Near Future Design
There are many possible futures. Perhaps the most important question we can ask ourselves is:
What future do we want?
The future does not exist. We live our lives in the present, and the future exists only in our imaginations, in our hopes, dreams, wishes, plans, forecasts and blueprints.
“The future,” in other words, is something we experience today. It is a performance, a global conversation about what we want, what we fear, what we expect, and what kinds of possibilities we can imagine.
We establish the future by the conversations we have about it.
Innovation is the art and science of bringing valuable new possibilities into being. That is, futures that are both desirable and possible. Thus, innovation is both design and implementation: designing a possible future and then making it happen.
But which future do we want?
Near future design.
The near future designer serves to activate the imagination; to help communities “conceive possibilities which do not yet exist” — possible futures — using dialogue, visualization, modeling and performance.
One of the central assumptions of near future design is that the future is not singular. There are an infinite number of possible futures, and we bring futures into being first by imagining them, next by exploring and examining them, and finally by selecting them.
The near future designer helps society and communities imagine, explore and examine possible futures, in order to increase the “possibility space” and improve the quality of decisions we make about what we value and how we want to proceed.
The near future designer helps us decide: Which future do we want?
The conversations we have, and the explorations we make in the present are important because they change the ideas that we have, and the decisions we make. Thus in a very real way, they change the future, because altering the present in such a way that we can make better choices and bring better futures into being.
The near future designer situates possible futures into the present, so we can explore them, think about them, talk about them and make value judgments about them.
To do this, we must understand the state of the arts and existing technologies. But that in itself is not enough. We must also understand the limits of our imaginations, the rituals and tensions of our times, including our deepest conflicts as well as those things which inspire us and provoke a sense of wonder.
We must create a tangible “sense of the possible” that feels real.
The near future designer presents us with tangible possible futures in the form of objects, visualizations and performances, to give us a more visceral understanding of what those futures mean, how we might experience them, how they might feel. By creating a space where we can suspend disbelief and simply experience the possible, the near future designer helps us develop a sense of the possible by giving us things to play with and ways to act it out.
This is Near Future Design.
A performance exploring possible futures, in which the observed current state of the arts and technologies mingles with culture to create a collective “sense of the possible”.
In which we improve our ability to explore, examine and experience possible futures, in order to make better decisions about which futures we want.
In which we connect and synthesize multiple sources of knowledge, in all disciplines and modalities, across cities, cultures, and virtual domains.
In which we can better understand tensions, conflicts, harmonies, dissonances; rituals, and tendencies when they are in their early stages, when they are still only suggestions.
The near future designer plays a fundamental role for society, creating spaces where people can perceive possible futures and take an active role in a conversation to build, create and perform their “collective possible,” helping more people make better decisions about the future we want.