MK on Future Probing: Designing ‘everyday futures’ with TU/e students

{Long time not see, as they say; Summ( )n’s team is busy with a couple of large global – exciting! – projects that take all time and energy. Which is great but doesn’t leave much time for the blog, alas. Plus, we are currently doing re-designing our website which is a also demotivating a bit to update the ‘old’ version.}

Anyway. A good opportunity to share one of the small latest projects, a session on Future Probing that we recently run with the students of the department of Industrial Design of the TU/e in Eindhoven. The session was in some way similar to the one we run earlier this year with the Design Lab of TU Twente, though bit smaller in size and this more homey,

Another different is that this time the session was a part of the course called “Researching the Future Everyday”; the one in Twente also dealt with ‘future scenarios’, but in this case the TU/e course is one step more nuanced and granular, and more focussed on understanding of the ‘everydayness’ of the possible future.

It is of course great to see that TU/e makes moves their educational programs from the grand (and hollow) ‘future trends’ kind of futuring, and towards better understanding the apparently unremarkable human activities, those daily routines and mundane practices (all the things we would dub ‘the fabric of life’), and how these would change in the future (the course was developed by Lenneke Kuijer who kindle invited us to prepare this session).

The picture above is of course not your usual exercise in ‘creative making’. The team is demonstrating one of the ‘future worlds’, the one they imagined and constructed based on the analysis of multiple ‘signals of the future’.

As always, it started from group discussions and collective (and collaborative) exploration of these signals in small teams (and as always, these discussions took more time than planned, because they are seen and experienced as interesting and very valuable moments):

The teams expectedly struggle with doing ‘glimpsing’ into the future, when they have to come with common themes, or meta-foresights that manifest themselves in different domains, and through different signals.

But they all did manage, and then the ‘fun’ part started, of making the ‘future worlds’. This part was done by the teams with significantly lesser issues than in our average session – surprise, surprise, and what else one would expect from the student studying design?

All three world-presentation were good, and in one we’ve seen a special gem, when the team decided not only to present, but to enact the future – obviously a much more powerful, but also much more changing way to work with the possible futures:

All in all, it was a good session (though I had to leave earlier and missed the presentations of the ‘future probes’). I later got a feedback that the students enjoyed the events and some of them may even use it in their own course projects. All good.

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