The future can often be divided into two categories, one that we fear and one that we strive for. The first and fearful prognosis shows an apocalyptic world where humankind fighting for survival is inevitable. The other more positive prognosis, shows humans and technology living in harmony. The earth has become a peaceful place with hoovering cities, helpful robots and freedom. So, what decides which direction we’ll go in, and what lays in between?
As part of the Festival 2019, we joined forces with Bespoke to together unfold future landscape potential by hosting an event and opening up discussions from different mindsets and experiences. The Copenhagen-based Strategic Foresight and Experience design studio Bespoke discover trends and scenarios by observing behaviour and surroundings.
Bespoke are designing the future together with clients such as IKEA, Microsoft, The European Commission and use their expertise to empower courageous organisations and individuals to use the future as a source of hope and inspiration for the present. The following text is gathered thoughts from the event.
Bespoke Partner and Foresight Director, Nicolas Arroyo, spoke about how imagination is key and that one shouldn't underestimate its power. Once a thought is born, it leads somewhere, sometimes consciously and sometimes not. The product of thoughts is the seed that can grow and turn into big things, because, all things do start with us thinking. Once the thought is shared; great things can happen.
Discussions made it clear many believes the future is influenceable. Not by a higher power but by all of us, small or big companies and the average citizen. All decisions and expectations we make will somehow affect what lay before us.
When spacing out about tomorrow, it's easy to forget about today; what already exists and how hard we initially searched to find or invent it. Those things needs to be kept safe, for change is not always good. Another aspect that often gets overshadowed is the foundation of all; the people. We talk about opportunities in the sense of technology but forget about human values and mental health. It will (probably) be hard to stop development of tech that opposes human contact, exercise and emotions. How do we choose, or can we choose, what will be available and how do we prevent negative tech to take over?
To merge the abstract and the concrete we use tactile thinking. Tactile thinking can be compared with tactile learning in which you touch, write or do a hands-on activity to learn new things. Tactile thinking by comparison is making the thinking process tactile and hands-on. By gathering people to discuss we explore possibilities from different point of views and mindsets, getting real and honest answers. We use speculative design when seeking answers beyond the product or service itself, to go further into societal, cultural and future questions.
Futures design is not something that concerns only certain business areas or companies. It is important to activate tactile thinking and use speculative design in all lines of work and everyday lives to produce results. As written in Circular and Bio based Economy, the future is always an aspect in our process:
...as designers, we have a certain responsibility to make sure the products and services landing in society is sustainable and setting a solid foundation for the future.
As quoted above, future thinking in the design business (can be tricky) but is always useful. Using it to get possible scenarios (eg from putative legislation, change buyer behaviours or etc) on the table and being able to discuss the opportunities those can bring, that is a business development opportunity most companies can not afford to miss out on.
However, in other business-areas the hands-on actions can be more blurry and harder to discover - but equally important. Bespoke and Zenit Design are two parts of the design process. When formulating futures and working on speculative design, hypothesis are built, we at Zenit Design can start supporting our clients testing these hypothesis towards the actual reality and stakeholders.