This blog is a collaborative research project of six creative practitioners, with the intention to anticipate the future of design. We researched five subjects that would potentially influence the future of design: Collaboration, Materiality, Craft, Technology, Senses and Play.
Throughout the project we discovered that to work productively as a coherent group, we needed to adapt and change, to co-operate and communicate – to collaborate. Each member of the group was drawn from very different disciplines and experiences, the project had the potential to become fractioned and disparate but through collaboration, communication and co-operation we discovered a common ground, a collective passion for creating and making and for our particular field of expertise and subject specialism.
The six fields of research were divided equally amongst members of the group. Through experimentation and discovery it was clearly evident that we were naturally drawn towards other subjects through our methodologies.
We have produced a short film presenting our research and experience of the group collaboration project, please sit back and enjoy:
The following information is the summation of our collaborative and collective research in anticipating change.
Collaboration is innate to human nature, we exist through a biological collaboration between our parents, an unborn child collaborates with their mother, relatives collaborate together as a family, and then we collaborate with our ‘village’ the wider circle of friends and family that help us grow. The modern village is open to interpretation discussion. Air travel connected countries around the world decades ago, and now we can reach each other instantly and digitally through the internet with emails, Skype, Whats App, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
New apps and technologies are emerging on a daily basis, providing powerful and innovative ways for people to collaborate and connect, it’s never been easier or more democratic to reach out, find and create with people who share your interests and values. As technology advances and cultures shift, some aspects of collaboration will stay true.
Be open to change. Collaboration and engagement allow the transcendence of existing limitations by introducing new ideas, new connections, new perspectives, new options, and new skills. All these possibilities can only emerge if there is willing to let change take place, and to learn from each other. Allow the letting go of blocks to thought and creativity.
Find others that share your values. You can collaborate with people that have similar methodology, possibly similar techniques with similar objectives, but ultimately if you don’t share the same values and aims, it can limit what you can achieve. By underpinning any collaboration with a core of shared perspectives, desires, and drivers, you have the foundations that will keep the relationship going forward, and overcoming potential obstacles.
Potential relationships. The true potential of collaboration isn’t just the number of individuals involved, but the number of potential connections each individual could make. Each new connection is a new relationship and for every new relationship there exists the chance for change. A new idea, a new option, a new perspective, building up to new solutions.
Collaborate and disrupt. The technology to facilitate collaborative relationships is more powerful than ever and available to anyone who can access an internet connection. With the existing desire for worldwide cooperative organisations, creates the opportunity to disrupt, change and evolve existing ‘economies’ and value systems. Information doesn’t have to be owned, it can be shared, finance isn’t necessarily held by major institutions, it can be crowd sourced, and hierarchies could be replaced by cooperative networks.
The future of collaboration uses available technology to find people that share your values, wherever they are in the world, and then to communicate, share and combine ideas. That potential will ultimately create new solutions to disrupt and improve the world.
Materiality must be at the centre of future design, it is the beating heart of research and innovation in the creative industry. It is through materiality that we explore and build upon our ideas. Innovation and creativity exist in balance with the materials upon which we rely, as a society we place extremely high value on objects and luxury materials, in design research new smarter materials allow for more forward thinking design to be realised and implemented. It is the nature if design to explore the limits of materials and what different properties can bring a design forwards.
New developments such as 3D printing now mean materials such as plastics, clay and paper can be used in new and more complex ways to create solid structures that would otherwise be impossible to create. The 3D printer also allows for short run prototyping on a small scale that while expensive means items can be created more simply and without complex and expensive manufacturing equipment.
The use of bio plastics is ever increasing and leads the way into an environmentally friendly way of creating containers that no longer create guilt over the environmental impact if their use. Another innovation in plastics is the new lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastics and self-healing plastics that are currently in development and will have a significant impact on the future design of remote location equipment such as space craft.
Materiality also means bringing ancient materials such as clay and other ceramic compounds into twenty first century use. Ceramic materials are now being used as less invasive implants in medical technology and advances in 3D printing aid this significantly.
The use of smart materials is design is also growing rapidly from fabrics that can sense the oxygen content in a room, to paper circuitry and thermochromatic pigments that allows us to creat heat sensitive equipment that can have reaching implications in medical devices as well as in promotional design content.
Design and materials exist together and will be intricately linked in the future of design for years to come.
In today’s increasingly digi-centric, disposable world, there’s a danger we’re forgetting something important about both the heritage, and the future, of the global manufacturing industry – the value of craftsmanship.’ (Gilcommunity.com, 2015)
Louis Nizer, a famous craftsman said, a person who works with his hands is a laborer, a person who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman. That’s also the reason why each work make by craft, rather than machine, have their own life. Sometimes when I was trying to make my jewelry, my original thought would be totally different from the one I made. Because as a craftsman, I need to think about want I’m doing, what I’m trying to do, and what I need to improve all the time. The process of thinking and making is more important than the final work. Quality, passion and experience are the ingredients, the difference is the outcome. That’s the meaning of craft.
If you never try, you will never learn how to do it. If you haven’t try a lot of time, you will never know one hundred percent how to do it. No one will ever get it perfect the first time. In fact, there’s a good chance you will never get it perfect, you must try again and again, By which process, you learn new things, you found the happiness of dealing with craft, you make your design more perfect, you pave a way for your next design… Then you will find, without craft, design itself is less interesting.
Consumer electronic devices now allow users to track and generate data from a range of different aspects of your life. Fitness tracking bands such as Jawbone and Fitbit keep track of your daily physical activity and sleep patterns. Sites such as Amazon use analytics and track the mouse movements of the user, their time spent, and behaviour patterns on every page with the aim of predicting your next purchase. Facebook and other social networks act as chronological digital timelines recording the users thoughts, feelings, locations travelled, relationships and photographs.Now and in the near future consumer white goods such as fridges and washing machines, home energy management systems, security systems, will be connected to the internet, built with multitudes of data points, recording, transmitting and analysing people’s behaviours, actions and intimate preferences.
Collectively there could be enough data to build a picture of a person, their life and relationships, sometimes more accurately than they know their own ‘quantified selves’. This information can be used to help lead healthier or more efficient lifes, utilising analytical insights with empirical data a person otherwise could not know. Data intelligence such as drfoster.com is already being utilised by the NHS as a driver for efficiency and performance. Networks such as PatientsLikeMe.com and Crohnology.com for sufferers of Chrohn’s Disease, will alllow members to connect and share experiences and information to build collective insights into health conditions beyond established medical knowledge, empowering people to use their collective information for social benefit. Attempts are beginning to explore unanswered questions and ethics as to who will own this data, what are the rights of access, how will it be kept secure, and it adds to the eternal discussion of what it means to be human.
Google aim to one day be able to predict answers before users think of the question and they believe getting computers to ‘read’ and ‘understand’ is the key to reaching that goal. They’ve acquired artificial intelligence companies, research companies, robotics companies and world leading futurologists to work on shaping the future digital landscape. The future may require new creative skills to come to the fore such as searching, filtering and curating, the way Google Search functions now is the beginning of this direction. Those skills could enable creatives to create with data being another artistic material to work with. Programming and coding software will be another creative discipline just as drawing, painting, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk 3DS Max and HTML are now. It the future people will continue to pursue inner peace and spiritual endeavours just as they have for millennia. Technology could facilitate certain aspects, while age old traditions such as meditation, prayer and a connection to nature will continue to provide an alternative. Nature will still be an inspiration and a resource, and even though trees preceded the existence of mammals, we are still making discoveries about its materials and structures. We continue to look to wood and other natural resources in innovative ways, deconstructing, reforming and re-engineering to create new solutions.
Glass is a traditional craft so it is important to transform it into another future design fitting this modern world. For example, 3D printing technology with hot glass could be an innovative method to present another view of glass art and design. Additionally, glass is such a fluid medium, but it can also be very solid and fragile. Sometimes it can be transparent or opaque or it can be plain or colourful, all of which makes it a versatile material with which to create unique artworks. However, all materials have their own unique qualities which can be leveraged to create art pieces that play to those strengths but doing good design is the key to make a difference in that material. For instance, I combined recycled glass bottles with QR codes as modern technology, which connected to our blog detailing similar ideas about the combination of glass and the senses.
According to Stuart Leslie, people often make buying decisions by using all five of their senses and once product designers discovered what each of these sensory influences are, they can develop packaging that strategically speaks to consumers at each stage of the decision-making process. In the Sensory Lab, they have demonstrated the six stages of purchase which include the first glance, the inspection, the psychical interaction, the opening, consumption or usage, and the completion. These stages have been shown to significantly inform how the five senses influence consumer decision-making. Moreover, people can be emotionally sensitive which means sensory design can be indispensable in the future of design. In my opinion, nowadays people are too busy to perceive the beauty of surrounding where they are living or traveling so using the five senses in design can catch people’s full attention. Personally, it could be a powerful and healing design for decreasing people’s depression and creating a pleasant and comfortable experience for users which might significantly influence the future market. Additionally, as we know, living in a modern society is full of challenges so more and more people are looking for a comforting design to heal themselves. When they see those works which can have a positive impact on their wellbeing and bring them energy, they can be drawn to them. The last but not least, Five senses can lead how people feel this world and create the emotion so if we could develop this idea to design that can match some scientists said that more than half the brain is devoted to processing visual imagines,and 80 perpent of learning is based on visual input positive/ negative colours.
When you play, you engage the creative side of your brain and silence your “inner editor,” that psychological barrier that censors your thoughts and ideas. This can often help you see the problem in a new light and generate fresh, creative solutions. Anon, 2015
Through life we are continually exploring and discovering. Play is an important part of our education and development as human beings, we learn through experimentation, through our interaction and collaboration with others. Play is an expressive and experiential process within creativity, it allows designers to push the boundaries and take risks. Experimentation leads to innovation and invention without the hindrance of formal constraints or concerns of failure.
Global companies are using play within their business to generate new and innovative ways of working and thinking, for instance in addition to Legos innovative educational packages for schools it has introduced Lego Serious Play to improve their business performance across the company. Lego Serious Play invites a multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving and working collaboratively.
Play is about engaging and interacting, facing challenging situations within a safe environment, overcoming obstacles and hurdles.
Designers are continually pushing the boundaries of interactive design, using the latest technologies to engage new audiences.
Anon, (2015). [online] Available at: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/benefits-of-play-for-adults.htm [Accessed 3 Jan. 2015].
Paul Tate (2013). Manufacturing’s Future: The Role of Craftsmanship’. Available at: http://www.gilcommunity.com/discussion/manufacturings-future-role-craftmanship/ [Accessed 29. October 2014].