nearfuturelaboratory   22

An Ikea Catalog From The Near Future – Design Fictions – Medium
[Never bookmarked?]

"In September, the Near Future Laboratory conducted a workshop with the Mobile Life Center and Boris Design Studio in Stockholm. Our workshop brief was to consider an Internet of Things future, but with a twist: the Internet of Things seen through an Ikea Catalog.

Why did we chose an Ikea catalog? Because it is one of the more compelling ways to represent normal, ordinary, everyday life in many parts of the world. The Ikea catalog contains the routine furnishings of a normative everyday life. It’s a container of life’s essentials and accessories which can be extrapolated from today’s normal into tomorrow’s normal.

The process of our workshop was to use Design Fiction, a practice we’ve developed at the Near Future Laboratory that combines pragmatic hands-on production of material assets — in this case, graphic design production of a print catalog — with micro-scale science, technological and social fictions contained in the product descriptions, ancillary texts, disclaimers, footnotes and annotations.

The Design Fiction approach requires one to follow a series of claims about the world through as deeply as possible. For example, our claims to say that the near future world we were representing would have ‘smart’ ‘connected’ technologies needed to be as thorough as possible given our 1-day schedule. We needed to propose dozens of representations of such, throw out most, iterate on the one’s we found compelling and then find a plausible, visually engaging way to represent them with all of the constraints and rules one applies to catalog production. Each proposition from each of the working groups had to ‘stand up’ to our own scrutiny. Names of things weren’t enough. Each group had to describe the artifact or service as if they were pitching a new product. This is the work that seems to be rarely done when an IoT future is trumpeted in vague, hyperbolic press releases, keynotes and ‘reports.’ A bad PowerPoint slide with some loose text about ‘a future of connected kitchens’ and $1 trillion market for IoT simply would not work.

For example, our extrapolation of an Ikea kitchen has the things you might imagine (and have been “demo‘d”) in a near future IoT world. Cooking instructions appear dynamically on countertops, complete with anecdotes meant to keep the cooking experience lively — and likely complete with subtle opportunities to make a purchase of a fancy cutting knife, or book a reservation to the country from which the recipe is derived. The micro-fictions embedded in the catalog are where our Design Fiction makes subtle suggestions about how the near future may be a bit different from today.

For example, implying new economic contexts that were an aspect of the design brief can be done in subtle ways, such as peculiar regional disclaimers, odd explanatory iconography, subscription pricing models for furniture as the ‘new normal’ — in our near future, an Ikea kitchen is ‘self-subscribing’, a peculiar, eyebrow-raising neologism meant to suggest a new weird context of exchange dreamed-up by some near future product people in which our near future selves are comfortable with smart technologies that somehow know what’s best for us.

In the end, our Design Fiction Ikea catalog is a way to talk about a near future. It is not a specification, nor is it an aspiration or prediction. The work the catalog does — like all Design Fictions — is to encourage conversations about the kinds of near futures we’d prefer, even if that requires us to represent near futures we fear. While we’re fans of the ‘catalog’ as a Design Fiction Archetype (cf TBD Catalog), we’ve also done Quick-Start Guides, Newspaper Supplements, Reports on Modern Life & Rituals, bespoke Design Fiction Field Reports for clients, all as ways to enter into a discussions about our future."

[available here: http://mobilelifecentre.org/sites/default/files/Design_Fiction_IKEA_2015.pdf ]
2015  ikea  designfiction  speculativedesign  speculativefiction  internetofthings  iot  nearfuturelaboratory 
february 2017 by robertogreco
How design fiction imagines future technology – Jon Turney – Aeon
"As technological choices become ever more complex, design fiction, not science, hints at the future we actually want"



"Design fiction’s efforts to create imaginative realisations of technology, which consciously try to evoke discussion that avoids polarising opinion, have a key ingredient, I think. Unlike the new worlds of sci-fi novels, or the ultra-detailed visuals of futuristic cinema, their stories are unfinished. Minority Report is not about critical design because its narrative is closed. In good design fiction, the story is merely hinted at, the possibilities left open. It is up to the person who stumbles across the design to make sense of how it might be part of a storied future."



Design fiction’s proponents want to craft products and exhibits that are not open to this simplified response, that fire the imagination in the right way. That means being not too fanciful, not simply dystopian, and not just tapping into clichéd science‑fictional scripts. When it works, design fiction brings something new into debates about future technological life, and involves us – the users – in the discussion."



"As design fiction comes to be recognised as a distinctive activity, it will continue to find new forms of expression. The US design theorist Julian Bleecker of the Near Future Laboratory suggests that the TBD Catalog with its realistic depictions of fictional products models a different way of innovating, in which designers ‘prototype and test a near future by writing its product descriptions, filing bug reports, creating product manuals and quick reference guides to probable improbable things’. The guiding impulse is to assist us in imagining a new normality. Design and artistic practice can both do that.

Design fictions are not a panacea for some ideal future of broad participation in choosing the ensemble of technologies that we will live with. Most future technologies will continue to arrive as a done deal, despite talk among academics of ‘upstream engagement’ or – coming into fashion – instituting ‘responsible research and innovation’. The US Department of Defense, for instance, and its lavishly-funded, somewhat science-fictional Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has an extensive catalogue of research and development (R&D) projects on topics from robotics to neural enhancement, selected according to a single over-riding criterion: might they give the USA a military advantage in future? DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office tells us, in a ghastly combination of sales talk and bureaucratese, that it is ‘looking for the best innovators from all fields who have an idea for how to leverage bio+tech to solve seemingly impossible problems and deliver transformative impact’. Here, as in other fields, military, security and much commercial R&D will probably go its own way, and we’ll get weaponised biology whether we like it or not.

For the rest, though, there is a real contribution to be made through a playful, freewheeling design practice, open to many new ideas, and which is technically informed but not constrained by immediate feasibility. There are already enough examples to show how design fiction can invite new kinds of conversations about technological futures. Recognising their possibilities can open up roads not taken.

Design fiction with a less critical (and more commercial) edge will continue to appeal to innovative corporations anxious to configure new offerings to fit better with as yet undefined markets. Their overriding aim is to reduce the chances of an innovation being lost in the ‘valley of death’ between a bright idea and a successful product that preys on the minds of budget-holders.

But the greatest potential of this new way of working is as a tool for those who want to encourage a more important debate about possible futures and their technological ingredients. This is the debate we’re still too often not having, about how to harness technological potential to improve the chances of us living the lives we wish for."
design  designfiction  2105  jonturney  technology  science  participatory  future  complexity  debate  futures  potential  howwelive  lcproject  openstudioproject  darpa  scifi  sciencefiction  change  nearfuturelaboratory  julianbleecker  tbdcatalog  fiction  prototyping  art  imagination  tinkeringwiththefuture  paulgrahamraven  alexandraginsberg  christinapagapis  sisseltolaas  syntheticbiology  alexiscarrel  frederikpohl  cyrilkornbluth  margaretatwood  anthonydunne  fionaraby  dunne&raby  koertvanmensvoort  hendrik-jangrievink  arthurcclarke  davidnye  julesverne  hgwells  martincooper  startrek  johnunderkoffler  davidkirby  aldoushuxley  bravenewworld  minorityreport  jamesauger  jimmyloizeau  worldbuilding  microworldbuilding  thenewnormal 
march 2015 by robertogreco
For the Walker Art Center, a Shop That Peddles Evanescence - NYTimes.com
"Visitors to the gift shop at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis will soon be able to buy something a little more esoteric, alongside their Chuck Close posters and Pantone mugs. “On Mother’s Day,” the promotion might go, “how about a new ringtone calibrated by the composer Nico Muhly, just for stressful family calls?”

Maybe Dad or Sis would enjoy an instruction manual for a technology that has yet to be invented — or, to unwind, a vacation property with a short commute, on the virtual network Second Life. Even more accessible is a series of images from the photographer Alec Soth, sent via Snapchat and meant to disappear moments later.

These items are all wares from Intangibles, a conceptual art pop-up store that the Walker, the contemporary-art and performance center, plans to unveil on Thursday. Created by Michele Tobin, the retail director of its gift shop, and Emmet Byrne, the museum’s design director, it is in equal parts a digital bazaar with pieces priced to sell, and an exhibition, of sorts, with curated original artworks.

It upends the logic of a regular shop. “The priority isn’t ‘get as much as you can for that item in the marketplace,’ ” Ms. Tobin said. “The priority becomes the artist’s intention and what we all think is right for that work.”

Sam Green, an innovative documentary filmmaker, will charge $2,500 to create a hybrid video-performance piece specific to the buyer. The ringtone compositions by Mr. Muhly, the modern classical arranger and musician, are $150 each. The Snapchat photos by Mr. Soth, the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim fellowship, are priced low at his request — $100 for 25 of them.

In the tradition of Conceptual art, documentation of the process is part of the point. “A lot of people won’t be purchasing actual products,” Mr. Byrne said, so “we want the online representation to be just as compelling as the objects themselves.”

The Walker sees Intangibles as blurring the boundaries between art, shopping and media. It’s hardly the first such effort: Eliding commerce and art, mass and high culture, was in vogue long before the advent of Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, the SoHo store that sold clothing and other items with his work from 1986 to 2005. (It still operates online.) This month, Red Bull Studios, a gallery and performance space in Chelsea, opened the Gift Shop, its own artist-led store. But to have a museum shop peddle ideas, rather than artsy T-shirts or coveted décor, is a digital-age twist.

The experiment is also an acknowledgment that artists, especially those well versed in technology, are more comfortable in entrepreneurial roles. Where it once might have been anathema, or at least deeply uncool, for an artist to consider marketing and audience engagement — let alone inventory codes — salability and consumer savvy are now frequently embedded in original work. And not necessarily at the behest of art dealers or curators; as artists engage with potential collectors via Instagram or YouTube, they are becoming shrewd digital marketers and self-promoters. And there seems to be no shame in that.



The work of Martine Syms, a multimedia artist based in Los Angeles who explores identity, race and communication, is exhibited more often than sold; she refers to herself as “a conceptual entrepreneur” who creates “machines for ideas,” a riff on Sol LeWitt’s vision of Conceptual art. “I think of entrepreneurship as a way of creating value,” she said.

That sentiment was echoed in a more alarmist tone by the critic William Deresiewicz in a recent essay in The Atlantic titled “The Death of the Artist.” It’s no wonder, he suggests, that so many “creators” these days work in multimedia. “The point is versatility,” he wrote. “Like any good business, you try to diversify.”

For Ms. Syms, 26, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago who supports herself through freelance graphic design work, multimedia is simply a language she grew up speaking, and digital tools are a source of freedom. She has worked with galleries but is happy to showcase her work online or in do-it-yourself publications. The traditional gallery system “doesn’t give you a lot of control over your work or your audience,” she said.

“Especially for myself, a woman of color, I think that a lot of times, these systems aren’t really interested in what I’m doing or what I’m saying,” Ms. Syms added. “A lot of times, I would rather create my own world.”

For Intangibles, Ms. Syms will perform in the guise of her fictional one-woman band, Maya Angelou, on the voice mail of her buying public; the piece will be accompanied by an online blurb about the so-called band, which has yet to record a note. Ms. Syms said she didn’t want to deal directly with her customers — “I feel I’m already bad enough on the phone” — and that she likes the evanescence of voice mail, which is often automatically deleted after a certain period. (In “Surround Audience,” the current New Museum Triennial, she also has a room-size installation dealing with the shifting norms of sitcoms.)

That many of the items for sale in Intangibles are interactions rather than objects does not surprise Christine Kuan, chief curator for Artsy, the online art platform. With the growing commercialization of the art world and daily life ever more tethered to devices, “people want life experiences and memories that aren’t mass-produced for consumption, that are special and created by an artist,” she said. “It’s a kind of consumerism that is a little bit of anti-consumerism.”

Mr. Soth, whose photojournalism has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, views Snapchat as a way to engage with the changes in photography as a medium. “For me, it’s about stopping time, documenting the world, preserving it,” he said in a telephone interview from his home in Minneapolis. His 12-year-old daughter was nearby, glued to her cellphone and, he said, “communicating, as we speak, in pictures.”

For her, photography is “simply conversation,” Mr. Soth said. “And I think that’s fascinating and terrifying.”

An early adopter of many new technologies who has also started a small publishing imprint — “I either dabble with these things or I just say, ‘My time’s over’ ”— Mr. Soth, 45, explained why he didn’t want his work for Intangibles, called “Disappear With Me,” to be expensive. “When it’s less about economics, I feel freer to experiment,” he said.

Proceeds from the projects will be split between the artists and the museum. A few artists, like Ms. Syms, deferred to the Walker on pricing, which in some cases gave the organizers pause: how to assign a monetary figure to a brief message from the ersatz singer of a fake band? Ultimately, said Mr. Byrne, the design director, “we really thought that sticking to the logic of the marketplace would add some rigor. And we also knew that we are giving a better profit-share rate than galleries.” (The voice mail messages are $10 each.) Many of the artists involved said they were in it less for the money — though they viewed that exchange as a necessary part of the deal — than for the creative inspiration. The designer and engineer Julian Bleecker and the Near Future Laboratory, a research company that typically charges thousands of dollars for corporate consultations, will produce briefs on items that do not yet exist (some future antibiotic’s warning label, for example, for $19.99) — what he called “design fiction.”

There are a few literal objects, like the extra parts and doohickeys that end up in a junk drawer, marketed as “Box of Evocative Stuff,” but Mr. Bleecker said the project was mostly a conceptual provocation “to get a larger public audience to think more deeply about the implications and conveniences of new technology.”

“I’m hoping that, with a commitment of $19, we’ll have a conversation,” he said."
walkerartcenter  nearfuturelaboratory  alecsoth  2015  designfiction  art  design  intangibles  emmetbyrne  micheletobin  martinesyms  entrepreneurship  museums  museumshops  shopping  commerce  media  culture  highbrow  lowbrow  andreasangelidakis  architecture  julianbleecker  adamharvey  speculativefiction  criticaldesign  conversation  newinc  snapchat  performance  interaction  christinekuan  artsy  identity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
CURIOUS RITUALS | Gestural Interaction in the Digital Everyday
[Direct link to the PDF: https://curiousrituals.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/curiousritualsbook.pdf ]

[See also: http://nearfuturelaboratory.com/projects/curious-rituals/
https://vimeo.com/92328805 ]

"URIOUS RITUALS is a research project conducted at Art Center College of Design (Pasadena) in July-August 2012 by Nicolas Nova (The Near Future Laboratory / HEAD-Genève), Katherine Miyake, Nancy Kwon and Walton Chiu from the media design program.

This research project is about gestures, postures and digital rituals that typically emerged with the use of digital technologies (computers, mobile phones, sensors, robots, etc.): gestures such as recalibrating your smartphone doing an horizontal 8 sign with your hand, the swiping of wallet with RFID cards in public transports, etc. These practices can be seen as the results of a co-construction between technical/physical constraints, contextual variables, designers intents and people’s understanding. We can see them as an intriguing focus of interest to envision the future of material culture.

The aim of the project is to envision the future of gestures and rituals based on:

1. A documentation of current digital gestures
2. The making of design fiction films that speculate about their evolution

For more information, please contact nicolas (at) nearfuturelaboratory (dot) com

“Curious Rituals” was produced as part of a research residency in the Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California."
nicolasnova  danhill  julianbleecker  gestures  technology  curiousrituals  2015  nearfuturelaboratory  katherinemiyke  nancykwon  waltonchiu  postures  rituals  designfiction  ritual 
march 2015 by robertogreco
8-bit reggae project
Links to several 8-bit reggae tunes at the end of the post.
music  8bit  reggae  nicolasnova  nearfuturelaboratory 
november 2013 by philgyford
Bruce Sterling on Fantasy prototypes and real disruption | NEXT Berlin
[video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7KErICTSHU ]

"In the closing keynote of NEXT Berlin 2013, acclaimed science-fiction author and journalist Bruce Sterling tackled a variety of topics like design fiction, start-up culture, and the mass adoption of disruptive technology. He sees science fiction as a form of design – design fiction that is part of the start-up world."
brucesterling  anabjain  superflux  nearfuturelaboratory  designfiction  disruption  design  networkedsociety  2013  nextberlin  nextberlin2013  protoyping  future  sciencefiction  scifi  capitalism  startups  money  culture  startup 
april 2013 by robertogreco
PLAY Stories: To Be Designed
"On Oct. 1st- 3rd, 2012, a group of designers, makers and technologists gathered in Detroit to collectively imagine and produce a piece of design fiction: a catalog of products from the future."

[See also: http://tobedesigned.nearfuturelaboratory.com/ ]
design  designfiction  tobedesigned  tbd  aaronstraupcope  brucesterling  cezannecharles  chriswoebken  christiansvaneskolding  emmetbyrne  jamesbridle  johnmarshall  julianbleecker  karldaubmann  marcgreuther  marcusbleecker  mokapantages  mickfoster  micolasnova  raphaelgrignani  tombray  maganmulholland  zackjacobson-weaver  2012  nearfuturelaboratory 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Julian Bleecker: The Future Never Gets Old — The Gradient — Walker Art Center
“I have personally been interested in the overlap of design and speculation for a while, but inviting Julian out in the context of the IWG posed a new set of questions: how can an organization like the Walker embed speculative practices into its workflow, how is interdisciplinary experimentation already inherently speculative, and when should our institution embrace a process that is not necessarily results-oriented—or at least, not in the typical sense? Speaking of mundane . . .”

[Related: Julian Bleecker on ‘Undisciplinarity’ https://vimeo.com/7196709 ]
julianbleecker  designfiction  future  futures  futurism  design  williamgibson  longtail  walkerartcenter  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarydesigngroup  emmetbyrne  susannahschouweiler  2012  nearfuturelaboratory  making  storytelling  lcproject  openstudioproject  undisciplinarity  doing  scifi  sciencefiction  innovation 
april 2013 by robertogreco
News from the Executive Suite, Los Angeles Bureau | Near Future Laboratory
"they are projects and they reflect the more complete aspects of the Laboratory as a practice. They are a reflection of our additional interests, curiosities and explorations. Some of them are exercises of a more proto-professional nature, to explore ways of studying the world around us, short probes into a field of practice about which we want to understand by doing rather than by idle observation. In sum, they represent ways that the Laboratory is always curious, always learning, never set or fixed in what it does and how it does it. This makes me understand the Laboratory as a practice. A bit like a studio. But, I understand now even more as we grow and as more people join in, that it is better to communicate the multivalent character of the Laboratory through more aspects of what we here do.

There are no “side projects” in this practice. There are we all who are always following our curiosities."
julianbleecker  2013  projects  creativity  curiosity  curiosities  nearfuturelaboratory  learning  howwelearn  glvo  understanding  learningbydoing  observation  iteration  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Labs: Designing the future -MaRS News & Insights | MaRS
"In the spirit of a creative, open innovation system, the Lab is a structure that not only thinks, but also does. Traditionally a place for scientists to test hypotheses that lead to potential breakthroughs, the Lab has been re-purposed to address elusive “wicked problems” in society. In this version (sometimes called the innovation, design or change Lab), substitute the scientific method with design thinking as the rigorous and repeatable protocol; swap beakers and Bunsen burners for sticky notes and white boards; and shift from single expertise to multifaceted expertise (usually representing a combination of business, design and humanities – in MaRS’ case, add science & tech as well as entrepreneurs of all sorts).

In these Labs, teams are experimenting with alternative solutions to real-world challenges such as water sanitization, carbon neutrality and age-friendly societies. And just like scientific breakthroughs, when these solutions succeed, they are game changing."
lcproject  openstudioproject  2012  lisatorjman  timbrown  mindlab  inwithfor  australiancenterforsocialinnovation  agelab  slowlab  sitra  businessinnovationfactory  ideo.org  ideo  harvardilab  mitmedialab  medialab  helsinkidesignlab  nearfuturelaboratory  d.school  innovation  multidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  laboratories  labs  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
New Aesthetic // OOO // Future of Things | Near Future Laboratory
"It’s the symptom of the algorithm. It’s what comes out of the digital-political-economy of cultures that live by networks and the machinary (soft/hard/hashtag-y) that underpin it all. All this #newaesthtic #ooo #futureofproduction stuff is the excess. The unexpected, unplanned for result. It’s the things that happen without one self-consciously *going after* #newaesthetic / object-oriented ontological / future of network connected things sensibilities." A calm, rational, open-ended commentary from Julian. I liked this point.
newaesthetic  ooo  julianbleecker  nearfuturelaboratory  serendipity 
april 2012 by infovore
A Screen-y FutureScape-y 2025 [Near Future Laboratory]
"At some point the VFX animation of planar tracked surfaces simply jumped the shark and now people do it cause they can. The VFX have determined the design. That’s bad design. Doing it cause you can, not cause you should.

And that, friends, is why we end up with a world of screen-based interactions."
ux  interactiondesign  touchscreen  specialeffects  planartracking  nearfuturelaboratory 
april 2012 by thoughtwax
Convenience | Near Future Laboratory
"The newspaper is called Convenience and it’s based on the hypothesis that all great innovations and inventions find their way into the Corner Convenience store. Take for example, the nine we selected to feature in the newspaper, amongst a couple dozen:

AA Battery (Power)
BiC Cristal Pen (Writing)
Eveready LED Flashlight (Light..and laser light!)
Durex Condom (Prophylactic)
Reading Spectacles
Map (Cartography/way-finding)
BiC Lighter (Fire)
Disposable Camera (Memory)
Wristwatch (Time)

It’s a hypothesis designed to provoke consideration as to the trajectory of ideas from mind-bogglingly fascinating and world-changing when they first appear to numbingly routine and even dull by the time they commodify, optimize and efficient-ize…"

[Follow-up post: http://nearfuturelaboratory.com/2012/03/04/corner-convenience-near-future-design-fiction/ ]
nickfoster  rhysnewman  nearfuturelaboratory  nicolasnova  2012  cornerconvenience  electricity  power  writing  vision  glasses  cartography  wayfinding  fire  cameras  memory  time  wristwatches  batteries  maps  innovation  inventions  technology  commodification  convenience  design  julianbleecker  designfiction  from delicious
march 2012 by robertogreco
Sound Should Just Come Out Of It | Near Future Laboratory
Here’s the thing. I’m making a little tiny audio device. It’s tiny and meant to be simple to use. Like Russell taught me — the thing about audio? You should be able to just turn it on and sound comes out.
audio  hacking  nearfuturelaboratory  from instapaper
february 2012 by onigiri
Portals by Jayne Vidheecharoen — Kickstarter
"More specifically, my Portals will consist of a pair of boxes. Each box has a screen on the front and a gateway on the side where you can reach in with your hand. Through the magic of green screen your hand instantly appears to be in the virtual real-world of Google Streetview. And since you and your objects are now in this parallel world, real-world rules can be broken. For instance, a regular object from the real world could appear animated in this virtual one. These boxes are also connected to the internet which means you could share the space with other people. Here's some videos of where the current prototype is at right now (you can check out my thesis blog for more information too)."

[See also: http://nearfuturelaboratory.com/2011/11/27/introducing-jayne-idheecharoen/ ]
realvirtual  virtualreal  2012  2011  interactive  portals  kickstarter  jaynevidheecharoen  nearfuturelaboratory  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
Near Future Laboratory » Innovation and Design
"The practice of design can happen without a formal set of processes and steps. Although it may be comforting to say — here is our process, here are its steps — instrumentalizing design in this way will lead to nothing more than what one expects, which is oftentimes not a particularly astonishing innovation. It will lead to things congruent with what exists “today” and thus never “radical” and even, arguably, consistent enough with the old stuff to barely count as new. The radical innovation by definition cannot have a formalized process. No post-it design. No PowerPoint decks. The less involvement from process-oriented and goal-oriented actors, the better. If your goal is to create something new, you can’t also expect to make something that profits because that is the same old goals"
julianbleecker  design  innovation  books  nearfuturelaboratory  designthinking  undisciplinary  howto  business  gamechanging  tcsnmy  strategy  disruption  disruptiveinnovation 
october 2009 by robertogreco

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