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When we think about the future, we usually think about a place or space that will become our destiny (whether that be a utopia or dystopia or anything in-between). And usually we think it will be largely determined by third parties with power – international governments, global conglomerates or major technology. Therefore we often believe the future is out of our hands – a destiny we cannot escape.
However, the rise in the study of Desirable Futures helps us understand the ‘future concept’ as a horizon of possibilities and probabilities that will result from our collective actions. Consequently it is more useful to think about the design of possible futures, rather than the determination of a singular desirable future.
Design’s most valuable role is to create solutions to complex problems.
Designers by nature are curious, and drawn to making things better - whether that be a better product, a more accessible interface, a more efficient service or a better connected system. Design’s most valuable role is to create solutions to complex problems.
Design is used every day to conceptualise and produce products and services that we may need today, but might be obsolete, or even a hindrance tomorrow. While design is particularly well suited to the business world’s current need for innovation, how can we ensure design is used to solve complex problems rather than creating many more?
While we are well aware of how design is used to solve some of our more mundane problems – getting a burger home delivered, communicating the unique characteristics of a craft beer, or improving the flight check-in experience – how can we use design to solve some of the world's most pressing problems – climate change, resource shortages, population displacement, domestic violence.
Can well designed cities, precincts, buildings and communities also reduce the growing epidemic of social isolation and depression?
In a recent TED talk, Vishaan Chakrabarti highlights the phenomenon of 100,000 people moving to urban cities everyday. How do we design urban areas that not only cope with this demand, but also offer quality of life. According to Vishaan “…how we design these urban areas is going to determine how we thrive or not as a species”.
Some of the problems caused by this rapid increase of population include the sea of homogenised apartment towers and soul-less cities springing up all over Asia - as well as the dysfunctional road and transport networks required to service this need. How can we build cities that are physically and culturally varied? How do we design cities of difference? How do we design for happiness within our cities? How do we enable human connection, interaction and relationships? Can well designed cities, precincts, buildings and communities also reduce the growing epidemic of social isolation and depression?
What responsibility do we as designers have to ensure that the solutions we create do not evolve into bigger problems?
Contemporary practices of Participatory Design, Design Thinking and Human Centered Design have emerged as methodologies and philosophies equipped to help people, organisations and societies solve some of these complex problems – all with a promise of designing and creating desirable futures. But as these practices and principles start to take a foothold within mainstream business, can we actually deliver on the promise of designing desirable futures? And does a desirable future only exist within the eye of the designer? Or the client? Or the user? How do we ensure the future we are creating is desirable for the many – not just the privileged few? What responsibility do we as designers have to ensure the solutions we create do not evolve into bigger problems?
During Pause Fest 2019, will be moderating a panel of speakers to discuss this topic and explore the role and responsibilities designers can take on to ensure the creation of desirable futures. Presented by AGDA, the panel includes:
About Pause Fest
A catalyst for change, a uniter of all industries, and a platform for the future, Pause Fest is the world’s leading creativity-infused business event.
Often described as “Australasia’s SXSW” and as “Woodstock for digital natives”, Pause Fest has grown to welcome some 15,000 movers, shakers and creative change-makers.
Pause Fest gathers the world’s foremost thought leaders: in 2018, welcoming over 400 startups, 1200 businesses and over 35 media outlets from across Australia. That’s a lot of people.
If you’re looking for creative collaboration, free-thinking folk, business-driving opportunities, and networking potential, you’re looking for Pause Fest.
Tickets for Pausefest can be found hereBack to Articles