Designing for the future: trends we need to consider now

Designing for the future: trends we need to consider now

This blog post is a part of Design Blogger Competition organized by CGTrader, who invited me to join the discussion and share my views on how the future of design might look like. Before blogging I worked as an Intelligence Analyst, where we often debated what kind of world we’d be in given X, Y and Z happened. We’d sketch out different scenarios and present them to our clients, who, like us, were also trying to make sense of the world and the way in which it is changing. Here are my two cents on the topic. 

It’s fascinating to look back at how we imagined the years 2000 or 2020 to look like decades ago.

Futuristic designs based on leaps in technology, colour replaced by glass and metallic sheen, megacities and things that fly. Small tech, nano tech, shrinking until almost invisible. The idea being to integrate more seamlessly and unnoticeably into our everyday lives. To break free from or better manipulate the natural laws that constrain us. Our phones getting smaller, our screens thinner, until replaced altogether by a chip implanted in the human retina or brain. It’s possible. Humans replaced by robots, humans vs robots, human robots…

With 2020 now just around the corner, we’re seeing some important and interesting changes in how we envisage our future in 2050 or 3000. While we continue to base our predictions on technological change and growth, the future of design and technology is also about solving our big problems of tomorrow. A notable shift from our wants – to fly and look futuristic cool – to our needs.

Future World

Arguably the greatest problem we are facing is environmental.

It’s a problem of epic proportions, so big and terrifying that I almost don’t blame those that wish to deny its very existence. Particularly as our population continues to grow, it’s one of the most real and immediate threats against humanity.

To that effect, it’s not surprising that we are seeing the designs of the future change from minimalist metallics back towards greener and more natural, recyclable and renewable materials. Movements such as slow fashion and slow food gaining momentum. Creative new ways emerging to minimise waste and resource use. Better integration of nature and natural life into our city spaces.

We are also designing for a more unpredictable future, where our designs as well as ourselves need to be more adaptable and resilient than we’ve ever been before.

Ultimately we have two options: become sustainable here on Earth or move to Mars!

Since we are not yet designing for a future on another planet (well, not most of us anyway), I believe that art, science, commerce, design and technology all have a role to play in providing solutions to our climate change and sustainability challenges. By integrating a wide-ranging mix of solutions into our everyday lives, we can create the shift we so urgently need.

Previously I worked for five years as an Intelligence Analyst researching oil and gas trends, challenges and opportunities. I came into the field following a Masters in International Development, which is essentially the study of why and how some countries develop while others do not. I came to understand that in addition to resource endowments and other factors, a lot of it comes down to the ability to access and afford energy.

Renewable energy is undoubtedly the future of power.

But it takes time. Our world is still burning huge amounts of coal for power, the dirtiest fuel of them all, because it is also one of the cheapest and most abundant. Advances in solar and wind technology continue to make huge strides, but are also currently more available in some regions than others, further complicating these transitions. Meanwhile, larger challenges remain for transportation, which is the main sector in which oil and gas remain dominant.

Bigger than these logistical and technological problems, though, bigger than insufficient battery capacity or affordability, is our mindset in tackling these problems. The us versus them.

It is the lack of global cooperation among our leaders today that is one of, if not the strongest factor holding us back from a paradigm shift towards a better future. 

Today, my generation mostly do not yet hold significant positions of power.

But it is my generation who do not question climate change, we look to solve it. We bring our own bags to the supermarket rather than use plastic bags that end up in our oceans. We are more aware of the impact of our consumer behaviour than ever before, taking control of our consumption power. We are more interconnected now through the internet than humanity has ever been.

Tomorrow, my generation will be designing the future.

The future of design is to embed ecological and environmental value in the design of everything. 

Eco-design in all aspects, with a neutral environmental and carbon footprint. I expect to see products made again to last. Energy we produce ourselves as well as consume from the grid. Recyclable phones, Tesla home batteries. New inventions to change how we consume even basics such as water, for example, the water balls that allow you to carry and drink water without the bottle, and the biodegradable plates from grain husks.

Cooperation and communication, empathy and education, on a brand new level, with a brand new slick design. 

Thank you to CG Trader for inspiring this post. If you have any thoughts or views you’d like to share, please use the comments box below. I’d love to hear them.

Featured Image Photo Credit

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