Thesis Topic Proposal: Design and Futurology

by guy keulemans on September 24, 2008

“The goal of forecasting is not to predict the future but to tell you what you need to know to take meaningful action in the present.” – Paul Saffo


+ what questions can we ask about the future and what predictions can we make?

+ how can this inform predictive design?

+ how can this inform non-predictive design, contemporary design, which still includes the perceptions of the future in its conception.

+ how can our fears and dreams for the future be addressed in object design.

+ given the rise of futurology studies and their increasing importance in technological industries, to what extent can a study of futurology help conceptual object designers working in the present. The idea is not to come up with wacky future products, but sensible contemporary objects that stand the test of time and the changing demands of future society. Although I should add that humour is important.

+ How will demand push practices – marketing, branding, advertising, etc change in the future and to what extent will affects product design,

+ How will demand pull – classic consumer demand, change in the future and ditto. Are consumers becoming more aware of product choice through the internet, or does just create a confusing and uncoordinated tapestry of information for the user….. perhaps creating the rise of meta-critics….(push demand)

+ to what extent can designers invest probabilities into their work….. how much can a forecast of 80% something or other becoming likely be invested into the object while still addressing the remaining 20% – – can futurology be a while in-building an insurance policy into the design of an object?

This could be a study about about the discipline of futurology within a theoretical framework: that of design. But, this is not a study of the future of design, though that is one logical path I could take. Importantly, for me it is not an investigation into possible future aesthetics to inform m own work, but a theoretical and conceptual base upon which to express my own aesthetic. A fine distinction I should break down more later.

Artifacts that position themselves as insurance against unknown futures:

Clock of the Long Now (10,000 year clock)

The Friars Astrological Clock, from the Clock Museum in Vienna.

The Rosetta Disk, part of the Rosetta Project nickel alloy disk with 1000 languages micro-inscribed. Inspired by the Rosetta Stone, as was my own design from 2003; “Trinumeric Dice”, below, featured numbers in 3 languages: indo-arabic, mayan, and binary.

The Long Bet Project

World’s slowest, longest concert: a long running music composition by John Cage in Halberstat Germany (Sankt-Burchardi-Church). There is a note change on November 2008

Jens Olsen’s World Clock or Verdensur

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