What is the Future of Design Education, Design Practice and The Role of Design in Society?

Presented by: Aaron Kadoch

Question What are the future learning, working and lifestyle patterns that designers are responsible for envisioning, planning and pioneering? This inquiry is relevant for students, educators, practitioners and the general public to lead and envision design’s future as a collective network with common trends, goals and outcomes. What emerges from research is a future where digital and physical environments resemble and incorporate nature symbiotically with a shared emphasis on experience, social interaction, electric energy, information and data design, materiality and natural resources (Fig. 1). Yet how do design leaders integrate these ingredients formally and functionally? This research is based on literature and case study review of Futurist theory and praxis. Three panelists will present the main components of Futurist applications; History and Theory, Current Trends, and Design Practice. Research Transformational Leadership Theory , sets a contemporary stage from which to look at the future as a cognitive process that leaders can collaborate towards “global trends, challenges and opportunities to advance innovation.” A central aspect of leadership theory is to inspire a shared vision. Designers are inherently equipped with the tools to imagine and communicate such work. In addition, there is a historical tradition of futurist philosophy and practice in the arts. The early Italian Futurist Filippo Marinetti, published in 1909, a revolutionary vision of society tied to energy and electricity, machines and movement. Artists translated this into spatial experience. Benedetta Marinetti’s, Speeding Motorboat, shows space-time as a physical environment (Fig. 2). In a contemporary interior design, The CloudDCS facility exemplifies the “Cloud” in real space visually and experientially, merging theory and practice (Fig. 3). Today’s leading futurists Dr. Ray Kurzweil and Dr. Michio Kaku predict similar forms of exponential acceleration related to Moore’s Law with “disruptive” cultural transformations as depicted by Marinetti. Tony Siba’s Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation is a predictive model showing a new energy-living pattern. The Wiki House (Fig.4), a changing paradigm for the entire construction industry is an outcome of Moore’s law and built on Siba’s prediction. Market drivers like Google’s Nest and Apple are banking on the future of home innovation as part of an interconnected grid, however design research and development is still needed to align technology with human needs . Conclusion New processes yield new realities within historical patterns and we must be aware of such forces in order to act as effective design leaders within contemporary networks to promote “Design Intelligence.” According to “Live, Work, Play in 2025,” A study of trends presented by Gensler, six dispositions emerge, consistent with future looking research and practice. They are Embracing our iHumanity, Designing for Time and Space, Leading Smarter Lives, Scaled Resilience, Urbanity, and Cities as Innovation Engines. (Fig. 5) Such forecasts act as a framework for individual and collective actions within a progressive society.


  • Humphreys, R. 2001. Futurist Manifestos. MFA Publications. Boston.
  • Northouse, P. 2016. Leadership Theory and Practice. Sage. Thousand Oaks, California.
  • Design Futures Council, 2016. http://www.designfuturescouncil.com/
  • Interior Design Magazine’s “Big Ideas” issue (Interior Design, March 2016, p. 180) Photo by Dennis Lo. Text by Katherine Shaw.
  • “2015 State of the Smart Home Report.” 2015. Icontrol Network.