Designing for the Future: From Singapore in 2050 via Copenhagen, « à la co-creation »

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 12:53

24 November 2050. Singapore. Planet Earth. ICSID Conference opening. The meta-interplanetary meeting of designers

Alok Nandi

icsid_copen
ICSID World Design Congress 2009 Singapore and Co-Creation, Copenhagen, August 29 2009

Arnold Wasserman, the Master of Ceremonies at this unique gathering, invites the audience to cast their minds back to 2009, for a « flash-back » to how designers and experts envisaged society at that time: examining their projections for 2050 will offer key insight into what has happened in the last 40 years, and show what can be learned from the past.

Remember? At the beginning of the 21st century, the first I of ICSID (the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) stood for « International » and the second I was « industrial ».

Now, in 2050, the first I is for « Interplanetary », while the other is for « information » or « interaction » or « interface ». In a world where screens are multiple and spaces are hyper-immersive, in a world where each human being has more than 1000 CU (computing units – called « personal computers » at the end of the 20th century), design has been and is still being radically redefined around the big question: « How can design improve life and create prospects for the future ? » This is a question that needs to be asked again and again, as there are no easy answers. Even in 2050.

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Panels and parallel sessions at the ICSID World Design Congress 2009Singapore

So what about 2009 ? Back then ICSID’s approach was viewed as innovative: thanks to scenarios and visualisation studies were revealing issues related to societal, environmental or business concerns, or a mixture of these. It was a troubled time : there were problems with the climate, and various questions of a political and financial, economic and ethical nature. The planet Earth was clearly in crisis.

Protest movements were getting increasingly insistent . The COP15 Conference on Climate Change attracted more than 16000 participants, discussing the future of the « blue sphere ». But not a lot came out of that mega-gathering. A few months before COP15, Copenhagen Co’creation, a two-day workshop in the context of Copenhagen Design Week 2009, gathered about hundred designers and experts. Small meetings of experts, big political meetings, massive activist meetings, all addressing one and the same question, how to improve life on earth.

The co-creation approach, namely involving the user in the design process, applied both in Copenhagen) and at Envisioning Design in 2050 in Singapore, with exercises of prospective imagination (or Scenario Design) was based on a paradigm shift in the process of conceiving, designing, making.

With co-creation, one does not work « for » the client, the user, the customer, but « with » : the focus is on the mechanics of usage definition, of potential usage. Iteration, revision, production, over and over. The innovation approach is constantly challenged and reviewed. Co-creation requires a change of attitude, of mindset, based on no longer seeing design merely as a tool or a method.

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Congress exhibition and parallel sessions at the ICSID World Design Congress 2009Singapore

This brings us back to the Singapore event, where the concept of co-creation was omni-present in attitudes to launch new visions and prototypes to explore 2050. The face of Singapore, its urban interface and its agri-industrial infrastructure were redesigned, in terms of everyday life, by nine design leaders, who addressed sustainable development, health, life after 60, transport, urban agriculture, …

Chris Bangle (previously head of design at BMW), and now based in Italy, looked at what a car means and its core function, hence mobility and transportation. As a counterpoint, the team of Bill Mitchell at MIT media lab proposed visualisations showing how cars could « morph » according to usage situation, shortening for parking, or stretching to offer more passenger room.

But what kind of space will we be moving in ? Essentially urban space : the architecture bureau WOHA, led by Wong & Hassell, engaged in a detailed prospective study involving different media such as newspaper, tv news, … all enacted in 2050. They produced an edition of a newspaper dated November 24th, 2050, enhanced with maps detailing the different areas of Singapore with its wave farms, wind farms, solar powered buildings, … This was echoed by investigations by Toshiko Mori Architects from Japan, ARUP, Foster + Partners who shared and discussed their visualisation investigations, variously contradictory, fragmented, euphoric, pessimistic, …

In this shifting, often unstable context, we also had to think about entertainment and leisure. This was the turn of designer Feng Zhu, just back from Los Angeles (and zinging with Hollywood style), who looked at video games and films too. It was post-reality TV with a Hollywood flavour, and naturally immersive and intuitive !
For a taste of what entertainment could be in 2050: it’s going to involve suspending your disbelief.

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Toshiko Mori, Bill Mitchell, Stefano Marzano, ICSID World Design Congress 2009Singapore

One thing we cannot suspend, on the other hand, is the issue of food and health aspects. Protofarm 2050 was led by South Africa’s Design Indaba leader Ravi Naidoo. He brought in five design collectives to share their visions related to culinary mechanics in 2050: Dunne & Raby from The Royal College of Art, showed augmented bodies (with digestive functions taking place outside of the body) while 5.5 Designers from Paris presented a guide that described a bag for catching rats in subways and tips and tricks for gathering urban plants, among other things… Which leads us to the last study on health presented by Stefano Marzano and his team from Philips Design.

One could spend hours on each of these studies, which set out to raise some big questions, and these prospective visions were debated with the skilful moderation of Paola Antonelli, senior curator at MOMA in New York in charge of architecture and design.

The conversations were triggered by various plenary talks devoted to the place of technology, local initiatives, public interventions, energy usage and ageing population issues, connected to the broad, open field of design. With its holistic complexity, design is not only fascinating but also vital in terms of exploring possibilities for the future.

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9 Responses to “Designing for the Future: From Singapore in 2050 via Copenhagen, « à la co-creation »”

  1. Marcia Caines says:

    December 23rd, 2009 at %I:%M %p

    Designing for the Future: From Singapore in 2050 via Copenhagen, « à la co-creation » http://tiny.cc/ofDtj

  2. Marcia Caines says:

    December 23rd, 2009 at %I:%M %p

    Designing for the Future: From Singapore in 2050 via Copenhagen, « à la co-creation » http://tiny.cc/ofDtj

  3. Daniel Egger says:

    December 23rd, 2009 at %I:%M %p

    RT @MCaines: Designing for the Future: From Singapore in 2050 via Copenhagen, « à la co-creation » http://tiny.cc/ofDtj

  4. boaz abel says:

    December 23rd, 2009 at %I:%M %p

    Cluster | City – Design – Innovation » Designing for the Future: The face of Singapore, its urban interface and it… http://bit.ly/5Kd8Pu

  5. architempo says:

    December 23rd, 2009 at %I:%M %p

    just published today by Cluster http://tr.im/Isla

  6. alok nandi says:

    December 23rd, 2009 at %I:%M %p

    RT @Architempo:just published today by Cluster http://tr.im/Isla

  7. Architempo /~ alok b. nandi design.architempo.net » Blog Archive » Cluster Article says:

    December 23rd, 2009 at %I:%M %p

    […] Just published this Dec. 23rd 2009 on Cluster. A nice way to close 2009 and work on 2010. Thank you Cluster. Article on Cluster […]

  8. boaz abel says:

    December 24th, 2009 at %I:%M %p

    Cluster | City – Design – Innovation » Designing for the Future …: The face of Singapore, its urban interface an… http://bit.ly/82zwiB

  9. Cluster | City - Design - Innovation » Designing for the Future … | Drakz News Station says:

    December 24th, 2009 at %I:%M %p

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