘users’ will change as human populations always do, and the ‘material’ will also change, including design of software, interaction and experience. Most factors that will be a big deal in five years are already here, because we already know the people who will be involved. Design 25 years out is harder to forecast because those designers are all in short pants now. If you’d like a one-sentence description of the approaching mid-21st century world, it’s this: ‘Old people in big cities who are afraid of the sky.’

Koert Van Mensvoort

Today design starts at the level of bits, atoms, neurons and genes. Virtual realities, nano and biotechnology are increasingly determining our everyday aesthetics and providing new construction kits for our reality. Yet, while our natural environment is replaced by a world of design, our technological environment becomes so complex, omnipresent and autonomous that we start to perceive it as a nature of its own. How do we design for this next nature? How do we guide its growth and set out a track towards the future that is rewarding for humankind and the planet at large? This is the design agenda.

Garry Emery

You can’t foretell the future. You can imagine what the future will hold – but only by projecting what we already know of the present and the past. So forget the future. Concentrate on the now. That’s where the action is: let’s predict the present. To understand thoroughly the forces that shape design today is to become better designers. To know design history and whose shoulders we stand on is to become better designers. Design intrinsically embodies the future: our stock-in-trade is invention, surfing the crest of the next wave. Do that well enough and design has a future.

Lorraine Justice
What is the future of design? Massive. It will permeate everything (as it should) when it comes to increasing experiences… everything from learning, to being a medical patient, to relaxing at home, to helping others, to purchasing, to spending time with friends and family. Design as a self-expressive exercise will continue to find its way in our daily lives as well, focusing on the beautiful and sublime, to the funny and wild experiences we crave. Good design should become an embedded cultural belief.

Liane Rossler

The future of design is looking diverse and expansive. I see design moving into a greater cross-section of professions – applying the process of design and problem solving to areas such as business and education. There will be innovations in materials, machinery, processing and manufacturing, as well as the development of traditional techniques, fixing, repairing and hacking, and a continued appreciation of the unique and small scale. We will see a more democratic approach too. The rise of workshops, DIY and skill sharing. This will result in more closed loop product manufacturing, with designers and businesses taking responsibility for what they produce. Waste will be seen as a resource and sustainability in design as a given – not a feature.

Suzanne Boccalatte

I visited the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart recently after being hounded by all. I’m usually suspicious when told, ‘you’re gonna love it’; it’s easy to be contrary. Despite the expectations, MONA is more than I could have imagined – well-conceived, ingenious brand and breathtaking architecture set into a beautiful landscape. David Walsh (like him or not) wanted to build a museum. He famously said his motivation was to ‘get the chicks’. Yet Walsh’s vision gives insight to what the future of design should look like. Design is not just about looking good – it should astonish, take risks, convert and perform. So take note CEOs and marketing managers – real vision will get you more than chicks.

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