Future Human by Design – Futures Thinking from a Designer’s Perspective

This project originally set out to explore the need for Futures Thinking in Humanitarian Scenarios and to explore this need from a Designer’s Perspective.

I realised early in the research process, to fully appreciate the overlaps in the research area I needed to investigate each of the following areas of enquiry; Futures Thinking in Humanitarian Scenarios, Futures Thinking and Design Thinking, Designers using Futures Thinking and Mindfulness Practice for Design Leaders. The blog is live. It is a work in progress, with more research and new areas of enquiry coming up, including the important aspect of Philosophy of Design, and Design Studies specifically.

The original purpose for this research project was to investigate the use of Futures Thinking in Humanitarian Scenarios from a Designer’s Perspective – this subject area relates to my Masters elective module that I took earlier this year – Design Thinking in Humanitarian Scenarios, where I was looking at Anticipatory Systems for cascading events in urban environments, and mental resilience for Humanitarian Workers through Mindfulness.



Exploring the overlapping areas of Design Thinking and Futures Thinking


I hadn’t intended such a large undertaking for the Design Leadership course module. However, it is important for me to fully flesh out ideas to properly investigate this subject area. To do this, a blog framework seemed an ideal medium. It allows me to centralise the project in an environment that can be controlled, and grow, I can categorise themes and combine topics as needed.

I also required a platform that allows ideas to evolve as knowledge deepens, new leaders emerge, topics diverge and converge, and implementation in the field adapts; and so FutureHumanbyDesign.com (FHbD) was created.


What steps would you take to start learning about Futures Thinking?


Through an anonymous survey I conducted I found a majority of designers with significant experience (~10+ years) were eager to learn more about Futures and how it can be applied in their design practice. Yet for the majority Google Search was the way they would learn. Not finding a central location of information on the topic, I felt FHbD could fulfil this need, by collating and curating the diaspora information in this research area.

The FHbD site will allow a continual refinement of ideas and exploration of topics and, hopefully, a useful repository for designers looking to learn and implement Futures Thinking in their practice.


Future Plans for the Project

There are plans for ongoing work on the blog including interviews that are in the process of being organised. More case studies on Speculative Design work. As well as seeking out other experts and firms that operate in the cross over of fields.

Another concept for creating engagement on the site is to emulate Stuart Candy’s Thing from the Future game as a weekly online challenge. Initially just for myself but I can open it up to other participants if there’s interest. But it is a process I will undertake publicly. This will, I hope, assist in establishing a new professional network for me.