Design futuring is an tactic that borrows from science, science fiction, literary and fairytale traditions, poetry as well as from of illustration, art, cinema and the imaginative landscape of human endevour. It combines a set of divergent and deductive thinking tools to create agile and flexible capabilities around the tackling of radical forward thinking. To understand this tactic we look at 2 methods that complement different styles of thinking, design fiction and scenario building. 

As a counter to the fantasy-laden future worlds generated by our industry, I’d like to propose a design approach which I call ‘The Future Mundane.’ The approach consists of three major elements, which I will outline below.

  1. The Future Mundane is filled with background talent.
  2. The Future Mundane is an accretive space
  3. The Future Mundane is a partly broken space.”   —Exerpt form article by Nick Foster, The Future Mundane

Future propositional scenarios from students:  The class exercise involved working in groups of two to create a scenario that predicts home 3D printing  in 10 years time. This is informed by the knowledge of the last 10 years to understand and recollect how change happens. The narrative is framed around a persona and builds in both old and new technology.


The Future Mundane is filled with background talent

It’s 2025, cars are more economical with petrol engines getting smaller and a lot more efficient. Electrics cars are now more popular with most companies offering at least two electric engine options with each of their different models. Cars are now a lot smarter and assist the user more to the point where drivers have very minimal input. “At what point does driving become less of a skill and more of a task?”

Peter/Panayiotis Kyprianou


The Future Mundane is an accretive space

It’s 2030, Because of the popularity of online shopping more and more people are beginning to buy everything online from meals to big purchases like houses. People are beginning to spend more time inside and only go outside for things that can’t be done online like exercising or going to a park. “With the internet having more of a presence in our domestic lives, will we ever need to go outside in the future?”

Peter/Panayiotis Kyprianou

The Future Mundane is a partly broken space

It’s 2035, Rental, sharing and subscriptions based services for everyday objects like appliances, transport and even clothing have become the norm with people owning less products outright but still using the same number of products, if not more. “Does this add or take away value from things we actually own and will we lose the ability to save money?”

Peter/Panayiotis Kyprianou


Design fiction is a  kind of authoring practice that combines the traditions of writing and story telling with the material crafting of objects. While this may or may not always address the future – it is an excellent way to kickstart future thinking around objects and provocations.

1. Fact and Fiction Swap Properties. … fact and fiction are anchorages for a bridge of continuous variance between the two. Nothing holds fast and there is plenty of continuous traffic back and forth. ….fact and fiction are pretty well tangled together despite every attempt to keep them distinct.

2. Fiction follows Fact.  science fiction is inextricably knotted to science fact —IN the film Minority Report and the mutual, simultaneous speculations about gesture-based interaction at the human-computer interface. David A. Kirby’s notion of the diegetic prototype provides a principle for understanding the ways in which science fact and science fiction always need each other to survive. In many ways, they are mutually dependent, the one using the other to define its own contours.

3. Fact follows Fiction. …. the complicated interweaving of science fiction ideas, idioms, aspirations and tropes that mutually and simultaneously shape science genres.

Read the complete fabulous essay Here

Julian Bleecker, A short essay on design, science, fact and fiction.

Scenario building is a way to generate shared visions within a large system of actors.

A scenario sketches future technologies that will help users do the things they want to do. A scenario blends a carefully researched description of some set of real ongoing activities with an imaginative futuristic look at how technology could support those activities better

(Bonnie A. Nardi, The Use of Scenarios in Design)

The main focus of a scenario may be

  • Environmental
  • Biological
  • Social
  • Political
  • Economic
  • Technological

Scenarios it may be framed around differing levels of intended response

  • Impossible
  • Possible
  • Plausible
  • Probable

– FOOD takes a provocative and unconventional look at areas that could have a profound effect on the way we eat and source our food 15-20 years from now. These investigations, like other probe projects, examine the possible consequences of various (long-range) social trends and ‘weak signals’ emerging from the margins of society. In the case of food, this involved tracking and interpreting issues like the shift in emphasis from curative to preventative medicine, the growth in popularity of organic produce, implications of genetic modification, land use patterns in growing what we eat, the threat of serious shortages, and rising food prices. The result was an extension to Philips Design’s ongoing design probes program with three new projects; Diagnostic Kitchen, Food Creation and Home Farming.

Phillips Design Probes: One kind scenario making

fractal: Fractal is ‘living jewellery’ as it has a range of behaviours that are stimulated by muscle tension and proximity. Performance sensing technologies enable integrated LED light to detect changes in the wearer’s muscle tension and movement, as well as the presence of people in close proximity, and respond by pulsing. Traditional LED lighting can be cold and uninviting but Fractal uses materials to diffuse, focus and filter the light, giving a warmer, soothing lighting experience.

Stellarc – provoking ideas around the human body

Scenario designs for Blade Runner, Syd Mead

Design your own personal flying taxi and you could win $2 million

Traffic is bad, Uber is annoying, and you might get hit by a bus if you ride a bike. Why not get from point A to point B in your own flying taxi? Although personal short-haul aircraft are something of a pipe dream, there’s clearly interest in getting them in the air. That’s the theory behind The GoFly Prize, a $2 million competition announced today that seeks to inspire the design and creation of “personal flying devices [for] the masses.”

Sponsored by Boeing, the competition urges teams “to leverage recent advances in propulsion, energy, lightweight materials, and control and stability systems to make the dream of personal flight a reality.” To be eligible for prizes, teams’ flying taxis should be usable anytime, anyplace, and by anybody. They should be “safe, ultra-compact, quiet, urban-compatible” and be able to fly one person up to 20 miles without refueling or recharging. They also need to take off and land vertically.

Registration for the contest is open now. Entrants will go through numerous phases, with a grand prize winner expected to be announced in two years.DT