The Future of Human Creativity in Design

Trevor Haldenby Kelvin Kwong Martin Ryan

The Future of Human Creativity in Design Definitions Scanning the Horizon Introducing Drivers and Blockers Drivers Blockers Introducing Trends (Toolsets and Mindsets) Trends (Toolsets) Trends (Mindsets) Critical Uncertainties and the Matrix Uncertainties into Scenarios The Empathetic Civilization Design Deity Technocracy iCreate Signposts Implications Wind-tunneling Exclusive Worlds and Design Toolsets Exclusive Worlds and Design Mindsets The Danger of Exclusivity The Uncertainty of Inclusivity Strategies Build Your Own Tools (Re-design Design) Drop Out of School Jailbreak Design Conclusion Biographies References 2 6 17 18 20 28 32 34 42 52 54 57 61 65 69 72 73 75 78 80 81 84 86 89 93 97 100 104 107

This project documents and unpacks learning in the domain of scenario generation by OCAD University graduate students Trevor Haldenby, Kelvin Kwong, and Martin Ryan. Undertaken over ten weeks in the midst of a two-year MDes program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation, the project explores the relationships between creativity and design in a compelling and educational way. Zooming in on the drivers and trends shaping our chaotic and increasingly interconnected world, the project utilizes them to extrapolate forward ten years and imagine four scenarios of what it might mean to work as a design professional in 2021. While the project represents an attempt to wrap our heads around a very complex and philosophical domain, the team had advice from expert faculty and researchers at OCAD University’s Strategic Innovation Lab and Digital Futures Initiative; as well as mentorship from Tom Wujec, an Autodesk Fellow and globally renowned thought-leader in organizational creativity and innovation. For more information about OCAD University’s research programs in Strategic Foresight and Innovation, please visit:

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The Future of Human Creativity in Design
To enter or emerge from design school in the 21st century is to step into the fray of a chaotic creative renaissance.
In a global culture and market characterized by complex interconnection, economic inequality, massive advances in technology, and tectonic shifts in cultural values, IBM’s 2010 Global CEO Survey found that no factor appears more crucial to the planet’s CEO’s in terms of ensuring future success than creativity. The borders existing around what was only recently christened the “creative economy” seem to be in perpetual expansion, and ideas around design seem to be written about everywhere; whether your preferred reading material consists of business blogs, academic journals, or The Onion. As a discipline, design appears well on its way to a lasting symbiotic alignment with all things creative. Design’s cross-disciplinary modeling of the creative process and existing affiliations with the artistic realm position it as the specialization to beat, and designcentric business success stories from Apple to IDEO are cementing that reputation. But is this surge in design’s popularity and reputation sustainable? How many of today’s young designers will find gainful employment upon graduation from North America’s design schools... and how many expect to move forward with their careers in a relatively predictable world laden with opportunities, in spite of the uncertainty boxing us in on all sides? Millennials; individuals born between 1980 and 1990, raised on the Internet, and lumped together by William Strauss and Neil Howe’s theory of generational demography; are the population from which tomorrow’s design professionals will emerge. If you are a design

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student or emerging professional amongst the Millennials’ ranks, then we’re glad you’ve made it this far – you’re the audience we wanted to reach out to with this project. The challenge will be yours to seek economically gainful, personally meaningful, and broadly beneficial employment in the midst of the 21st century. Whether you see yourself working independently, for a creative consultancy like Frog, with a design advocacy group like the AIGA, in an academic institution like OCADU, or at a design toolmaker like Autodesk, there are forces colliding that threaten to smash the very foundations of your strategy. This project is about taking a look at trends and driving forces in play in the world of design, and reading between the lines in order to imagine what their impacts might be on the world of 2021. A decade may not seem like a long time, but keep in mind how different the world of 2001 was from the world of today. Homeland Security was not any more than awkward jargon, iPods were something to snort at unless you were a Mac user with significant disposable income, and Lady Gaga was best known as a gawky teen with a walk-on role in The Sopranos. The dot-com bubble had just burst, and no one was really sure if the Internet would sustain another year, let alone decade, of growth and evolution. How different will the world of 2021 be from the world of 2011? Will industries that derive value from a designerly approach to creativity thrive, collapse, or morph into forms unrecognizable? Will creative roles once filled exclusively by experts be occupied by smart systems that do a better job of analyzing the world than any human could? Will massive changes in who does design and how it is done impact how we understand human creativity? If you are a design student today, these are the questions that could keep you up at night for the rest of your career. But they are also questions that you can start to think about today.

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Creativity is:

“ the process of having original ideas that have value”
– Sir Ken Robinson


Before beginning our exploration into the complex world of today and our visions of the future, it is important to step back and establish clear definitions for a few key terms we are going to be spending plenty of time exploring.
Creativity and design are complex and interconnected areas of focus; the former usually thought of as a character trait or abstract concept, and the latter often contextualized as activity undertaken in the creative services sector. The following definitions, inspired by some of each field’s most prominent and provocative thinkers, map out the borders of the territory that our project explores.

Creativity “ Imaginative activity fashioned so as to produce outcomes that are both original and of value”.
– Sir Ken Robinson One of the most straightforward definitions of creativity is rooted in the 1999 report of the United Kingdom’s National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education, chaired by Sir Ken Robinson, renowned thought leader and advisor on the topic of education and creativity. “Imaginative activity fashioned so as to produce outcomes that are both original and of value”. In that same document, and many others in his oeuvre, Robinson also suggests a metaphorical approach to considering creativity: as a bridge between imagination and innovation. Visualize a chasm with a bustling commune of idealists and visionaries perched on one side, and a metropolis of three-piece-suited economists and entrepreneurs on the other. If imagination is the ability to envision something original in the mind’s eye, and innovation the ability to implement real-world market solutions stemming from that vision,

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Toolsets + Mindsets

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Industries that Value Design


industrial engineering

marketing radio


economics fine art
research and development

software development




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then creativity is the bridge of activity spanning the distance between these two worlds; the set of activities that transform ideas into meaningful products and services. It is important to remember in the chaos of excitement around imagination and innovation that new ideas are only as good as the products that deliver them to social markets, and meaningful innovations only as original as the novelty of the visions from which they have spawned. Sir Ken Robinson sees creativity as important and relevant within multiple social and organizational frames of reference. To the individual, creativity is empowering and rewarding – enabling synthetic connections to be made in the mind between learned ideas and personal experiences. To organizations, creativity is crucial – wealth and employment opportunities are generated out of the new connections made within and between businesses, providing benefit not only to shareholders but to the broader population as well. To societies, creativity represents the mechanisms by which connections are made between people of different value systems, cultural backgrounds, or even nations. Sir Ken Robinson sees creativity as important and relevant within multiple social and organizational frames of reference. To the individual, creativity is empowering and rewarding.

Creativity is therefore ultimately about connection – the connection of visionary ideas to real-world change, the connection of people and institutions to one another, and the connections between daydreams and innovative solutions.
If creativity is defined as activity that transforms imagined ideas into real-world innovations, then how do we define design? An important first step is to consider the way in which design, as a discipline, represents an outlet or venue for creativity. All of those who identify as designers; architects, graphic artists, user experience experts, and webmonkeys; work in what are increasingly being referred to as creative industries, a term popularized in John Howkins’ book The Creative Economy. While these industries may not identify as siblings (or even cousins) of the design discipline, all of them make use of creative toolsets and mindsets similar to those of design in order to generate value.

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Designers are far from the only professionals focused on creativity. Economists, linguists, research and development experts, software engineers, and teachers are all intensely interested in how to bridge the proverbial gap between imagination and innovation. But designers have a unique attribute on their side, one that helps them stand out from the bustling crowd of disciplines and industries concerned with creativity: the portability of their approach to creativity in their profession. What seems to be crucially important about design, particularly at this complex and interconnected phase in history, is that its core toolsets and mindsets are suitable for application to all manner of business and organizational challenges; within and beyond the much-touted creative economies of advertising, fashion, software, music, and film. In the same way that Stewart Brand famously said that “information wants to be free”, design’s approach to creativity could be seen as wanting to be broadly relevant and cross-disciplinary.

Creativity Meets Design
What seems to be crucially important about design, particularly at this complex and interconnected phase in history, is that its core toolsets, and mindsets are suitable for application to all manner of business and organizational challenges While design may not be the largest or most well-defined of the creative industries, its members are unique in their frequent dualcitizenship. Design scholars and researchers have spent much of the last century exploring how and under which conditions “good” design occurs across creative industries and disciplines; as well as how to tease out lessons from design’s approaches to problem framing and solving for the benefit of distantly related systems within and around which design practice is nested. In Nigel Cross’ 1972 paper Designerly Ways of Knowing, he posits that three core cultures underpin humanity’s attitudes towards innovation. The three cultures Cross identifies are the sciences, the humanities, and design; each in turn possessing a unique phenomenon of study, cabinet of methods, and set of values. While Cross sees science as affiliated with the study of natural phenomena, and the humanities aligned with the realm of the human experience, he singles out design as a culture dedicated to the study of the artificial world – the world we make for ourselves. In terms of methods, design is presented as “owning” modeling, pattern-forming, and synthesis; and when it comes to values, Cross frames design as embodying practicality, ingenuity, empathy, and a concern for appropriateness.

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While Designerly Ways of Knowing was written almost 40 years ago, it was not the first attempt to map out the domain of design. And it certainly was not the last. The late 20th and early 21st century have been characterized in terms of design scholarship by an explosion of models for design methods and process. Numerous ideologies compete for prominence in the design community, and we focused our research and consideration on one of the most popular and controversial at present – “Design Thinking”. Formalized as an ideology over the course of the latter half of the 20th century, Design Thinking represents a systematic structure intended to keep empathy, idea generation, and analysis in balance throughout any creative problem framing-solving activity. Stanford University’s Institute of Design, the, suggests that a sevenstep non-linear process of understanding, observation, point-of-view projection, ideation, prototyping, and testing best maintains the balance between design thinking’s three core responsibilities. After consulting, comparing, and boiling down many of the values and processes associated with Design Thinking and other creative ideologies, we have synthesized a list of toolsets (practical methods utilized in the creative process), and mindsets (core orientations structuring the way one perceives the world) that make up the backbone of design’s creative approach.

Here is another way to think of the duality between toolsets and mindsets: toolsets are the things a designer uses, and mindsets represent a designer’s values and what he or she wants to do.

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what I do I explore human experience I uncover and share insight I reframe problems I facilitate collaboration I generate ideas I look for patterns and trends I visualize to make sense I make prototypes I test my ideas what I use HCD research methods, participatory methods Metaphor, writing, graphic design story telling facilitation techniques, drawing and mapping brainstorming secondary research, analysis software sketching, graphic design tools, PowerPoint storyboards, paper, foam, CNC, 3D printers using simulators, user testing, beta testing

who am I I am creative I am curious I am human-centered I take risks and provoke what I want to think in systems to integrate knowledge to iterate everything to seek genuine value

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What stands out about the toolsets and mindsets of design is that few of them are endemic to design as a discipline – they did not originate with design, and they are not limited to use within its borders. Many have been imported from neighbouring disciplines including systems thinking, anthropology, engineering, and ecological science. All are tools or values that designers lean upon in addressing problems and opportunities creatively. Many of the items in these lists can also be transplanted to various creative industries (and beyond) for benefit in innovation, communications, or organizational learning.

Design toolsets and mindsets are opportunists, ecologically speaking, adapting to different creative challenges and contexts of use in the creation of value.
But the tools and values of design are by no means immune to influence from driving forces playing out across broad social, technological, economic, environmental, and political spectra. Look no further than the philosophical, methodical, and material design changes that have resulted from relatively modest shifts in cultural values towards sustainability for an example of how influence on design tools and mindsets can come from outside of design. With these connections in mind, we will move into an exploration of how various trends and drivers influence design tools and values in ways that could create uncertainty in 2021 for 2011’s students and emerging design professionals.

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Signal An event that indicates or signifies the presence of a trend.

Trend A significant pattern that affects a wide range of people and that has, or will eventually have, broad social, economic or political implications.

Driver A systemic force that lives underneath multiple trends, and influences their trajectory and ultimate expression.

Blocker A systemic force that has the potential to actively block the expected trajectory of a trend or driver.

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Scanning the Horizon
In this section we present to you slices of the world as it is seen to be evolving today. To do so we have followed a foresight process and model called “scanning”. The process of scanning involves a rigorous analysis of the changes (trends) occurring “at the margins” and at the heart of our subject matter.
In addition, scanning involves the identification of relevant systemic changes (drivers and blockers) that could shape a trend’s ultimate expression within a ten year timeframe. We have paired formal definitions of drivers, blockers, trends and signals through the metaphor of the iceberg, which is often used to help visualize the interconnection between all four levels of the scanning process. Signal An event that indicates or signifies the presence of a trend. Trend A significant pattern that affects a wide range of people and that has, or will eventually have, broad social, economic or political implications. Driver A systemic force that lives underneath multiple trends, and influences their trajectory and ultimate expression. Blocker A systemic force that has the potential to actively block the expected trajectory of a trend or driver.

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Introducing Drivers and Blockers
Our scanning process uncovered seven critical drivers of change and four critical blockers. They are identified below using the STEEP-V framework (Social-Technological-EcologicalEconomic-Political-Values). They have been chosen for their relevance to the evolution of creativity, design, or both.
In order to make further sense of these changes, each driver and blocker has been mapped based on its perceived certainty or uncertainty within a ten year timeframe. This process helped to visualize a dynamic that was otherwise implicit in our thinking: the comparatively stable trajectory of techno-social drivers relative to drivers associated with values, politics and economics. This fundamental difference was carried through the development of our scenarios.

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Open Access to Education (Social/Technology) Urbanity (Social) Amazing Complexity and Connectivity (Social/Technology) Infinite Computing (Technology)

Shifting Creative Values and Identities (Values)

Global/Mass Collaboration (Social/Technology)

Era of the Interface (Social/Technology)




Resource Scarcity (Environment)

Intellectual Property Wars (Economics) Economic Inequality and Unrest (Economic) Fragile Net Neutrality (Technology)

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Amazing Complexity and Connectivity (Social)
According to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, we create as much information every two days as we did from the dawn of civilization up to 2003. That equates to something close to 5 exabytes of data every 48 hours, almost 28 billion CD-ROMs. More and more of the data produced in the past decade is “user generated content” taking the form of pictures, videos, and tweets. But it is not only our ability to produce information and content that enables this amazing data complexity, it is our increasingly hyper-connected world and methods of communication. Our desire to produce content is increasingly fed by our ability to share it across networks, creating virtuous cycles of information production and diffusion. ARPANET, the Internet’s military predecessor, connected 113 nodes in 1975. By 2001 the Internet was connecting over 120 million hosts. At present, the IPV4 system of allocating addresses to over 4 billion clients is being exhausted, and the IPV6 protocol taking its place will be able to allocate more than 340 undecillion nodes, though many of them will not be computers in any traditional sense. Even in the production of something tangible, our world increasingly requires “global collaboration” throughout the process. As a result, we are often overwhelmed by what is available to us in terms of consumption and connection. Collectively, we are struggling to find meaning and clarity amongst “the mess” of information in our networks, resulting in information paralysis. Our ability to make sense of these complex and interconnected networks will continue to have a significant impact on the human experience as well as design practice. We are entering a future where anyone who can distill clarity or derive value from this chaos, designer or otherwise, will play a critical role.

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Open Access to Education (Social)
With massive advances in online access and available bandwidth, it is becoming as free and easy to learn as it is to connect and collaborate with others. People are becoming less and less dependent on formal educational paths and structures in the pursuit of relevant skills and knowledge, and in the face of academic inflation – the rising level of institutional education that graduates are required to demonstrate in order to secure a career. High quality educational wares are increasingly being made freely available online to all that wish to pursue them. As a result, barriers based on gender, income or location are rapidly decaying. This shift is not only the result of a technology push, but also of a shift in the values of citizenry who are increasingly feeling the effects of academic inflation in most developed societies. Careers that once required a high school diploma now widely require undergraduate degrees, and specialized positions increasingly require graduate or post-graduate certification from a handful of expensive and elitist institutions. This is fueling the rise of open learning, where passionate youth are increasingly choosing to grow their skills and prove their worth outside the boundaries of ivory towers, and even in the virtual world of the web. We are starting to see large multi-national corporations like Google, Apple, and Netflix change their hiring practices to favour the demonstration of skill and previous project work over the acquisition of institutional pedigree. These organizations are starting to capitalize on a class of talent that has constructed its own educational path to cultivate talents, develop skills, and solve problems in the real world. In a world where high-quality tools exist to facilitate learning about almost anything, and where economic systems value skills and portfolios over pedigree, students and emerging designers will need to be able to establish certain credentials through traditional institutional paths and others through open learning and other emergent alternatives. The mixtures of educational backgrounds and styles in tomorrow’s workforce will likely be as diverse as the students themselves.

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Urbanity (Social)
Within the last decade, the human race has gone through an amazing demographic transition. For the first time in recorded history, more people are choosing to live in urban environments than rural ones. The UN Urbanization World Prospects projects that between 1900 and 2030, the percentage of humanity transitioning to life in an urban environment will surge to over 60% – nearly 5 billion people. But just as in earlier periods in history, the transition to city living, while beneficial, is not always easy. Diverse cultural, ethnic, and professional groups are living shoulder-to-shoulder; often for the first time; and new innovations and conflicts are emerging like arcs of static electricity between proximal surfaces. The smaller footprint of urban areas has also necessitated the emergence of whole new approaches to design, planning, and collaboration. But there seems to be little opportunity for slowing down and measuring the impact of these changes. Some cities are expanding structurally, such as Shanghai, in which over 400 skyscrapers have been built in the historic core since 1990 alone; while others, like Toronto, are diversifying culturally, with at least 50% of the urban population now comprised of visible minorities and people born outside of Canada. The impacts of these massive changes in urban demography, planning, and design are extremely uncertain. Exactly what comprises the “magic formula” that enables diverse individuals and groups to productively and creatively collaborate is a matter of some contention. Whether democratic politics, open data, or something as seemingly simple as green space will prove to be the key that unlocks futures founded on sustainable urban living, one thing is sure. The growth of urban populations isn’t slowing down.

Some cities are expanding structurally, such as Shanghai, in which over 400 skyscrapers have been built in the historic core since 1990 alone.

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Era of the Interface (Technology)
We are creating, collecting, and interacting with data in exciting new ways – and the portals through which these experiences are framed are called interfaces. Steven Johnson explains in his book Interface Culture how “19th century culture was defined by the novel, 20th century culture was defined by the cinema, but the culture of the 21st century will be defined by the interface”. This shift has been occurring since the introduction of the first video game systems and microcomputers 35 years ago, and accelerated by GUI interfaces and innovations from the Macintosh to Windows Phone 7. The interfaces of today are increasingly rich and usable compared to those of the 1980s; and they are continually evolving, making complex tasks and information sets simple and approachable. We are quickly learning to master new informational and graphical metaphors, and even developing them ourselves using tools like Hypercard (on the desktop), Flash (on the web), and most recently the iOS SDK (mobile). We are increasingly comfortable customizing and tweaking the personal interfaces of our computers, smart-phones, and other digital lifestyle devices. Information interfaces are leading a shift from passive consumption to active curation, and through their simplicity and flexibility we are all gradually becoming junior information architects. It can be argued, however, that our interface culture has placed excessive emphasis on graphical elements and metaphors at the cost of the textual and human understanding. Regardless, the interface is where the 21st century citizen is increasingly living, and it remains to be seen if design trends will follow today’s interfaces. Or if new and unexpected interface innovations will continue to evolve out of adaptations to design’s toolsets and mindsets.

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Global/Mass Collaboration (Social/Technology)
We live in an age of increasingly complex and global communication and collaboration, where value can be generated and diffused without the necessity of formal institutions. These collaborative efforts are springing up across industries and fields; for profit, for civic value, and for fun. In the past century our tools, media and industry helped us get very good at consuming, but today our tools increasingly enable us to do more than consume – we are also able to create and share, two basic human drivers. What has helped this happen is the cost of communication, which has dropped through the floor while available computational power has gone through the roof. Mass collaboration is also fueled by the shift from institutional ownership of value creation, to user ownership. For example, the development of “tagging” by is an example of how user-generated value and masscollaboration have resulted in a more meaningful way to catalogue and share information. CAPTCHA technology is also being re-purposed to digitize books, with 750,000 individuals all over the world translating one word at a time across formats, contributing bit by bit to the digitization of 2.5 million books a year. Critically, these new collaborative social networks build cooperation into their structure and systems, and in doing so shed the institutional burden of controlling and explicitly planning the process. This is a primary benefit of large emergent and collaborative systems. These systems work based on “power law distributions” (the 80-20 rule) rather than organizational bureaucracy that pushes for efficient

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New collaborative social networks build cooperation into their structure and systems, and in doing so shed the institutional burden of controlling and explicitly planning the process.
but consistent contribution from “employees”. Mass-collaborative platforms create their value by given voice and power to the single user with a single good idea – a value that institutions are not structured to capture in a profitable way. These frameworks have given new voice to “lead-users” and “pro-ams”, people who do something for the love of it, but perform to very high standards. They have the tools, the knowledge and the passion to cultivate explosive instances of disruptive innovation, while existing outside institutional frameworks. Clay Shirky, an information theorist, argues that these crowd platforms will become increasingly effective at tapping into our “cognitive surplus” – the trillion-plus hours of spare time that individuals on the planet today possess – unleashing it in ways that ultimately create more value for society. These collaborative tools are ultimately lowering the barriers to participation on global projects and complex problems – closing the gap between doing nothing and doing something. By turning users into producers and designers, these open collaborative models effectively multiply our productive resources, and they do so without the externally imposed limits of institutional frameworks. How will traditional institutions and organizations (unlikely to vanish any time soon) respond to this shift? This driver suggests that we will see the emergence of new hybrid institutional models that encourage participation in open collaborative structures while maintaining other, more traditional, institutional attributes. If the institutional collaboration of over 100,000 people was able to get an astronaut to the moon, what might we be able to do when we can coordinate the efforts of 100,000,000?

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Infinite Computing (Technology)
There has been an exponential increase across technology sectors in the computing power (processing, storage and bandwidth) available for use – with each new year producing more computational capacity than the sum total of all previous years, often in the form of new devices. At the same time, there has been a decrease in the costs to individuals and businesses to access this power through “the cloud”, personal computers and so-called Post-PC devices – making the surge in computational capacity potentially accessible to larger and larger populations. As we move towards a magnificent (or underwhelming) singularity, and the capacity of networks or individual computers nears the theoretical computational capacity of the human brain, we can expect that more and more decisions and workflows previously reserved for humans will become the responsibility of machines. Already, we can see some critical and once exclusively human decisions being made by computers; from trades on the stock market to the flight-plans of drone and consumer aircraft alike. This driver is poised to have a significant impact on the world of design, but its ultimate expression will depend on how we should to harness increased computational power, and how well we are able to ensure that its uses reflect our cultural values.

We can expect that more and more decisions and workflows previously reserved for humans will become the responsibility of machines.

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Shifting Creative Values and Identities (Values)
Creativity is a cultural force, value creator, and popular attribute to feature on your CV. However, the current mainstream definition of creativity focuses almost exclusively on the products it spawns, and the genius creator who wields it. Creativity researchers such as Robert Sternberg and Richard Coyne have illustrated how our relationship with creativity and the perceived accessibility of a creative identity is dominated by stereotypes (i.e. artist, designer and eccentric) and romantic ideologies that exalt “the genius”. In essence, creativity is popularly portrayed as something done by special people, in special places, resulting in special ideas – that we, the consumers, benefit from passively. This is a framework that leads to policy like the R&D Park, where groups of special people can convene in special places to make special things. But while there are signs this framework is beginning to change within the mainstream, in particular within the demographic of the the millennial generation, it still lags behind the inclusive ideologies championed by the collaborative domains of art and design – and exemplified by Design Thinking. Despite our growing understanding of the “creative class”, we continue to live in a world where only some feel capable of selfidentifying as creative and are accepted as such in their personal and professional communities. This age-old framework seems to be in an increasing state of flux as a result of the accessibility of creative content production technologies and participatory processes. The “creative class” is widening in the shadow of creative tools available to the masses. This shift is slowly surfacing within business and organizational cultures as well. Every two years IBM conducts a massive qualitative and quantitative study of 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries and 33 different industries – all in the name of better understanding the zeitgeist of global business. The 2010 study produced landmark conclusions in the context of creativity. For the first time in the study’s history, “chief executives believed that – more than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision – successfully navigating an increasingly complex world would require creativity”. Our relationship with creativity is clearly changing; but it remains uncertain whether this shift will result in a new and more inclusive framework or a new rationale for the exclusive framework that already exists.

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Fragile Net Neutrality (Political/Technology)
The Internet began as a largely unregulated environment that anyone with online access could participate in. As use of the Internet has become a part of the fabric of Western society and its economy, some individuals and organizations have taken advantage of people less skilled in processing and negotiating online communications. This has increased calls for governments to regulate and control aspects of the Internet to protect the general public from online predators and copyright criminals alike. While many consider these laws similar to those already in existence to protect the general public in the physical world, it can also be argued that this power play for control of the Internet gives governments new options when it comes to monitoring and manipulating populations. Agencies such as the US Department of Homeland Security and governments like China’s routinely monitor and control certain aspects of the Internet in an effort to control the population itself. China’s regulation and control of the Internet is on the rise, the country having recently created a new central agency (The State Internet Information Office) to surveil every corner of the nations Internet community with the aim of suppressing dissidents and other social critics. New debates are emerging in the US about the regulation of the Internet, and whether the FCC has the legal right to regulate parts – and users – of the Internet that it identifies as dangerous. While it currently seems likely that the US will maintain an open Internet, other global powers are making different choices, including Russia, Iran, and China. Even in France, once considered a stronghold of freedom, the HADOPI laws with their three-strikes approach to unplugging copyright offenders have been entrenched in the legal system. Will risks to public safety, market stability, or corporate interests force the rest of the Western world down similar rabbit holes?

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Economic Inequality and Unrest (Social/Economic)
The world is currently in a period of economic and social turmoil, kick-started by the housing crash and perpetuated through the extreme frailty of our financial markets. The European debt crisis, symbolized by Greece, is mirrored in the US by an $11 trillion national debt and a political system in perpetual gridlock. To date, policy actions to alleviate this crisis have focused on large monetary bailouts, whether the recipient is a bank “too big to fail” or an entire country’s economy. While these bailouts are paid with tax dollars, cuts and breaks for the wealthy in the name of a “trickle-down” benefit seem only to have perpetuated a system of inequality and instability. Meta-analysis done by Richard Wilkinson has shown for the first time the effects of income equality in developed societies’ psychosocial well-being. In countries like the US, where economic and educational inequality is pronounced; we see an increase in many common societal ills including infant mortality, homicides, imprisonment, teenage births, obesity, and mental illness; and a decrease in social value generated by improved life expectancy, literacy, trust, and social mobility. The more unequal the economic situation, the worse countries do on report cards comprised of all of these factors. The United States, depending on the category, is now two to ten times more unequal than some other developed market economies like Japan, Finland, Germany and even Canada. Richard Wilkinson remarks that at present, if Americans want to live the American dream, they should probably move to Denmark. One result of such inequality and instability is an overall increase in general social dysfunction and unrest. As economic inequality becomes more pronounced within developed countries around the world, we are seeing social dysfunction transition into social upheaval in the form of protest movements like the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto, and Occupy Wall Street – a movement that has generated global resonance in over 180 cities. Although we have new insight into the mega drivers of social well-being that demonstrate how we can improve the quality of human life by reducing income differences, the world agenda continues to be led by political and economic systems that do not operate this way. It is hard to imagine that the next ten years will be a decade characterized by social or economic stability. What will define this oncoming period in history may have more to do with how firmly the populations within inequitable societies stand up to that inequity and themselves begin the task of designing a more inclusive society.

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Intellectual Property Wars (Economic)
On the global stage, major shifts have already occurred in the IP landscape due to a surge in patents recognized in Japan, South Korea and China; and a decline in patents granted within the US. Research and development activities and patent filings in Asia are rapidly increasing while the US seems to be becoming more selective – choosing to focus resources only on those patents that appear to be valuable innovations or marketable breakthroughs. Beneath this numbers race is a heated battle between the proponents of open innovation and the forces of closed patent control. The dominant strategy to ensure competitive sustainability is to be the first to create, buy or fortify a maze of patents that discourage competition from entering a defined space – this is often referred to as patent thicketing. Originally, patent law was meant to be a way to incentivize innovation and disseminate information, but through the popularity of patent thickets, patents are increasingly used to discourage innovation and protect monopolies – exemplified by universities, technology conglomerates, and pharmaceutical companies that actively lobby for more rigid IP systems for the protection of their highly profitable big ideas. Industries that rely on the coming-together of multiple patents in the development of a new innovations, such as in software and technology, are starting to hack away at the practice of patent thicketing. Firms like Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook are actively trying to weaken patent law so that patent thickets can be more easily navigated or ignored. But both of these corporate points of view seem to ignore the elephant in the room – the user. Four thousand patents hold little value unless you know how the consumer will understand and value them in world that is becoming increasingly difficult to predict and protect from disruptive user innovations. The emerging argument for a shift away from strict IP law and towards open-source intellectual property development is gaining traction as the only way to encourage ongoing innovation in monopolized industries. It is difficult to say whether we will see a meaningful change in IP law in the coming decade, but if it does come it will likely be in part because of an explosion of success stories tied to open-source innovations led by collaborative user development.

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Resource Scarcity (Environment)
The massive rise in global economic prosperity, however characterized by inequality, in the last few centuries has been almost entirely on the back of non-renewable resources. We use oil and oil derivatives to cultivate raw materials for manufacturing, transform them into disposable consumer products, and ship them around the world – and oil is a natural resource that it is already becoming decidedly risky to extract. The Hubbert peak theory, commonly referred to as “Peak Oil”, suggests that the world’s accessible oil reserves are being depleted far faster than they are being renewed, and that while new resources will be opened up by increasingly complex technologies, it will be at a higher and higher cost per barrel. The dark side of the theory is that even the established “low-hanging fruit” reserves of oil globally are often associated with socio-political turmoil from the Middle East to South America. Even Canada’s oil sands, often referred to as a conflict-free resource for the resource-hungry United States, exist within a complex system of global environmental consequences, local health issues, and risky technological gambles. With the products of these oil resources utilized in the manufacture of everything from tires to computers, we are rapidly running out of time to develop feasible alternatives that can replace petroleum in the world’s production lines. But oil is not alone – rare earth minerals from coltan and silicon to neodymium, utilized in the fabrication of technological innovations from the iPhone in your pocket to the batteries in next-generation electric vehicles, are in short supply and are often vulnerable to the same sorts of political and regional quagmires as oil. And that does not even begin to describe the situation we are in as a planetary civilization in terms of drinkable water, or clean air. These resource scarcities may not always generate immediate repercussions, although in many economic and social contexts they do, but the ways in which they underpin whole markets and industries – some would say civilization as a whole – mean that we need to pay them more attention in the medium and long term. There may exist no greater creative and logistical challenge to the future of design than that of replacing the fuels which run our lives with more sustainable alternatives.

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Introducing Trends (Toolsets and Mindsets)
Trends related to human creativity and design are in no short supply, here we have catalogued a list of twenty-four.
To enable a more thoughtful and focused scanning of the horizon we discarded the STEEP-V framework in favour of our toolsets and mindsets framework. This decision was made for two reasons. Firstly, we felt that by exploring the specific qualities and activities within toolsets and mindsets, we would uncover trends related to both creativity and design. Secondly, the toolsets and mindsets framework ensured a degree of focus and specificity that would otherwise be difficult to create for subject matter as broad and abstract as ours. Rather than mapping our trends based on uncertainty, we felt it more valuable to map them based on their perceived pace of change within our ten year horizon. As with the drivers and blockers, the mapping of the trends based on a critical dimension provided valuable guidance as we began to imagine how each trend could express itself in our scenario development. Practically, this lead us to emphasize trends that might evolve more rapidly, while keeping plausibility in mind when representing trends that seem to be evolving more slowly.

Reality Digitized Asian Engineers Biomimicry Composite Value Indicators The Internet of Things   Personal Manufacturing Open Sourcing  Smartphones as Design Tools Design by Numbers Algorithmic Design Renaissance Teams Designerly Coding


Pace of Change


Academic Drift

Design for the 99% Craft Consciousness

Subjective Media Design Thinking™ Certain-need

Time Crunch Aes-pecations


Hacker Culture Expert to Participatory Design

Anti-DT Sentiment  


Trends (Toolsets)

Trends (Toolsets)

Signals •I ndustry leader in design software, Autodesk licenses parametric design tools intended for use across diverse organizations and industries. •H  od Lipson’s team at Cornell University has created a virtual environment in which robot designs compete with one another and adapt through principles of natural selection and Darwinian evolution. •S  pore by Will Wright and Maxis features world-modeling tools that have resulted in over 100 million planetary systems and lifeforms. •B  rian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings feature the beauty of generative artwork and attempt to kindle society’s humility in the face of the “long now”.

Design by Numbers
More designers are involved in the creation and use of software tools providing virtual design environments for the rapid development and iterative testing of numerous variables throughout the design process. Specific criteria can be parameterized, applied to a model, and tested against hundreds or even thousands of different scenarios; saving time, money, and effort. But what is to become of the role of the designer? With increased computing power, creative tools are increasingly being used to generate ideas, rather than using the creativity of an individual. Algorithmic creative tools may be used in artistic purposes, such as generating patterns, or by the economic community to search for ways of increasing wealth.

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Trends (Toolsets)

Composite Value Indicators
Composite value indicators enable design thinkers to model the interactions between seemingly unconnected systemic elements and influences in new and exciting ways. New composite value indicators are emerging that go beyond measuring the efficiency of physical structures or performance of rigidly bordered systems to prompt questions about the behaviour of complex social systems, and our interactions with the technologies and environments around us. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, we must ask ourselves if we are ready for an era in which designed objects and systems not only report on their own performance, but rapidly alter their behaviour in reaction to the results of experiments. Designed objects or systems may even graph their own data against unconventional models and data sets we do not yet fully understand. In essence, the use and concoction of composite value indicators in a world of increasingly abundant data may be an essential part of the designer’s toolkit – enabling a more comfortable stay in the problem definition, research, and learning stages of the design process.

Signals •G  ross National Happiness and Global Peace Index are new composite value indicators that place human values at their core. •H  ans Rosling’s multi-set data visualizations are morphing into Google’s Public Data Explorer. Rosling’s software is featured in TED talks with tens of millions of views. •G  oogle Ngrams breaks bibliometric ground by scanning across thousands of 20th Century texts for certain words and phrases.

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Trends (Toolsets)

Signals •F  orbes Magazine: The Rise of Developernomics. •D  ominant design tools are softwarebased: Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, QuarkXPress, Flash, AutoCAD. •T  he Internet and World Wide Web are becoming dominant communications media, on the backs of designers who wield code and coders who devise elegant designs. •A  ll studios require designers to know how to use computers and applicable software.

Designerly Coding
There is an industry-wide adaptation taking place towards designers that are computer-literate and trained in the use of computer software relevant to their industry. In the past, designers were usually judged based on their artistic ability. They would generate concepts and ideas that other people that were more skilled with a particular talent, such as typographers and draftsmen, would help visualize and produce. As personal computers gained prominence in the 1980s through the 2000s, physical tools that were once in the domain of skilled experts became available as cheap or portable software for everyone. The skills of a photo retoucher were replaced by applications such as Adobe Photoshop. Now, not only are designers expected to be talented artistically, they are also expected to know how to use a myriad of computational and software tools, and to accept the mindsets that may come with them.

Signals •T  he RepRap project has brought the cost of 3D printing technology down to almost $0 by open-sourcing the plans and instructions. •T  he cost of higher-end rapid prototyping machines has dropped from the hundreds of thousands of dollars to the thousands. •R  apid prototyping has already rapidly diversified to fit niches and address needs across industries and disciplines – from homebrew to Hollywood, automotive to academic. •T  hingiverse, Shapeways, Kraftwurx: three revolutionary online hubs for collaborating on and sharing 3D models, printing processes.

Personal Manufacturing
Mass-produced goods are not enough for some people. They want customized goods as well. While the ability to order customized goods is readily available (though extremely expensive), the ability to produce your own machine-made goods gives even greater control (at a lower per-piece price). Three-dimensional printing is sophisticated, but inexpensive computer numerical control (CNC) equipment has become more affordable, to the point that it is now within reach of some individuals like teachers and artists, rather than just engineers and fabricators. With personal CNC and RP (rapid prototyping) equipment, it is entirely possible for an individual to produce singleserving, highly-customized machined goods. This is an advanced form of craft, where customized goods may be hand-made, but it is also a revolution for the mass production of components. Future evolutions of the technology into the digital realm may involve printing custom-formed voxels containing tiny parallel processing units, and environmental sensors, opening up a new revolution in manufacturing.

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Trends (Toolsets)

Renaissance Teams
As the problems we tackle grow more complex, and our understanding of them more interdisciplinary and systemic, the ability for an individual to handle the myriad of information and concepts is becoming increasingly difficult. The idea of expecting individuals with a wealth of knowledge and experience in a variety of disciplines is changing to reflect the value of a group of people with a wealth of knowledge diversified through experience across a variety of disciplines. Collaboration within teams emphasizes creativity, communication, clarity, and awareness of bias and subjectivity. Many ancient scientists were polymaths by today’s standards, able to contemplate notions and derive innovative solutions across disciplinary spectra. But this is changing – the idea of a Renaissance Man is being replaced by the idea of a Renaissance Team.

Signals •I DEO shows how forming teams with members of different knowledge and skills can result in better collaboration and better solutions. •O  CADU starts its new Strategic Foresight and Innovation program with an emphasis on collaborative learning in groups, across disciplinary backgrounds. •V  innie Mirchandani’s book The New Polymath explores case studies of compound innovation, where enterprises have amalgamated experts in diverse fields to secure a competitive advantage. •P  rofessor Donna Cox coins the term “renaissance teams” after conducting a study of how multidisciplinary groups of experts produced the best solutions to complex visualization challenges and projects.

Open Source Success Stories
The ability to build on and improve the work of others that is evangelized by the open software movement is a powerful expression of the inclusive design mindset. As we move forward on the evolutionary path of software – a path that points squarely at cloud computing – we can envision free and open source software taking a variety of roles. The advantage of allowing anyone to contribute to the continual development and improvement of software has greatly reduced costs for users and engineers, sped up development times, and strengthened communities of users. Inspired by the disruptive effect and successes of open source software in the last decade, other software developers may try to mimic the ideology’s strategies and tactics, or adopt open source outright. This is a shift from a software and content world characterized by strict regulations and garden walls, to one characterized by communal sharing and co-creation.

Signals •O  pen source software projects Linux, Webkit, and Android are becoming increasingly popular, often dominant in their respective categories: servers and supercomputing, web browsing, and mobile computing. •O  pen content and intellectual property frameworks such as Creative Commons are growing in popularity, with popular photosharing site Flickr alone hosting more than 200,000,000 Creative Commons-licensed images. •O  ther popular and successful Creative Commons licensed projects include the Arduino computing platform, and Wikipedia.

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Trends (Toolsets)

Signals •B  iomimicry 3.8 sees the ideology evolving to encompass applying learnings from the natural world to man-made systems, as well as forms and mechanisms. •B  iotechnology industries are becoming profitable – finally. •T  he Designer’s Accord: a Kyoto Treaty for design, offering strategies for sustainability to designers across industries and disciplines. •B  iomimicry becomes a popular design philosophy for modeling human industries on nature’s no-waste cycles and systems.

Biomimicry (When Nature Nurtures)
Designers are using lessons learned from natural forms, mechanisms, and systems as inspirational stepping stones towards more sustainable, efficient, and resilient products and services. But can biomimicry help us redesign the more abstract ways in which we design? Many of the core principles of the Biomimicry Group double as nuggets of good advice for design thinkers: be locally attuned and responsive, adapt to changing conditions, evolve to survive. Biomimicry poses interesting questions about the role of sparks of human genius in the design process, versus larger guiding forces of inspiration in the design of all living things.

Signals •T  he explosion in the popularity of smart phones among consumers tied to the popularity of social networking websites. People are able to Tweet their location to friends or find city infrastructure in need of attention (as in Ben Berkowitz’s SeeClickFix app). •C  ar manufacturers build cellular self-diagnosing capabilities into their vehicles that allow information to be sent to a central computer system. •A  dvances in high-end digital rapid prototyping and manufacturing promise to build objects out of microcomputers, rather than inert raw materials. •O  CADU scholar Kate Hartman explores unconventional ways in which technology can help humans interact with environments and inanimate objects through interconnected networks of sensors and feedback mechanisms.

The Internet of Things
Almost every electronic device today has a sensor and transmitter connected to networks, and produces data streams that can go instantly to the Internet. This has allowed people to experience their environment and collaborate synchronously and asynchronously in ways never before thought of in the past. Instant and near-ubiquitous access to the Internet has allowed people to easily understand where they are in a city, when the next bus will arrive, or what the demographic situation of a given neighbourhood. And true to the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, the constant access to the Internet has further shrunk the Global Village.

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Trends (Toolsets)

Algorithmic Design
Originally resulting from the need for processes with which to solve complex mathematical problems, algorithms have permeated the world around us. These methods, utilized in data processing, automated reasoning, and calculation, are breaking out of the world of advanced mathematics and into stock exchanges, GPS units and even cinematic delivery channels like Netflix. With more and more of our decisions, questions, and learning experiences facilitated by these algorithmic assistants, we may need to start asking ourselves more direct questions about whether they are helping us by streamlining logical deduction, or hindering us by degrading our ability to consider even the simplest of problems.

Signals •W  ebsites such as use algorithms to predict and suggest future purchases based on previous purchasing patterns. •3  0+% of all stock trades in the European Union and the United States in 2006 were driven by automated algorithms, according to the Aite Group. By 2009, they accounted for 79% of all US equity trading volume. •N  etflix uses advanced algorithms, and prizes rewarding those who can improve them, to make cinematic recommendations based on perceived user tastes.

Asian Engineers
There has been declining interest in engineering and the hard sciences in the North America for many years. The number of students enrolling and graduating in engineering may also have led to a decline of the number of engineering jobs available. While there has been a decline in the U.S., there has been an increase in the number of engineers in countries with growth economies like those of China and India. While at present one element of this trend is a decline in the rate of “brain drain” from South-East Asia to North America and Europe, in the future it could result in an era of unconventional “brain gain”, when North America and Europe’s best engineers all flock to China and India in order to maximize their potential and gain lucrative careers.

Signals •W  ith fewer engineers, the US is beginning to suffer from poorly designed and maintained infrastructure, as well as a lack of innovative capacity in the hard sciences. Once the world leader in engineering, the US is now lagging far behind. •A  dvanced new fields of engineering are opening up around the world as fast as traditional institutions can offer degrees in them, from biomedical to aerospace •M  ike Lazairidis, co-CEO of RIM, “The number of PhDs China plans to graduate within the next ten years is greater than the entire population of Canada”. •W  hile absolute numbers tell one story, growth comparisons tell another: the number of PhDs China graduated in the last 20 years grew 40%, Mexico 10%, India 8.5%, United States 2.5%, Canada 1%.

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Trends (Toolsets)

Signals •P  oint Cloud scanning technology is able to scan an entire building in three hours. •M  icrosoft’s Photosynth app combines smartphone sensors and advanced cloud processing to transform crowdsourced photos. •R  esearchers suggest that more than 80% of all smartphones will come with high-definition 3D cameras. •C  ave Automatic Virtual Environments (CAVE), developed for creating convincing virtual spaces. •S  econd Life and Habbo are taking hundreds of millions of users into software worlds where they can interact with objects and structures of their own design.

Reality Digitized
One of the tenets of good design is its sensitivity to its context and the systems with which it will interact. Today this need for systemic sensitivity is largely filled by “soft” in-context research methods such as ethnography, that can capture information about the physical spaces and the social dynamics of an environment. But most designers do not have the benefit of this toolkit and experience, creating a need for more mechanistic ways of capturing and analyzing environments. The speed and ease with which we can capture reality – in the form of a high-resolution photograph or detailed 3D model representing an environment or object is making it more feasible to digitize the real world, and design in an extremely detailed virtual environment. Such tools will also have an effect on the iterative processes of design by allowing more designers and stakeholders to experience prototypes or versions of a solution before it is built, or even completed.

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Trends (Toolsets)

Smartphones as Design Tools

Signals •W  alter Murch edits Oscar-nominated Cold Mountain with prosumer Final Cut Pro. •A  pple makes iMovie editing software available for handheld devices such as the iPhone and iPod Touch. •H  igh-resolution camera enabled smartphones have ability to connect to cloud servers. •D  esign toolmakers supplant professional high-margin desktop applications with low-margin mass market tools.

While the explosion in user-centric design software stemming from the desktop publishing revolution of the 1980s was a major and in some cases unexpected trend in the history of computing, it is currently being mirrored in the latest computing paradigm – touch-interface mobile.
While the amount of revenue generated for industry heavyweights like Adobe and Autodesk through the reinvention of advanced content-creation apps on mobile platforms is still small, it may turn out to be marketshare that counts in this new space. A recent report in MIT’s Technology Review revealed that with the release of its SketchBook applications on the iOS platform, Autodesk was able to attract more paying customers in a single year than it had in the previous 29 years of its operations combined. While the first smartphones on the market were clunky and evolutionary steps forward from their less advanced telephonic cousins and early PDAs from Palm and Handspring, the smartphones of today are robust mobile computing platforms; incorporating high-speed always-on data, advanced capacitive touchscreens, and whole ecosystems of software. Critics were still bemoaning the fate of the iPad as a content-consumption device when it was first released, but the wave of applications enabling content creation and curation has overwhelmed all but the most fervent dissenters.

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Trends (Mindsets)

Trends (Mindsets)

Signals •E  xhaustion with corporate success stories such as Proctor & Gamble, General Electric and Apple. •G  rowing list of leading “design thinkers” dissenting from the language and movement. Kevin McCullagh of Plan has recently criticized design thinking as not being developed for the big problems that design thinkers wish to tackle, labeling Design Thinking as old thinking – for new times. •B  ruce Nussbaum has called design thinking a “failed experiment” in a recent Fast Company article and announced a new framework called “Creative Intelligence”. •H  elen Walters of Business Week and Doblin has openly criticized the movement in a number of articles in recent months. •D  on Norman, early champion of the user-centered design argues that “design thinking is a nonsensical phrase that deserves to die”. •K  nown design studios, such as Bruce Mau Design are distancing themselves form the terminology.

Anti-DT Sentiment
After some failed integration and implementation, many businesses and large corporations are becoming increasingly vocal about their experience and criticism of Design Thinking. Many leading thinkers in both design and business increasingly connect with the sentiment that Design Thinking is in fact a “failed experiment”, as it has failed to steer business away from the grips of a recession or take root in their organizational cultures. In addition, large parts of the design community, sensing and in some cases experiencing Design Thinking’s limitations, are growing weary and frustrated by the term.

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Trends (Mindsets)

Academic Drift
Design’s academic identity is increasingly shaped by leading graduate business and liberal arts schools, from Rotman to Stanford, as well as established art and design players. In addition, the principles of design are increasingly being applied in the realm of childhood education, and advocated by a movement seeking to re-balance experience, design and art with the hard sciences in education. Hoping to prepare their students for the 21st century rather than the 20th, the proponents of this movement argue that creativity’s value is demonstrated across disciplines, and that innovations come from integrative thinkers as much as specialists. So far, efforts to import “design thinking” into business and liberal arts programs have been more successful than the inverse. This increasingly marginalizes the role art and design institutions play in defining and charting the academic course of the design discipline. Designers will have to demand that their own institutions evolve and adapt to emerging standards, if they are to maintain their place in the conversation.

Signals •T  he rise of “design management” and “design MBA” degrees within mainstream graduate business schools, including IIT in Chicago, Rotman in Toronto, Stanford, MIT and Wharton. •B  usiness Week’s publication of the top 60 emerging design/business graduate programs outlines a majority of schools importing design rather than importing business. •T  he United Kingdom’s “studio school” movement puts “doing” and designing at its heart. •P  rograms like OCADU’s MDes in Strategic Foresight and Innovation have emerged within an art and design school but with bureaucratic separation from the traditional art and design programs – delivering more of a liberal arts approach than a design approach. •B  ruce Nussbaum recently called for more liberal arts programs around the US to start teaching design thinking, encouraging a shift to what he calls “innovation arts”. •H  ugh Dubberly, czar of creative method-mapping, has recently called for the creation of new Design Education Manifesto.

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Trends (Mindsets)

Signals •P  opular business press on Design Thinking is driven by IDEO (Change by Design) and Frog (A fine line). •B  oeing’s 787 Dreamliner is a quarterbillion dollar product developed through deep consideration of human factors and system-centric approaches to construction. •H  ow might consumer-friendly affiliates of the military-industrial complex internalize design thinking, and what might they return to it in terms of values and process?

Design Thinking™
Although Design Thinking was birthed by traditional design industries and crafts, the term itself is increasingly associated with high-tech product manufacturers and innovation consultancies such as IDEO and MetaDesign. As heavy hitters and innovation leaders in manufacturing, construction, and information technology redefine the borders of design thinking’s application, they also assume partial ownership of the idea. What shifts in terms of design’s toolsets and mindsets might result from their stewardship by large corporations rather than poorly connected clusters of craft-practicing professionals? What roles might design advocacy groups like the AIGA and RGD play in shepherding this handover of stewardship from craftspeople to big corporate?

Signals •I nnovation consultancies are turning the venture capital start-up model on themselves. Anomaly is an example of a new and growing class of design consultancies who is not only consulting for clients, but building and bringing to market their own products and services. •T  he design-centric success of crowd-sourced funding platforms such as Kickstarter. At least half the website’s large projects – those that have received $100,000 or more in financing – have been design-related. For example, the success of Tiktok (a wristband that turns an iPod Nano into a watch) motivated more designers to leverage the platform and spun off a myriad of copycat designs sold alongside the original. •I n the context of economic uncertainty, traditional financing and venture capital avenues are becoming more conservative and largely inaccessible to smaller untested ideas intended for niche markets. •T  he drying up of the traditional design job market and the shrinking of research and development budgets across the US, as a result of the recession, has increased incentives for entrepreneurial risk taking within the design community.

With the advent of design thinking’s promotion of the “businessvalue” of design, designers are starting to recognize that same value in themselves, helping grow the entrepreneurial spirit of the design community. This is being enabled and amplified by the advent of crowd-sourced funding platforms like Kickstarter that reward good ideas in ways that banks and venture capitalists are often systematically incapable of mirroring. As the economy slows and design budgets shrink, designers around the world are becoming more open to risk and more confident in their ability to use these crowd-sourced funding platforms to take their ideas to market.

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Trends (Mindsets)

Society increasingly holds critical design opinions on just about everything as models for great design are fill the marketplace and our lives. Apple is single-handedly responsible for many of these new expectations. The results is that while most members of mainstream society have no formal education in design, their experience with god design is education enough. Society is increasingly able to infer the qualities of good design from the design itself because of the increasing sensitivity to both well designed and poorly designed experiences. These expectations remain strongest in the digital and technological spaces, but are increasingly bleeding into more traditional categories, retail and online experiences.

Signals •T  he incredible success of Apple products in the past few years has educated consumers on their philosophy of what good design looks, and feels like. •A  pple’s design language is being copied in product services and website design all over the world. •S  ocial media now enable rapid wordof-mouth diffusion of new products and experiences – see the backlash from the Blackberry playbook. •T  here is an ever-growing list of resources that help consumer curate and amplify their expectations such as, Core77, Design Sponge, GoodGuide, Gizmodo, Treehugger, Cool Hunting, and Wallpaper.

Expert to Participatory Design
Design practice and research is undergoing a shift from designing “for” users to designing “with” users. This approach originated in Scandinavia and until recently has been largely ignored in North America under the banner of “co-creation”. The methods of co-creation and participatory design have at their heart an inclusive mindset that values and amplifies the creative capacity of users and clients, rather than the expert analysis of behaviours and needs. By actively engaging the intended users of designed products and services in ideation, development, and implementation stages of the design process; advocates of participatory design seek to amplify human creativity and visual literacy while building better products and services at the same time. The benefits are now starting to take root in North America where traditional expert orientations are starting lose ground in a consumer society that increasingly expects to be participants and co-creators in the design process.

Signals •T  he success of crowd sourced marketing agency Victor and Spoils •O  pen public forums and consultations are the norm for any community planning process. •I n 2010 LG Mobile Phones is collaborating with Crowdspring and Autodesk on Design the Future, which is a competition aimed at defining the next generation of mobile communication.

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Trends (Mindsets)

Signals •F  ox now hires partisan political candidates to host programming, including Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee. •T  he rise to power of the Tea Party was made possible by the support of right wing mass media networks.

Subjective Media
Large media conglomerates such as the Fox Entertainment Group are increasingly defining society’s perspectives and cultural norms through constant exposure to politically and culturally subjective views. This programming is also exported worldwide, perhaps in order to stimulate a shift in cultural values within other societies, resulting in homogenous and overly simplified global attitudes towards complex issues from climate change to partisan politics. The eventual outcome may be the suppression of diverse cultural viewpoints on relevant issues; in favour of global debate on a small selection of topics, steered by multinational corporations.

Signals •L  ow economic growth in 20082011 has refocused organizations operating efficiencies and profitability. •O  rganizations still operate under the measurement and efficiency cultures promoted by Six Sigma process improvement. •M  obile and email ubiquity has created shorter attention spans in the minds of clients. •T  ime management software and sophisticated Gant chats have been widely adopted across industries.

Time Crunch
Efficiency as a management philosophy is well entrenched in the business world. Philosophies such as Six Sigma have gained popularity among corporations and large organizations through the promise of maximized efficiency, reduced costs, and more opportunities for competitiveness in an increasingly connected world. Until recently the creative space has been protected from these philosophies, but with the attention and focus paid to both creativity and design as sources of innovation in ever faster market cycles, the designer (along with his/her toolsets and mindsets) is coming under greater and greater pressure to produce more in less time. Human creativity can be pressured, to a point, but if compressed too much its value can start to break down. Such pressures are significant enablers for the development of toolsets that automate and marginalize human creativity in the design process.

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Trends (Mindsets)

Design for the 99%
Through the use of emerging toolsets and mindsets, designers are increasingly focusing on the creation of products and services that can meet wide a spectra of user needs. Products and services in the past were often designed in a way that only an able-bodied or knowledgeable person would be able to use and take full advantage of. The American architect Ronald Mace, creator of the term “universal design”, was instrumental in advocating design processes that produced products and services accessible to people across all positions of accessibility and ability spectra. Design consultancies such as IDEO have demonstrated that even everyday objects, such as can openers, can be designed to be more functional for all people. Their OXO line of products is designed with more comfortable hand grips, allowing use of their products by everyone from seniors with decreased hand strength to children. Design is becoming increasing aware of the fact that if you ensure usability for the most demanding user, ensure it for everyone.

Signals •W  ith a mission to empower youth through education, the One Laptop Per Child program aims to provide a low-cost and rugged laptop to all children to allow them to share in their learning through contributions and collaborations. •T  he Design For All program is a European Commission initiative to make the information society accessible to everyone, no matter what education, culture or status. •A  s the current generation of streetcars in Toronto are coming to the age of retirement, the Toronto Transit Commission is replacing the previously inaccessible streetcars with new low-floor and barrier-free streetcars.

Hacker Culture (DIY and DIT Design)
When products and services are designed for the masses, in culture that expects customization and personalization in everything they buy – you get hackers. “Hacker” communities where people actively alter (rather than invent from scratch) products and service to customize their usability, functionality or aesthetic is on the rise across the board. Often these “hacks” replicate parts of the design process that were previously an integral (and impenetrable) part of internal company processes. With the increased connectivity through social media networks, these do-it-yourself (DIY) individuals are able to share their work, plans and experience with other DIY people in the community, creating a do-it-together (DIT) culture where hackers are able to show case their designs to others. Increasing the final functionality of a product or service is not longer predetermined.

Signals •I TTT (If this, then that) is a new tool that allows the average consumer to hook together they their favourite web apps in customizable ways. •P  opular Product hacking communities include: and •T  hingiverse, Shapeways, Kraftwurx develop revolutionary online hubs for distributed 3D printing and model-sharing.

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Trends (Mindsets)

Signals •N  ew technological, political, and economic incentives towards energy efficient home renovation have prompted many owners to invest in existing properties, rather than sell and buy new. •E, now one of many online marketplaces for buying and selling all things handmade. It has exploded in popularity in the last few years. Since their launch in June 2005, more than 100,000 sellers from around the world have opened up Etsy shops. Fueled by consumers desire for products with defined histories and back stories.

Craft Conscience
The economies of many Western countries rely on consumer consumption for continued growth. As a result, many products have be produced with an accelerated planned obsolescence to instill the notion on the consumer that they must purchase the next version of a product because it is better than the previous one. This “throw-away” culture has resulted in some backlash with today’s concerns over quality and environmental sustainability. Instead of buying new, mass-produced goods that are meant to be replaced, more an more people are opting to purchase hand-made goods that will last longer, or even re-purpose the goods themselves. Mobile phones have become ubiquitous among consumers, with new models appearing as quickly as every few months. Consumers are also urged to upgrade to the latest devices by their cellular carriers every 18-36 months. Sometimes this disparity between upgrade cycles reveals the true values of techno-savvy consumers, and a disconnect between consumer desire and business plans.

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Trends (Mindsets)

In an increasingly uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, people intuitively and emotionally react with an increased need for certainty. As climate patterns become more violent, or the stock markets fall with investor uneasy, most people are demanding more certainty in daily domains as they lose control of the world around them. Increasingly people drive satisfaction from controlling what they can via personal technologies know that their garbage pickup will happen, or that their email is functioning, than ask the more difficult why and how questions of the world around them.

Signals •C  ompanies such as McDonald’s and Nike continue to be popular due to their consistent and familiar products and experiences. •S  ocial networking has exploded as a means through which we can produce a more “certain” picture of ourselves, but has failed to offer us more insight or clarity about who we are individually. •W  e increasingly rely on spell checking systems that provide spelling and grammatical certainty, but do nothing to produce good writing or clear expression. •C  onservative governments have gained electoral ground worldwide, often on platforms of stability, simplicity and certainty.

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Critical Uncertainties and the Matrix
The examination of dozens of trends and driving forces relevant to the world of design was not an exercise that occurred in a procedural vacuum – it was a key stepping stone in our process leading towards the creation of scenarios illustrating design’s possible futures.
The first step following the completion of this organized deck of drivers, blockers and trends was to figure out the method we would use to pair them with one another. The 2x2 Matrix, a widely used tool in business strategy and scenario-based learning, appealed to us the most. Its uses are many, as explored in Alexy Lowy and Phil Hood’s book The Power of the 2x2 Matrix, but it enables foresighters to take driving forces uncovered through horizon scanning, and frame them against one another as critical uncertainties. To use one of our driving forces as an example, the 2x2 Matrix would enable “Fragile Net Neutrality” to be expressed as a spectrum of uncertainty – would the Internet of 2021 be characterized by a tight corporate and governmental regulation, or by a looser structure of emergent regulations defined by numerous stakeholder groups made up of the people using and deriving value from the Internet? Choosing our critical uncertainties was a complicated task, and one that required much prototyping and iteration. What seemed important no matter how we framed the uncertainties, however, was to keep them within reach of the professional designer. Earlier in our project, we defined creativity as activity involving the use of toolsets and mindsets to generate original value. It seemed very important to frame our critical uncertainties using the same structure – one of the uncertainties should be affiliated with the mindsets of design, and the other drawn from the toolsets of design.

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Looking at our map of blockers and drivers from the previous section of the project, it became apparent that “Shifting Creative Values and Identities” were enormously influential on the paths design could take between 2011 and 2021. The outcomes of this driver were highly uncertain, but its presence in the landscape was unmistakable. This driver seemed to align with what we had already established as the mindsets of creativity and design – the values that underpinned who does design, what designers do, and why they do it. In terms of polarities, we felt that this driver was most interestingly expressed in terms of the “who”. With our critical uncertainty established, “Who participates in the design process?”, we were able to express two polarized outcomes that we felt were equally plausible. Attitudes towards who does design could become more exclusive, limiting access to participants from inside of design backgrounds and disciplines; or they could become more inclusive, welcoming in new stakeholder groups, viewpoints, and creative values. Things were more complex still when it came to choosing our second axis – the critical uncertainty that would be paired with our polarized take on design mindsets in the final 2x2 matrix. We felt certain that in order to maintain relevance to today’s emerging design professionals, the second critical uncertainty would have to illustrate fundamental shifts within toolsets. Looking back once more at our map of drivers and blockers, we noticed a number of drivers on the far right that, came together to suggest significant changes and tension in the toolsets arena. “Amazing Complexity and Connectivity”, “Infinite Computing”, and “The Era of the Interface” were all drivers that illustrated the digital power and potential automation of the design process. But what was critically uncertain to us was whether or not, in building these superbly powerful tools, human creativity would be deprioritized and marginalized in the process, or whether it would be celebrated and amplified in new and amazing ways. Ultimately, it was this uncertainty that defined the second toolset axis of our matrix.

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Uncertainties into Scenarios
By stacking our two axes atop one another, with polarized extremes of each critical uncertainty occupying the 12, 3, 6, and 9 positions on the “clock” of the matrix, we were able to move forward with scenario creation.
In each quadrant of the 2x2 Matrix, a story is told that holds the tension between a critical uncertainty on the horizontal axis, and one on the vertical axis. In our case, this meant looking at the future of design in four different ways, and imagining different worlds where: 1.  Attitudes towards design are inclusive, and the tools of design amplify original human creativity. 2.  Attitudes towards design are exclusive, and the tools of design amplify original human creativity. 3.  Attitudes towards design are exclusive, and the tools of design marginalize original human creativity. 4.  Attitudes towards design are inclusive, and the tools of design marginalize original human creativity. Technology and associated social values change quickly, and given how many of the relevant trends and drivers were related to or hinged upon advances in and valuations of information technology, we would be unwise to set our stories much more than 10 years into the future. After all, even the savviest pundits have a hard enough time pinning down technological advances and adoption rates in the mass market’s next quarter, let alone the next decade. The first step towards fleshing out these worlds was to ensure we had a clean understanding of which trends and drivers were most likely to be expressed and be influential in each of the matrix’s quadrants. Uncertainty was paid particular attention in the use of drivers and blockers, while the perceived pace of change was given primacy for the use of trends.

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Inclusive iCreate
Drivers in Play • Infinite Computing • Reality Digitized • The Era of the Interface Blockers in Play • IP Wars • Regulated Internet Toolsets in Play • Parametric Meta-Design • Algorithmic Design • Internet of Things • Bio-mimicry Mindsets in Play • Expert to Participatory • Aes-pectations • Design Velocity

The Empathic Civilization
Drivers in Play • Mass Collaboration • Shifting Creative Values and Identities • Open Access to Education Blockers in Play • Resource Scarcity • Economic Inequality and Instability Toolsets in Play • Open-Sourced • Renaissance Teams • Personal Manufacturing • Composite Value Indicators Mindsets in Play • Hacker Culture • Craft Consciousness • Design-preneurs • Expert to Participatory




Toolsets Technocracy
Drivers in Play • Infinite Computing • Reality Digitized • Shifting Creative Values and Identities Blockers in Play • Changing Economic and Cultural Leadership • IP Wars • Regulated Internet Toolsets in Play • Parametric Meta-Design • Algorithmic Design • Asian Engineers Mindsets in Play • Academic Drift • Design Velocity • Anti-DT Sentiment

Toolsets Design Deity
Drivers in Play • Shifting Creative Values and Identities • Amazing Complexity and Connectivity • Reality Digitized • Infinite Computing Blockers in Play • IP Wars Toolsets in Play • Programming Design • Composite Value Indicators Mindsets in Play • Academic Drift • Subjective Media • Design for the 99% • Anti-DT Sentiment


You will notice that the main character in each scenario is not, as you might have assumed, an emerging design professional, as identified earlier. Instead they are characters that live at the heart of that scenario’s unique combination of design mindsets and toolsets. They are manifestations of each world’s ethos, and are used to illustrate how the scenario’s gravitational pull could affect the lives and opportunities of design professionals.


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The Empathic Civilization
The world has changed in some fundamental ways in the past ten years. The global depression of 2014, and America’s resulting loss of stature as the world’s leading cultural and economic power, has ushered in a new creative renaissance.
Many developed countries have shifted from an imperial ethos to one focused on rebuilding and reinvention at home. Rather than solidifying national identities, the failure of global financial frameworks has resulted in the emergence of global collaborative frameworks where good ideas and tangible innovation are valued, regardless of where or who in the world they come from. Humanity is working together in ways that few previously imagined. These shifts have had a significant impact on Gavin Sinclair, who 10 years ago was an aspiring management consultant and recent business school grad. Today he finds himself in the role of entrepreneur, student and life hacker, a life he would never have imagined. His two main businesses emerged out of conflicting humanist interpretations of educational pursuits in theater and environmental science, and he is currently working on a proposal to attract a team for his third business prospect, among numerous other side projects. November 3rd, 2021, 7:21 am. It’s a Wednesday morning, and it’s time for Gavin Sinclair to get out of bed – something he has always struggled with. Fortunately enough, this experience has been much more pleasant in recent months since he took it upon himself to design his way to a better sleep. He has always been a restless sleeper, the worst period being when his 10-year-old daughter took her CEC (Creativity, Empathy and Collaboration) assessment exams – those kept him up for nights on end. Thankfully, she scored highly
Signposts on the Way •L  eading social networks begin to offer more in the way of content creation than diffusion. •S  ites like Quirky/Etsy that crowdsource product innovations begin to grow in number and popularity. •C  reative toolmakers derive most of their revenue from mass market consumer products. •R  adically customized and unique interfaces to iOS apps become popular as in-app purchases. •O  nce-singular creative tools begin splintering into suites of products targeting diverse users. •D  esign toolmakers negotiate themselves into exclusive deals with social networks.

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What was once a role defined by the quality and genius execution of a finished design, is now defined by the supply chain sourcing of components and raw materials that consumers need to finish the process together.
in most areas (some work to do in terms of creativity) and wound up where she wanted to be. But it wasn’t until now, years later, that it occurred to Gavin to redesign is own sleep “system”, and find a personalized way to reduce his restlessness. Having rigged his bed, pillow and head with movement sensors and video cameras so he was able to identify what kinds of movements were waking him up; he discovered that his current pillow, while comfortable, was amplifying his restlessness. With those insights in hand, he submitted his data, video footage and rough pillow concept to the PlurALL network for some feedback on how he might approach the problem and design. PlurALL has grown over the past five years to be one of the worlds largest social networks, with 55% of the world’s population actively participating and contributing to the platform. PlurALL started out as a niche “product and service hacking” network, but exploded into the mainstream soon after the 2014 depression hit, as people started looking to repurpose and improve what they had, rather than consume more. Today, everyone is a “hacker” and PlurALL is the world’s creative hub, a broad-reaching and powerful expression of collective human ingenuity. Ideas and design challenges geared towards the common good (locally and globally) routinely engage the collective creativity of tens of thousands of people. As an alternative to submitting a design challenge, users can also search PlurALL’s databank of more than 300,000,000 open-source designs and life hacks with no more than a rough idea in mind of topical area and design constraints. Over time PlurALL has also turned into a financial marketplace to ensure that widely used hacks are rewarded and recognized. Payment is based on an honor system to ensure the best hacks are available to anyone, but regardless of the few skipping out on reimbursal, PlurALL has become one of the wolds largest financial markets.

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It didn’t take long for big commerce to catch on to this trend, and in recent years there has been a flood of “scaffold products” into the marketplace. It is now popular for companies to sell unfinished versions of their products in beta, alpha, or even wireframes; leaving varying degrees of design and customization completely in the hands of consumers. Not only has this radical new design process been embraced by consumers, it has changed what it means to be a consumer products manufacturer. What was once a role defined by the quality and genius execution of a finished design, is now defined by the supply chain sourcing of components and raw materials that consumers need to finish the process together. This has further connected consumers to what goes into the products they buy, leading to strict sustainability regulations for most industries. Gavin is no exception to this trend; he has hacked his shoes, his bike, and even his PAD (personal assistive device) in ways that bond it uniquely to his body and creative process. The pillow project took only a couple weeks of discussion within the PlurALL community to result in a refined set of design constraints. After those initial rounds of divergence and convergence, Gavin sought more specific answers to questions such as “What bedding companies offer the best open-source products?” and “What kinds of sensors will record the data we are looking for?” Gavin’s favourite part of the process was the Darwin Session, in which 25 people helped him iterate pillow designs in a single virtual space. The process is less chaotic than most think, each person being able to sculpt their concept while observing the creative evolution of everyone else’s simultaneously. As time passes, designers start to organically merge their ideas through dialogue, and a process of consensus takes place in virtual space. Usually, the designers participating in Darwin Sessions produce a few meaningfully different options. In Gavin’s case, after an evening over the 3D printer and a few nights of testing, he knew which pillow was the winner. Gavin hopes his pillow will receive an editorial profile on PlurALL, much like his contribution to the highway re-purposing project a few years back. With any luck, he might make some extra cash as well.

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Design Deity
Gaia is not co-operating with humanity the way it once did. Natural resources have been depleted at rates far faster than was projected ten years ago, peak oil was presumed reached three years ago, and the price has since spiked past $300 a barrel.
Many of the precious metals needed in the development of advance electronics have also become cost prohibitive, particularly gold. In addition the management and distribution of these resources has become a highly volatile political and economic issue, as all societies need these resources to innovate. The confluence of these factors along with growing climate instability has destabilized the daily lives of much of the world’s population, fundamentally changing consumption patterns and basic human needs. It is November 3rd, 2021, 7:21 am; and Aleksey Demeter is ready to take on another day. Aleksey is no ordinary citizen – as the youngest member of an elite group of star designers and innovators called NEXT, his future is unlimited. Already, his designs and systems innovations have become part of the fabric of daily life for over two billion people across the globe. Ten years ago, back home in Vladivostok, Aleksey was a young but talented programmer, interested in taking gaming to the next level while dabbling as an entrepreneur and app architect. He knew he wanted the respect of his peers, but never imagined the mainstream fame or fortune he has now. Aleksey credits much of his early success to the time he spent studying complex industrial systems design at MIT. Without that experience, he never would have built KLARHET, an immersive and game-like design platform that enables the designer to maximize his creativity and capacity to absorb complex interactions via the manipulation of what Aleksey calls “living prototypes”.
Signposts on the Way •T  he majority of revenue growth for design toolmakers comes from pro markets and tools. •M  argins continue to rise on software products even as open-source erodes some marketshare. •D  isruptive innovations through unconventional interfaces become more and more common (interfaces associated with gaming applied to modeling, at lower prices). •T  he number of headhunters/ placement agencies offering design talent continues to rise. •C  orporate environments continue to court young and innovative professionals, preferring attitude and vision over experience. •C  ollaboration between closed networks of colleagues takes place globally – offices don’t “open up” in terms of hierarchy, but high performance teams decentralize and live online. •M  ore and more design practice takes place in immersive virtual environments. •M  ore experimental user interfaces and UI metaphors begin to surface in high-end design tools.

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KLARHET was such a disruptive design tool that it made most of the earlier platforms obsolete, along with the skillsets that older designers had spent their lifetimes honing. The death of the Design Thinking movement of the early 21st century can be traced back precisely to the release of KLARHET, with its emphasis on creative and technical genius at the control room of the design process. Since its release, Aleksey’s genius has been praised globally, but much of the incumbent design community has shrunken away and splintered into distinct subcultures. Some of these designer communities embrace Aleksey’s platform, while others reject it altogether; opting for a more inclusive and collaborative process that requires much lower levels of technical expertise to participate. But these designers are in a shrinking minority. While some in the industry despise him, the public at large can’t help but love Aleksey for the systems and tools he has offered the average person, to help him adapt to the uncertainty of daily life. Coping with high levels of uncertainty while managing limited physical and financial resources is a fundamental human need in 2021. And while many aspects of daily life have evolved in positive ways to work with less and consume more sustainably, consumer expectations for brilliant design have only increased. In addition, complex tools like KLARHET have further distanced consumers from the design process. While in general there is great awareness of and appreciation for the creativity of figures like Aleksey, only very exclusive communities of designers have the training, skill or talent needed to participate in the design process at his level. Aleksey and a surprisingly small design elite are now responsible for most of the world’s products, services, manufacturing processes and even government policies. Aleksey finally gets out of bed, only nine minutes before a global design collaboration session. He quickly throws some clothes on and prints his favourite breakfast – Russian pancakes. This time he adjusts the parameters to create bite-sized miniature versions of his usual breakfast, with sour cream on the inside so he can pop them in his mouth for a burst of flavour during the meeting. Done in five minutes, and tasty.

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Aleksey runs over into the other room and boots up KLARHET in preparation – he never fails to feel a great sense of pride every time he does. Today he has hand-picked a team of experts who will be working with him to perfect the inter-train “at speed” passenger transition system for Rio de Janeiro’s mass transit retrofit. Those involved with Alexsey on the project recognize the privilege they share; they will be given a chance to interact and collaborate with one of the most creative and ingenious people on the planet. Aleksey starts the meeting with a simple introduction, the room darkens and then fills with a holographic simulation of the at-speed transition system’s passenger experience – a living prototype. From a force feedback mechanism in the floor, he senses a small jolt as the trains connect – immediately zooming into the 3D schematic of the coupling mechanism as it is working, before manipulating its design in real-time. Aleksey collaborates with the project team for hours, replaying the coupling sequence over and over until the jolt disappears completely from the feedback charts of the train’s simulated passengers. After all, it has to be perfect.

The confluence of factors along with growing climate instability has destabilized the daily lives of much of the world’s population, fundamentally changing consumption patterns and basic human needs.

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Driven by economic forces of efficiency, automation and centralized manufacturing have become the norm in 2021. Everdecreasing project timelines and demands for lower operating costs have benefited a few large corporations with the capital to finance mass operations.
To maintain a degree of economic certainty, many countries neighbouring affluent nations have formed alliances. Expanding from the original agreement, NAFTA swells to include South America, resulting in the Americas Free Trade Alliance (AFTA). The former adversaries of the European Union and Russia, along with many former Soviet Union countries, band together. The continent of Africa operates almost as one large nation; as do Australia and most of East Asia; with China, India, Australia, and Japan dominating the group. It’s 7:21 am on Wednesday November 3rd, and Nigel Smith is momentarily distracted by the hum of window shutters automatically rising in his office. The overhead light in his room slowly dims as natural light begins to flood in. Increases in population density have meant that the urban landscape is now covered with mass-density buildings. Smith is one of the lucky few in New Jersey to have access to direct daylight out his window, rather than another building’s shadow. Smith continues his online conversation with a project director in Hong Kong and an engineer in Australia. Contracted to their firm the day before, the three are building a new bridge from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island. Smith’s firm, Travind Inc., manages most of the large building projects in AFTA and Asia by controlling the labour and heavy industry factories in those regions. If a large structure needs to be built, Travind will oversee every aspect of its design. The size and scale of Travind has allowed the corporation to cross the Americas and Asian trade zones, and it has continued to grow its size by
Signposts on the Way •D  esign toolmakers’ investment in research and development continues to rise along with margins, as user numbers fall. •S  tandards around the adoption of creative tools begin to resemble 1990s attitudes towards productivity tools. •A  ll managerial positions require an understanding of high-end design tools. •M  ore and more design toolmakers are acquired by large global conglomerates. •T  hey either act as a creative services department, or are bought for technological IP. •C  reative software presents more choices than canvasses. Template choosers become the dominant user experience trope/design pattern. •I conic “designer’s designers” begin to leave their posts at creative consultancies and their own firms for positions at non-designerly global conglomerates. Karim Rashid goes to work for Foxconn, and Carl Bass leaves Autodesk for Northrup-Grumman.

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buying competitors, or beating them on cost and speed of iterative testing. Utilizing a specialized network of interconnected superfactories, Travind is able to operate as if all its fabrication facilities were a single building, despite their relative distances. Travind’s HyperBuild software platform not only enables all employees to be interconnected, but also allows a factory in northern China to signal and remotely control a factory in Peru, timing the fabrication of parts in real-time. Clients are also able to make changes to their parts and have updates sent instantly across the network to an available factory. Such a semantic connection meant that Travind was able to reduce its timelines to half of its competitors’. To maximize profits on the bridge project, Smith recommends using Travind’s super-size factories, labour and machinery from northern China and Mongolia to build sections of the bridge, before its pieces are transported south to Hong Kong, where they will be assembled. The bridge will be used by heavy industry transports only, so the engineer in Canberra feels that any aesthetic quality to its design will be extravagant. Smith disagrees; considering the size of the bridge, abandoning aesthetic iteration and moving forward on a purely function design would result in an enormous eyesore. The project director in Hong Kong decides that licensing fees and the breakneck four-month timeline will ultimately drive any engineering and design decisions. Cost of the Kowloon-Hong Kong Island bridge is not only determined by materials and labour, but also by user licensing fees. With information industry consolidation and the advent of the semantic Enset computer system, all engineering worldwide is now controlled by the Richard Murray Corporation (RMC). Enset has greatly simplified engineering by allowing almost any user to (rather simply) input the desired world location, type, and use of structure into an end-user application. Enset automatically does 99% the engineering calculations based on its vast database of information. Engineers and designers the world over fight for the right to receive exclusive training on the suite, and its uniform interface across versions and languages is the stuff of experience design legend. The per-user cost of Enset is extremely high, but it has become a required tool. Partially because most engineers worldwide now work for RMC. For an additional fee, users may also select from a template gallery of aesthetically exotic but parametrically certified structures. Otherwise, the Enset system will automatically determine the structure’s appearance based on up-to-the-minute costs of materials and labour.

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Smith considers for a moment the project director’s decision not to collaborate on any design ideas for the bridge, but decides that it would be selfish of him to push for a more aesthetically-pleasing result. After all, he does not have the required credentials to determine what looks good, compared to the specialists at RMC. In this era, professions are tightly regulated and no one steps outside of their bounds. Moving on, Smith addresses the topic of his own firm’s project budget. While there will be costs involved in the transportation of components, from the licensing of vehicles and route surcharges from Asia-Transport Air, the costs should be offset by the lower costs of manufacturing in northern China. Asia-Transport has built and controls all of the main transportation systems in Asia. Their complex traffic analysis system, VelSys, along with their interconnected and driverless smart vehicles, allows AsiaTransport to move an extremely large amount of industrial traffic quickly and efficiently, just as the Hong Kong-Kowloon bridge will. For additional fees, VelSys is also able to connect directly with Travind’s HyperBuild system to maximize the efficiency of moving complicated parts between manufacturing and the build site. It’s now 7:53 am, and the meeting ends. Smith puts down his tablet and looks out his office window to the street below. The crowded streets are bustling with people entering into the Travind office complex from various directions. Smith moves onto the next task at hand and considers if he should go to the Chinese restaurant in his building for lunch.

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The move from Photoshop filters and PowerPoint templates to automated computational systems for everything from home renovation to policy development seemed like it happened overnight.
Some were flabbergasted when the removal of human control over global markets in 2015 resulted in a dramatic turnaround of the global economy in just a few years, but scientists had warned all along that humans weren’t capable of managing complex feedback loops. Sustainability and humanist values are enjoying an unprecedented global surge, so it’s hard to complain too much, regardless of who (or what) is pulling the strings. It’s November 3rd, 2021, 7:21 am. Jessica Hilbert is running late. She’s got a full day of work ahead of her, optimizing the algorithms behind the latest generation of experience design tools in tandem with teams working on cultural attractions in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It’s a project that would have been inconceivable to her a decade earlier, but new technologies have made it relatively easy for her to rise to a position of prominence in the design toolset service industry. In spite of all the ways technology has streamlined the design process in 2021, things are still busy at home. Jessica would once have brought in a team of architects and interior decorators to consult about her kitchen renovation, but with a few quick swipes she captures the room using the light field camera in her phone. A detailed 3D model, complete with rich 4K textures, is instantly transferred to NuLook, an open-source app and cloud service that analyzes the quantitative and qualitative parameters of the Hilbert kitchen against the family’s use patterns and a collage of images that Jessica and her husband generated. The result, ready in just under a minute, is an interactive database of over 50,000 possible kitchens, each one different from the others and rendered in stunning detail. Her eye is caught by a bright round-cornered option, its design anchored around a trio of sculptures – miniature recreations of those in a family photo from a 2012 trip to Mexico.
Signposts on the Way •D  esign toolmakers bring higher-end parametric modeling and generative design tools to consumer markets through mass distribution channels. •N  umerous experiments along the road to user-friendly parametric design tools are sold “in beta”, much to the chagrin of customers who find them hard to use but who are expected to provide feedback on the app as part of their EULA. •S  keumorphism goes wild in terms of mass market and high-end interfaces – elements in the interfaces of design software that were the result of necessity in previous-generation tools are now included as elegant flourishes for the sake of familiarity. •P  roduction values associated with user-generated content on social networks and sites such as YouTube and Vimeo continue to rise, often matching the quality of many highend professional creations. •T  he word “template” begins to show up attached to everything from home renovations to communities, not just in PowerPoint anymore. •C  ontinued growth in the sale of Post-PC devices, at the expense of traditional PCs.

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She moves her fingers over the features of the design, and various costs, accessibility and environmental certifications, and links to equitable vendors are presented. Jessica’s five-year-old daughter Chan is in the other room, screaming in broken Mandarin at the Paint-Like-Me app on her tablet as it struggles to customize thousands of open-content art history lessons into one just right for her. NuLook picks up on the tantrum, briefly confused by the presence of another language, and instantly switches the interface on Jessica’s phone into a swirl of Chinese characters. Jessica sighs. These new tools of design may be inclusive, but they can be frustrating as hell when your kid is a different kind of artistic genius (in a different language) every three months. And this is only the beginning. In an era of opensource education, Chan’s curricula and diploma are as likely to be influenced by her family members, future global competitors, and Global Happiness Index score as by grades on her final exams. Jessica forwards the winning kitchen design to her husband, on a business trip in Tianjin, after choosing from a few templates and inscribing a personal message on a miniature notepad on the design’s virtual countertop. She receives a confirmation message seconds later – the design has been printed from biodegradable polymers on the rapid prototyping machine in her husband’s hotel room, and will be gift-wrapped and waiting for him when he gets back from his meeting. It’s a rainy and cold morning, but Jessica still enjoys walking to work through her prototype community north of Toronto. Elegantly swooping ramps and arches like designs out of a fantasy film bracket the main entrances of the town’s historic structures; for energy efficiency, and also to ensure accessibility for an increasingly aged and disabled population. These futuristic add-ons were the only way to ensure compliance with 2019’s IHFO-900X human factors standards, but no one could have expected their longterm benefits. Optimizing for inclusive delight on the scale of a century had presented the algorithmic urban planning software with scarcely a few hours of challenge – by preserving the beauty and diversity of 19th and 20th century architecture, the system forecasted a 45.3% drop in violence and discontent over the first four decades alone. Jessica hoped to see the integration costs (and ethical hurdles) of these smart planning systems brought down in the coming years and that their benefits would soon be rolling out across the developing world. Many of the employees at Jessica’s design toolset service firm speak basic English, or none at all. Each person interacts with

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their projects and information channels through an interface of their unconscious choice, specifically tuned to account for the quality of their eyesight, attention span, and mother tongue. The Always Inclusive Act of 2017 has resulted in tremendous changes in the way that employers and employees consider accessibility. The professional workflows of many designers are now optimized for finding the right questions for these automated systems, so that they might evolve and spin off appropriate design processes, routines, and metrics of evaluation based on widely agreed-upon human rights and extensive usability legislation. More and more project work is streamlined, copy-edited, and presented to global clients through software suites that improve diction, articulate the work’s value in hundreds of possible languages, and generate visualizations that can be tweaked to resonate with dozens of different aesthetic cultures. Jessica sometimes gets a nagging feeling that she isn’t as creative as she used to be, but then again, the staggering rate at which computers’ decision-making abilities are increasing means that her firm can take in dozens of times more creative work than it would once have been able to. As Jessica nestles down within her desk to start the day’s work, a message from her husband pops up on the screen: “Got “your” kitchen design. It’s so creative, and exactly what we need! Can’t decide who I love more – my wonderful wife, or the algorithms at NuLook”.

Professional workflows of many designers are now optimized for finding the right questions for these automated systems, so that they might evolve and spin off appropriate design processes.

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In each of the preceding scenarios a unique blend of drivers, blockers and trends were expressed. These components were blended in such a way as to create an internal logic for each scenario.
This internal logic represents an attempt at connecting the potential evolution of key drivers, blockers and trends over the next ten years in a way that could logically lead to the world described in each scenario. A possible progression of events that culminate in the internal logic of our scenarios is represented below by a series of signposts that will help you as the emerging designer notice, appreciate and act in the face of the real world’s actual evolution – hopefully enabling you to strategically influence your career in a way that moves you towards your desired future.

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These four possible futures result from different interactions between forces at work in the world of design today, and they allowed us to explore some dramatic challenges and opportunities for emerging design professionals.
But in many ways, the scenarios are themselves just dramatic creative expressions. While they are founded upon complex interactions between driving forces, in order to assess their value as tools for learning how to work towards a preferential future, we need to compare and contrast them with the values held and methods utilized by today’s designers.

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Our initial stance when entering this wind-tunneling phase of the scenario learning process was to utilize a stakeholder-scenario matrix.
That process involved assessing four key stakeholders in the design profession, and attempting to gauge the operational and philosophical fit of their business ideas (the mindsets and toolsets of design) within the constraints and opportunities of each future scenario. While breaking out the core business ideas and unique value differentiators of these stakeholders; academic institutions, design advocacy groups, creative consultancies, and design toolmakers; we came to an interesting conclusion. All of these stakeholders, while institutional, themselves consisted of numerous and independent groups of stakeholders. But which stakeholder groups were common across all of them? Who is actually doing the design work at each of those institutions, and who is the decision maker when it comes to defining and engaging a career of design? We think it is the stakeholder group reading this document right now, the diverse group made up of emerging design professionals. In order to gauge the portfolio of options most relevant and appropriate for emerging design professionals, it only made sense to us to continue to rely on our set of design toolsets and mindsets, this time as strategic options for the emerging designer, the appreciation or depreciation of which would hint at the specifics of a design professional’s life and strategic status in each scenario. Going down the list of design toolsets we had established, it became apparent that in order to wind-tunnel each tool, we would have to consider it both in abstract and using reference to some material manifestation. The toolset of “making prototypes”, for instance, was considered three ways: on the terms of the future scenario worlds we had created, in abstract as a component step of the design process articulated by Stanford’s, and in terms of specific technologies and methods. Specifically, we looked at “prototype making” as a reference to the PlurALL design network of

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The Empathic Civilization scenario, as connective tissue supporting ideation and testing in the design process, and in terms of the CNC and 3D printing tools found at universities (and increasingly, business and retail) today. This method of considering each toolset against each scenario through multiple lenses helped give us confidence and seeds for discussion during the wind-tunneling process. All of the toolsets were wind-tunneled against the scenarios this way, and then scored numerically so that we could rapidly evaluate various combinations of scenario-option fit against one another. As a group, we stopped at each step of the wind-tunneling process to ask ourselves: “Does this scenario afford emerging designers the opportunity to make use of the toolset we are looking it”. A scenario that generously afforded emerging designers with the opportunity to use a given toolset resulted in a green square in the wind-tunnel matrix, and two points. Scenarios that afforded less (but perhaps still some) opportunity for the use of a given toolset resulted in a yellow square, and one point. Finally, scenarios that offered little opportunity for the use of a particular design toolkit were given zero points, and marked red. We moved through the same process when considering mindsets as strategies – which sets of values would be nurtured, which would be ignored or stamped-out, and which had uncertain fates in the worlds of each scenario?

Considering toolsets and mindsets as core strategies of the professional designer, we were able to efficiently determine which scenarios afforded emerging designers of today the best opportunities, and which implied an incongruity of skills and values.

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Wind-tunneling Implications Matrix toolsets
what I do I explore human experience I uncover and share insight I reframe problems I facilitate collaboration I generate ideas I look for patterns and trends I visualize to make sense I make prototypes I test my ideas what I use HCD research methods, participatory methods Metaphor, writing, graphic design story telling facilitation techniques, drawing and mapping brainstorming secondary research, analysis software sketching, graphic design tools, PowerPoint storyboards, paper, foam, CNC, 3D printers using simulators, user testing, beta testing Empathic Civilization

Design Deity Technocracy iCreate

who I am I am creative I am curious I am human-centered I take risks and provoke to think in systems to integrate knowledge to iterate everything to seek genuine value to take the long view to innovate what I want Empathic Civilization

Design Deity Technocracy iCreate

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Exclusive Worlds and Design Toolsets
When reflecting on how the core strategies of design professionals matched up with the future scenarios we had crafted using driving forces in play today, we began to notice an overarching trend.
Whether written assuming the use of tools that amplified creativity or those that marginalized it, scenarios at the bottom of our 2x2 matrix appear to compromise some of the more human-centric and empathic elements of the designer’s toolkit. In Design Deity and Technocracy, opportunities for designers to explore human experience through the use of participatory research methods and human-centred design process are few and far between. This presents an unflattering view of these scenarios in the context of a currently essential part of the designer’s (and design thinker’s) toolkit. The situation was the same when we focused in on problem reframing as a design toolset in these scenarios. The use of storytelling as a tool, for example, may still be needed by designers for sharing meaningful details about the human needs and contexts within which designers attempt to innovate, and may remain a core value differentiator for designers. Techniques such as stakeholder

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and experience maps may still exist in the visions of an exclusive 2021 at the bottom of our matrix, but it is hard to imagine that they are being used to their fullest potential. With a small and exclusive cadre of experts ruling the world of design (and the design of the world) in both scenarios, there are fewer opportunities for meaningful interaction with diverse stakeholder groups, and fewer opportunities for contemplation of the experiences of those stakeholders. Design Deity’s KLARHET virtual design environment mitigates some of this tension, with its ability to use tactile prototyping and biofeedback from simulated transit passengers, but the scenario still describes a world where design is technically and academically inaccessible – conducted by few, for many, from atop an ivory tower. The generation of ideas is also compromised in scenarios occupying the lower half of our matrix. Brainstorming does not figure into the world of Technocracy – design professionals in that version of 2021 are more like babysitters for advanced generative design software than practitioners of craft, or direct influencers of social systems. In the rush to lower operational overhead and increase efficiency in the construction of megaprojects, Travind Inc. has sacrificed not only brainstorming in its design process but much of the problem framing human decision making process. In a world where the components of the design process dedicated to observation, definition, and ideation have been stripped out, what is left for the designer to do, who has the designer become?

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Exclusive Worlds and Design Mindsets
But the implications we identified as stemming from our more exclusive scenarios do not end with toolsets. When we looked at design mindsets, the internal dimensions of designers’ needs and wants, we found a similar outcome.
Opportunities for emerging design professionals to innovate, for instance, are compromised significantly, along with opportunities to be creative, to work at bridging the gap between ideation and innovation. With both creation and innovation mindsets “broken” or underutilized in the scenarios residing along the bottom half of our matrix, and approaches to ideation such as brainstorming broken in the toolsets wind-tunnel, it is hard to imagine these exclusive scenarios as desirable futures for design professionals today based on current visions and values. Through examining how the core toolsets and mindsets of the design professional were given opportunities to flourish in the worlds of our scenarios, it became clear that the most threatening implication of our project was that in worlds where design is characterized by becoming more exclusive, it may rapidly cease to exist in a relevant capacity entirely.

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The Danger of Exclusivity
While we do not want to focus entirely on the threatening or destabilizing implications of our future scenarios, we do feel that they are crucially important to the emerging design professionals of today.
These scenarios are important warning signs that should act as a wake-up call to designers who feel that their discipline can only move in the direction of increased inclusivity, popularity and influence, or that exclusive attitudes towards the cultivation of the design discipline will harmlessly result in the strengthening of today’s status quo philosophy of design. While the outcomes of an exclusive design cultures seem logically unpleasant for emerging designers, what matters now is whether or not the signs and signal of that exclusivity are noticed, appreciated and acted on in ways that move design in a preferred direction. We feel strongly that by wind-tunnelling the strategies and business ideas (toolsets and mindsets) of designers against our four scenarios, we have provided a valuable opportunity to look at how exclusive design mindsets lead to futures that place the careers and values of young designers in jeopardy. The implications of these exclusive scenarios can be summed up as three statements:

Exclusive design mindsets undercut your strategic role and relevance.
If the role of the designer is not only to create beautiful and usable results, but also to reveal complex systems of influence and use them to develop strategic vision for an organization, then Design Deity and Technocracy are not favourable futures for average. These futures strip the problem-framing, insight-uncovering, storytelling, and brainstorming activity out of the human design process almost entirely. While prototyping and testing may be components of the process ripe for handoff to automated and emergent technological systems, it’s hard to understand how handing off an understanding

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of human experience in the same way (and as in Technocracy) could go smoothly or result in favourable futures. Checking your ego at the door when it comes to the tweaking of final product or service details is one thing. Skipping out on these strategic processes is quite another, and hardly seems appropriate, barring some significant advances not likely on the ten year time frame we are considering.

Exclusive design mindsets undercut your opportunity to express your own values through your work.
The fewer designers there are working on a problem, or attempting to uncover its systemic intricacies, the more difficult a meaningful and appropriate solution to that problem may be to find. While we have made an attempt to understand the mindsets of design as a concise and defined list, there are certainly values held by some designers that others might disagree with. In the worlds of Design Deity and Technocracy, design is a creative practice engaged in by only a privileged minority. In spite of the best of intentions, just how often might those privileged few misconstrue the values and viewpoints of others? How would it feel to wake up one morning in 2021 to realize that the world of design, which once held the promise of inclusive creativity, had transformed into a world run by the proverbial 1%? How much potential innovation and ideation would be lost by limiting the design world to viewpoints and values held by a prestigious or seemingly all-knowing minority? How much imagination imagination and creative expression would we stifle by limiting participation in the design process and acquisition of a creative identify? Can we really afford a future where the so-called 99% are stuck on one side of a socio-economic divide, as well as a creative one?

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Exclusive design mindsets undercut your ability to find meaningful and gainful employment.
This implication to the designers of today is simple as can be – the more exclusive attitudes towards design are in the future, the harder it is going to be to find work. As trends indicating a more designerly public continue to make their presence known, and collaboration becomes more of the norm across academic disciplines and industries, design has an opportunity to enter a growth phase, not a recession. Moving towards a more exclusive design mindset is near impossible without a dramatic and explicit curtailing of collaborative creative and analytical strategies, and public interactions with designed products as well as the processes that generated them. The design students and emerging professionals of today represent a generation inspired by product design, and also inspired to improve that process. Creating a more meaningfully integrated, sustainable, and valuable world in 2021 requires bringing more ideas and creative approaches to the design world today, not fewer. Keeping these implications of a world built on more exclusive attitudes towards who does design in mind is important. But what’s more necessary is the development of strategies that help you – today’s students and emerging design professionals – build on the mindsets and toolsets that will support you, and amplify your creative potential as you strive to bridge the realms of imagination and innovation through your work.

Moving towards a more exclusive design mindset is near impossible without a dramatic and explicit curtailing of collaborative creative and analytical strategies.

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The Uncertainty of Inclusivity
The three core implications identified earlier emerged out of a comparison of the values and tools of today’s design professionals with the two scenarios occupying the bottom half of our matrix, and characterized by exclusivity.
But what about the scenarios on the top half, those characterized by inclusive attitudes towards design? Don’t they generate any implications of their own? The challenges that could face design professionals in worlds where more and more people are invited into the design process, their values respected and toolsets encouraged, have more to do with maintaining relevance in the crowd than with struggling for survival, or a proverbial seat on a lifeboat. The Internet is a fascinating place to look for examples of how inclusivity can serve the common good, while also complicating the lives and careers of professionals. If you scan the proliferation of open-source tools and services on the web today, you can find numerous suites of software for everything from image processing to analytics that would have been the bread-and-butter of technical professionals only a decade ago. Today, these pieces of software are often available for free or at low-cost, deployed instantly to low-maintenance servers, and supported by communities of lead users and hobbyists. By making these software suites more open, and in the case of the open software movement more flexible and adaptive, the reins have been handed over from high-end professionals to everyone. What might the same phenomenon look like in the world of design?

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It is important to remember that even the futures that appear bright, shiny, and laden with opportunity come with their own significant challenges and systemic shifts.
In iCreate, for instance, the role of the professional designer is challenged through the emergence of mass-market creative tools utilizing advanced algorithmic generation of designs. Jessica Hilbert even considers moving forward with a renovation of her kitchen based on the inputs of these tools alone, rather than through employing an expensive and increasingly out-of-date contractor and interior designer. In The Empathic Civilization, Gavin Sinclair relies on is own design know-how and turns to a design-driven social network to solve his sleeping problems with a new pillow concept, rather than to the shelves of a retailer or even the online catalogue of a high-end and human-centric design shop.

The results of our wind-tunneling process show that these two scenarios residing in the top half of the matrix present opportunities for the designers of tomorrow to utilize and evolve the toolsets and mindsets that are valued today, but the main difference between the worlds of these scenarios and the world of today is sheer numbers.
In inclusive worlds where design professionals have their values, tools, and tastes matched by an increasingly savvy public, they face challenges as severe as those faced in worlds where design exists as an exclusive fiefdom of a discipline, if they are to maintain cultural and strategic relevance. When suggesting strategies that help today’s design students and emerging professionals adapt to possible shifts on the 10-year timeframe, it is important to remember that even the futures that appear bright, shiny, and laden with opportunity come with their own significant challenges and systemic shifts.

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Taking into account the implications derived from our wind-tunneling process, three strategies available to the emerging designer took shape.
The first two of these strategies (Build Your Own Tools and Drop Out of School) are focused on helping the emerging designer chart a course for an inclusive design culture, and maintain creative and strategic relevance upon arrival. Importantly, we feel that both of these strategies will help set the designer up for success in both iCreate (where design tools for all risk marginalizing human creativity) and The Empathic Civilization (where human creativity is celebrated, but everyone is a “designer”). The third strategy (Jailbreak Design) is to be considered and employed in the interim in the event that design moves meaningfully closer to a exclusive culture. This strategy is framed as a higher risk “all-in” attempt to rescue the design values and roles we currently advocate for from the grip of either Design Deity or Technocracy. Therefore, it should be consulted carefully and strategically.

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Automate Toolsets


Amplify Toolsets

Exclusive Mindsets
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Build Your Own Tools (Re-design Design)
In order to help emerging designers promote and thrive in a more inclusive design culture, we feel that it will become increasingly important for them to learn how to build their own tools. These tools might lean more towards processes and platforms that amplify human creativity, visual literacy and collaboration in The Empathic Civilization; or towards the development of interfaces that elegantly engage the average person in the design of the world around them in iCreate.

The Goal: To help you see the importance of building tools and processes that accurately reflect an inclusive design mindset, your strategic role in the process as a designer, and the values you desire to express through your work.
Why do it?
Both inclusive scenarios for design’s future create new and exciting opportunities for the emerging designer, but they do so while simultaneously raising the bar. Both scenarios require individual designers to apply new kinds of creative and strategic leadership within their domain, one that has become a shared and integrated component of mainstream culture. To do this, designers will need to be deeply connected to the development of the tools, platforms and processes that create shared design experiences. Increasingly, the role of designers will be to re-design design. Along the way, emerging designers will be challenged by massmarket tools and toolmakers trying to do exactly the same thing. It is up to individual designers to define and build new tools, when the ones available to them through commercial channels do not adequately reflect their values. We believe that the emerging designer should take inspiration from mass-market tools, without being enslaved by their version of design’s processes and values.

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Learn from the successes of global conglomerates, but hold yourself to standards defined out of your own values and mindset. Critical to the success of this meta-designerly activity will be the designer’s efforts to engage relevant and diverse stakeholders. Big commercial toolmakers have the luxury of avoiding casual users entering into prolonged learning curves, instead concentrating efforts on fast-learning experts and wizards. It will be the responsibility of tomorrow’s designers to avoid the pitfalls of institutional approaches to innovation that, by their very nature, ignore the values of the casual user, and resist the cultivation of open source communities. Disruptive innovation is only possible when you bring greater overall value to your users or customers than was previously available. Either find a way to drop the price (working in open-source distributed communities of volunteers), or concentrate on features that you know are crucially important to your user communities at the expense of those that you suspect aren’t important (improving features people use, removing the ones that add QA complications without saving anyone’s day).

Risks and Challenges
Of course, there are some obvious risks and challenges associated with this strategy. Building a new tool – like founding a new business venture or nurturing an innovation from the ideation stage – takes time, commitment, and startup-style risks. Therefore, we encourage emerging designers to view the experimentation with the development of new tools as an intrinsically valuable learning experience early in their careers. What matters here is the development of a competency in designing design. Regardless of whether your ventures pay off financially at first, the experience you will generate will help ensure that you establish a relevant and strategic role in a future characterized by inclusive attitudes towards design.

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However, we also recognize an inherent tension in this recommendation. On one hand, we recommend designers concentrating their efforts on re-designing design: on building tools uniquely suited to their values, vision, and the task at hand. On the other hand, we recognize that designers have specialities, and not all of them are in programming, user interface modeling, or prototype testing. But these two extremes – focusing on the development of tools, focusing on skillsets relevant to a particular craft – are not mutually exclusive. What we suggest is that designers adopt a new entrepreneurial orientation to their tools, along with an increased level of comfort delegating creative control and appreciating the creativity of their users.

With every tool you use, ask yourself questions about where it came from, and how its palette of opportunities were shaped and guided by a person or team’s perception of the toolsets and mindsets of design. Do you think that person or team’s perceptions are aligned with your own, or in contrast to them?
With every step you take towards the design of your own tools, ask yourself questions about the people who will be using them in their own design practice. Will these users want to add on to your tool, or express themselves uniquely within it? Will they assume that you understand their take of the core values of design, or will they challenge you to understand their perception? Ask yourself at every step if you feel that your tool opens up new creative opportunities for your users, or strips them away and replaces them with halls of simplified choices. Most importantly, instead of asking yourself these questions about your users... ask them.

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Drop Out of School
In order to help emerging designers promote and thrive in a more inclusive design culture, we feel that it is essential that institutions not be allowed to get in the way of the development of a designer’s individual passion, creative talent, and unique approach to bridging imagination and innovation. Academic design institutions, even the most prestigious and forward thinking, often struggle to keep pace with the world around them – burdened by history, politics and bureaucracy. Such shortcomings are expected to be amplified in the inclusive worlds of iCreate and The Empathic Civilization. While some institutions (such as our Strategic Foresight and Innovation program at OCAD University) are in the process of developing new curricula and pedagogical models to meet this challenge, they are but a drop in the bucket, and exclusive in their own right. It appears highly probable to us that, within the next 10 years, academic institutions will cease to be identified through the “one-stop learning shop” label that has ensured their relevance during turbulent times in the past. In a world where the demand for creative intelligence, innovation, and relevant design toolsets is continually growing, we feel adamant that the emerging designer will need to remix his or her approach to education, and look beyond the walls of the academy to meet educational needs – starting today.

The Goal: To help you develop, express, and apply your creative potential through the exploration of diverse, unconventional, and personally valuable sources of knowledge.
Why do it?
Because even though your parents may have told you that you could be whatever you dreamed you wanted to be, most academic institutions will find a way to adapt that vision into a particular degree attached to a particular set of compulsory credits. Because that feeling you might have had once or twice when learning a powerful lesson from a friend, a family member, an enemy, or a strategic partner is only the tip of the iceberg. Maybe even because some of the brightest entrepreneurs, whether you’re a Mac or a PC, didn’t see that it was necessary to complete a degree in order to change the world. Because although the worlds in iCreate or

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The Empathic Civilization may seem like they offer nothing but opportunities for designers, those opportunities will come in the context of competition against waves of innovators new to the design world, but unafraid of participating in, or even leading it. While this strategy may seem like an easy option to dismiss, given the tension it creates between current cultural norms and the futures we have described, there is more to it than meets the eye. To be clear, the “drop out of school” strategy is not about dropping out of learning entirely, but about “dropping in” to what matters to you and your desired future. It is about amplifying your creative potential with the best tools and platforms available – from the Khan Academy, to an internship, to the TEDx conferences. It is about balancing experience-based learning and academic grounding in a world where institutional systems are not really set up to do both well. It is about seeing problems and needs within society and industry alike, and proactively plotting the shortest distance between you and a role that meets those needs. One way to reframe what your parents may have told you as a child, that you could do anything you set your mind to, is that you are the person who should do the things that you truly believe need doing. While the inclusive worlds of iCreate and The Empathic Civilization may seem preferable to 2011 in the minds of today’s emerging design professionals, they are also highly competitive spaces. Simply put, there is no time to waste developing skills that do not actively build your long-term value and desired future.

Risks and Challenges
Academic institutions, for all of their antiquated approaches and dynamics, do hold a particular cachet in the world of industry. Graduates from esteemed programs with recognizable names do find work, and it’s because of the networks their institutions integrate them into as much as the logo on an academic transcript. Determining the ways in which emergent networks for learning and project-based collaboration will be a crucial challenge along the way to a less centralized world of learning. Whether the learning networks the designers of tomorrow are a part of exist online, in cafes and co-working spaces, or even within established academic institutions; they will need to possess unique identities that are recognizable to outsiders, and that communicate the values held by network nodes, members, or students. If an unconventional or emergent learning network can’t compete with traditional academic institutions in terms of recognizability and value differentiation, then all of the open learning or project-based knowledge in the world may not make enough of a difference.

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We opened this journey by pointing to an important signal; the IBM CEO survey that, in 2010 for the first time, identified creativity as the most important competency in navigating today’s complex, ambiguous and fast-paced global marketplace. While this signal is an important high water mark in our society’s relationship with creativity, for the purposes of emerging designers it should not obfuscate the real challenges ahead. Rather than illustrating an emerging opportunity, this survey’s results highlight a critical challenge and gap between designers and industry. Yes, mainstream industry is increasingly acknowledging the need for creativity, but industry does not define the term in the same way as designers; and in practice, industry has few functional systems to help identify and value creativity appropriately. To ensure that selfdirected leaning pays off for the emerging designer, it is imperative that these “open” experiences be about more than entrepreneurial experiments, collaborative problem solving, and innovative projects – emerging designers must also find new ways to visualize and talk about their creativity.

To be clear, the “drop out of school” strategy is not about dropping out of learning entirely, but about “dropping in” to what matters to you and your desired future.

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Jailbreak Design
In the event that design mindsets or toolsets start to take a sharp turn towards the exclusive, emerging designers need an emergency switch, a secret weapon for turning the tide, a strategy with the potential to inspire collective action and bring about meaningful change. Jailbreaking design is intended to be that rally cry. You might be familiar with the process of jailbreaking an iPhone – unlocking its software security system so that you can install applications and services that deviate from Apple’s App Store guidelines, or that the company’s teams of application screeners deem inappropriate. While the specifics of “jailbreaking design” are dependent on the ways in which exclusive attitudes towards design are manifested, we feel that the signs and signals for action will be clearly present as “gut feelings” in the hearts of emerging designers – the result of a tension or incompatibility between designers’ values and those implied by the tools and systems available to them. In both of our scenarios exploring the reign of exclusive design mindsets; there are systems, cultures and tools that can be liberated. It will be the responsibility of the emerging designer to do that work, and to ensure that opportunities exist for designers to express their values through their practice, and through engagement in meaningful and gainful employment.

The Goal: To help you see the importance of hacking and jailbreaking the products of exclusive design attitudes that agitate your values, and limit your participation.
Why do it?
This foresight project has attempted to sensitize you as an emerging designer to the misalignment of an exclusive design culture with some of the values of design, and the challenges inherent in finding meaningful opportunities for work in futures characterized by exclusive attitudes. Arguably, we already live in (and are moving deeper into) an exclusive design culture – despite values (expressed in the design community) that suggest the

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opposite. Designers have a unique role in maintaining the relevance and vibrancy of the open-source, collaborative communities and platforms that hold the potential to stir pots, and challenge giants. If you see a world emerging where only select stakeholders are participating in or have access to the design process, or where open communities are explicitly suppressed, it is your responsibility to attempt a jailbreak. We have highlighted the value and importance of creativity throughout this project. Our hope is that you will come away with an understanding of creativity as a crucial structure that brings ideas into the realm of real-world innovations. In a world where inclusivity in design is sacrificed for control or power, creativity is also dealt a serious blow. In order for creativity to thrive, we need to cultivate systems and practices that bring more voices and opinions to the table.

Risks and Challenges
There are a number of very real risks suggested by this strategy, the most obvious of which is the possibility of engaging in illegal activity in order to “jailbreak design”. There is no easy way to downplay this risk – one can only highlight that if this strategy is required, and pursued with the clear purpose of re-establishing a more inclusive design culture, you will find the support you need. The copyfighters and wikileakers of today could be powerful allies in a future where inclusive attitudes towards design are stigmatized or driven underground. But there is another challenge inherent in this strategic recommendation – if collective action is to be taken at the right time, designers will need to have established a shared understanding of the signs and signals of the exclusive word they hope to avoid. The establishment of shared values and visions for the future is no small task, and while this project is a small step in that direction, real dialogue around this issue will be need to be sparked and, crucially, maintained before a viable resistance against forces of exclusive control can be established.

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Designers will need to have established a shared understanding of the signs and signals of the exclusive world they hope to avoid.

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We have spent the last three months exploring questions around what the future of the design discipline tells us about creativity, and what future attitudes towards creativity might tell us about design.
While in many ways we’ve opened and unlocked more questions than we answered, we hope that you have found something useful and meaningful in the process presented in this dossier. At every step of the way; we were challenged by our colleagues and mentors to be clear and concise in presenting the definitions of nebulous terms like creativity and innovation, open-minded in our scanning of the horizon for trends and drivers shaping today’s world into tomorrow’s, courageous yet grounded in our articulation of what those futures might look and feel like, and direct about who this work is really for. Our journey through these landscapes of change and uncertainty led us to a set of implications in response to which we have presented three (perhaps unconventional) strategies for successful adaptation. But while all three of these strategies explore the consequences of a career in design at a time when the discipline is under tremendous pressure to both perform and adapt, we felt that there was one more strategy that deserved mention in conclusion. It may seem obvious that graduate students in a program dedicated to learning in the field of strategic foresight would recommend the discipline to fellow designers and students, but we feel that there is a strong case to be made for immersing designers in the core methodologies of our program, particularly in scenario generation. While some designers see working on cool projects, travelling around the world to uncover new fads, and winning awards as the goals of their prospective careers; there are of course other kinds of rewards on the table. Choosing to become a designer in this increasing chaotic and uncertain world is as much about retreading and reaping the benefits of existing paths as it is about forging new ones. After all, if creativity is at the heart of design as we have posited, it deserves to be put at the forefront of one’s philosophical approach to the discipline and career path, not just utilized in the application of window-dressing. 100 • The Future of Human Creativity in Design

The methods we are learning in our MDes program at OCAD University are intended to help us cope with an ever-increasing rate of change, rather than consign ourselves to it. The hope is that these tools and mindsets will teach us how to create compelling, shared visions of our ideas, rather than trendy, incremental, and ultimately meaningless innovations. These tools are intended to help us experiment with the future, but to do so responsibly; and to aid us in understanding how bright ideas and marketable products and services are points on either side of a chasm – the real challenge is in bridging them with creative thinking. The toolsets and mindsets of foresight and scenario generation are of great assistance in helping designers of all sorts sharpen creative and analytical thinking styles, and qualitative and quantitative ways of measuring impact, before bringing them together in a new and integrative fashion. This project progressed in three main stages. First, we scanned the horizon for clues as to what forces were actually shaping and reinforcing the world of the design professional, clustering those trends and drivers into herds that helped us understand the broader dynamics of the systems at work. Next, we let the trends of today and the drivers of our generation play out in a sort of pinhole camera view of the future – four futures, in fact. And finally, we looked long and hard at the gaps between today and these imagined futures, trying to identify the places where emerging design professionals were set up to succeed, and others where they might be set up for significant risk and challenge. While all three of us self-identify as “design professionals” (at least a few hours in the day, or days of the week), we ultimately advocate inclusivity and present this project to you, the students and emerging design professionals of today. Whether you know it or not, you are poised on the edge of tremendous opportunities, and while the systemic forces shaping the world in which you live may seem impossibly large or difficult to comprehend, it’s important to remember that the values you embody and the tools you rely on are among the most influential of them. This project was an opportunity for the three of us to learn new methods of thinking creatively and analytically about the future, but it was also about introducing foresight and the tools of scenario generation to you using a story that you would find both relevant and engaging. Whether you work in the design of communications, images, products, or services; we hope that this brief foray into future landscapes of creativity and design has prompted you to pause, and ponder what role you could play in shaping the future of your discipline. Whether you know it or not, you are poised on the edge of tremendous opportunities, and while the systemic forces shaping the world in which you live may seem impossibly large or difficult to comprehend, it’s important to remember that the values you embody and the tools you rely on are among the most influential of them.

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Trevor Haldenby
While studying the history of cinema in university, Trevor began thinking critically and creatively about storytelling and technology. Since then, he has worked as Producer of Habbo Hotel, a virtual world for teens with more registered users than Twitter; and for Earth Rangers, the kid-powered biodiversity action organization. He has collaborated on the administrative and storytelling sides of numerous transmedia projects, from innovative online documentaries to award-winning installations that have broken new ground in user experience. He is a founding partner of The Mission Business, the Toronto-based collective currently producing ZED, an experiment in scenario-driven storytelling and tangible futures. Trevor has also won acclaim for his work as a visual artist. His photography has explored the worlds behind-the-scenes of the Luminato Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Canadian Film Centre, and other high-profile social innovation leaders. His work has been featured in magazines across Canada and the United States, and one of these days, he’s convinced he’ll find time for a gallery show. Having attended Unionville High School’s prestigious Arts York program, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab, Trevor is a passionate advocate for the arts in education. He is currently thinking quite a bit about the future, and completing a Master of Design program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University. Originally native to the marshes of Toronto and York Region, he now migrates regularly across his home range of Southern Ontario.

104 • The Future of Human Creativity in Design

Kelvin Kwong
Originally a graduate of OCADU’s Communication and Design program, Kelvin returned to school to complete OCADU’s Strategic Foresight and Innovation graduate program. A creative director with the Publicis Groupe for ten years, Kelvin started his own practice in 2006 and has worked on brand and communication strategies with clients such as Barrick, BMO Financial Group, Canadian Cancer Society, Cathay Forest Products, Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Clemson Eye, Hotel Victoria, Kinross Gold, Migao, ProArteDanza, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, Somewhereness, Wajax, and Yogalicious. Kelvin’s work has been recognized by the Advertising and Design Club of Canada, Applied Arts, AR100, the National Post, NUARs and RGD Ontario.

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Martin Ryan
I grew up on the Sunshine Coast, just outside of Vancouver, B.C. – the collaborative project of an Architect, Costume Designer, Artist and Opera Singer. I spent most of my childhood exploring the wilderness in my backyard, and to my parent’s dismay, dismantling and “unsuccessfully” rebuilding most of my toys. My academic roots are found at the University of British Columbia, where I graduated with an Honors B.Comm in Marketing. Always inspired by the intersection of economic, social and environmental progress, I began my career at JWT Ethos – a consulting firm specializing in social marketing and corporate social responsibility. Building on this experience, I joined Canada’s not-for-profit sector to manage Kids Help Phone’s Corporate Partnerships, while trying my hand at political policy development in my spare time. In 2007, I joined in-sync, now a strategic arm of the Publicis Groupe. As a Strategist at in-sync, I work in consultancy with Fortune 500 companies on a wide variety of innovation, consumer insight and brand strategy projects. During my tenure, I have immersed myself in subjects such as: our connection to “sparkling beverages”, the future of pet care, what motivates fundraising and charitable giving, human mobility, healthcare policy, and the experience of many different illnesses. Currently, I am excitedly pursuing a Master of Design at OCAD University in the area of Strategic Foresight and Innovation. I am also proud to be a founding member of Canada’s first Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences (Google it :), and the winner of the the 2011 Rotman Design Challenge. My interests and inspirations are certainly very diverse, but I find that they often return to a fundamental desire to actively participate in the creation, and re-creation of the world that can be. It is my hope that along the way I find challenging opportunities to help transform once depreciated or ordinary human experiences and systems, into ones that are both appreciated and extraordinary.

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