Postcards from the future: Possible paths

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I very consciously went into The Future seeking something outside of my own immediate sphere of interests. What exactly this was going to be, I didn’t really know – but I decided to embrace the theme and sought out speakers that I hoped would give me insight into unfamiliar areas of design and its potential to impact our lives in the years to come. 

Through a number of talks, I came to see that the world is changing at such a fast pace – technologically, environmentally, socially, politically – and so are the functions, roles and social responsibilities of design. Over the course of two very enjoyable days I started to identify the emergence of two very different paths for our industry’s future. The first is where Design plays a key role in a more optimistic future – a profession focussed on people and geared to instigating social and environmental change. That was evident in the words of two speakers – Kaave Pour of Space 10, and Ilse Crawford, both of whom championed a humanist approach to design by putting people first. Both talked frequently about spaces, products and design solutions that were dedicated to improving peoples lives in very real, meaningful ways. 

This was contrasted then with a slightly murkier road, one where we are less aware than we should be of the real world impacts of how our communal skill-sets are used by business, consumers and markets. This along with the recurring theme of big-data and all the very real issues around data privacy that comes with it, highlighted – at least for me – our need to be be cognisant of what we stand for both as individuals and as a profession… or at the very least be honest about what that is.

Ultimately I walked away feeling optimistic and inspired, the sign of a good conference, one where multiple and often very challenging points of view were presented by a broad range of speakers. I'm looking forward to more of the same from Future's of the future…

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