Archive for the 'explore' Category

Plan C launches!

Friday, September 12th, 2008

For about two years already we have been a core partner in setting up “Plan C”, a transition management experiment in Flanders, aimed at catalyzing the societal shift to a world in which materials are managed in a sustainable way.

In a long term oriented participatory process seeded by OVAM (the Flemish Public Waste Agency) and guided by PantopiconResource Analysis & the Center for Organizational and Personnel Psychology a possible future for sustainable materials management in Flanders was envisioned. Smart, creative, entrepreneurial minds from knowledge institutions, business and industry, ngo’s, government agencies etc. formed new alliances and have been smashing heads and hands together to come up with opportunities for radical innovation and structural change. 5 transition teams self-organized into 5 themes:

  • closing the loop: cradle2cradle & beyond
  • waking up society: towards a behavioral change
  • at your service: from products to services
  • tailored materials: making ‘making’ different
  • sustainable plastics: towards a new basis

Each of these teams has defined a series of experiments they wish to set up and conduct in view of catalyzing structural change in the way deal with materials.

On October 15th, the current Plan C network members (60-80 heads strong) launches its vision, presents its experiments and invites fellow smart, creative and daring heads and hands to join in at a network-mindsstorm event in Mechelen (Belgium) (note: meeting will be in Dutch).

Spread the word and do join in!

rough guide to the future

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Science writer Jon Turney is writing a Rough Guide to the Future (due out in Autumn 2009)He blogs about his fascinating writing journey at Unreliable futures. The flexible format of a tourist guide is ideally suited to immerse readers in a future(s) context. Turney’s guide aims to be a real guide to navigate possible futures and ways in which people imagine(d), envision(ed) and tell stories about them. The book will consist of three major sections. The first will sketch an overview of different conceptualizations of time. The second part will delve into problems and promises of the next decades and beyond. Last but not least, the third section will deal with the ‘big’, cosmic futures.

Turney sees every person as a futurologist. He emphasizes how the future is an inherent part of the human mindset and actively engaging with it is/ought to be a necessary aspect of everyone’s life. According to Jon – cheers – he/she who loses the capacity to imagine the future is not a human being to the fullest!

Keep up the good work Jon, I imagine many await the realization of the book to dive into the fascinating possible worlds of tomorrow.

Via la Repubblica delle Donne


Sunday, August 24th, 2008



Forget microfilm, here is the nanobook. Together with the Nano Imaging Facility of Simon Fraser University , artist Robert Chaplin created the world’s first nanobook “Teeny Ted from Turnip Town”, measuring a mere 69 x 97 microns. And yes, the book has an ISBN number.

Nanotechnology is not only inspiring many artists and designers, also the scientists and technologists are starting to see the potential of art and design to catalyze dialogue between the labworld and society at large. In similar fashion, the belgian nanotech player IMEC teamed up with our friends over at AddictLab a while ago. The project, named in.tangible/scape.saims to bring the fascinating yet often obscure world of nanotechnology to life through art and design, a wonderful way to breathe life into yet nonexisting futures. An inspiration book on the results of the joint research project is under publication.

Together, both partners also set up NanoDesignAwards, of which the first edition will take place in 2009.

a plastics future

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

World in 2030The European association of plastics manufacturers, Plastics Europe, … commissioned UK futurist Ray Hammond to write a book about the world in 2030, with a special focus on the challenges for plastics.

Changing demographics, extreme weather conditions, peak-oil, resource-conflicts, surveillance society, hyperreal leisure time, robots, sustainable globalisation, healthcare revolution, virtual companions, biodigital interfaces, the global brain, new retailing, …

A summary of the book including a first response of the plastics industry on the challenges ahead, can be found here.

Military to regrow body parts

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Regenerative medicine is gaining momentum. The Department of Defense announced the launching of a new 5-year initiative to boost developments in the field, entitled “the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM)”.

“The newly established Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, known by the acronym AFIRM, will serve as the military’s operational agency for the effort […]  A key component of the initiative is to harness stem cell research and technology in finding innovative ways to use a patient’s natural cellular structure to reconstruct new skin, muscles and tendons, and even ears, noses and fingers […]”

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, S. Ward Casscells, expects full functional regeneration of fingers and toes within 5 years. AFIRM is a partnership between the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Both will act as co-leaders in the initiative and receive half of the total grant of $85 million to develop new treatments for wounded soldiers. The teams working on the project include collaborators from 15 other institutions. Director of the McGowan Institute, Allan J. Russell, will co-direct AFIRM (see Alan’s inspiring TED talk here).

Several medical fields are aiming for regenerative solutions to avoid rejection of foreign tissue, prostheses, etc. In the field of oral care for example, UK-based Odontis is searching to grow entire replacement teeth. Other initiatives, such as that by Prof. Sally Marshall at the University of California are looking for solutions to remineralize parts of teeth (see here).

The road is long but every small success, because of its profound impact on the quality of lives of people, will revolutionize the medical field in the broad sense.

future shopping

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Konstfack, the Swedish University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, ran an exhibition at the Gallerian shopping mall in Stockholm recently, exploring the future of shopping entitled … FutureShopping. Guided by Design United’s Christine Hedström and Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Ronald Jones 13 students showcased their exploration of the future of shopping from the perspective of the consumption of luxury goods. The project also featured a seminar on the theme with guest speakers from areas such as design, branding, marketing, strategy etc.

“By studying research material and using trend analysis the students have worked around the changing consumptions patterns in the future and also come up with an answer to the question; What is luxury in 20 years?”

Via DesignBoost and StockholmFashionDays

city beneath the city

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

below amsterdamLack of space? Go down underground (see also here). With the AMFORA project – Dutch acronym for Alternative Multifunctional Underground Space Amsterdam – Strukton and architectural office Zwarts & Jansma envisions a second cityspace below Amsterdam’s canals. Pricetag: around 10bn €.

“Through a system of underground spaces with entry and exit points along Amsterdam’s A10 ring road, a range of underground facilities can be created at various levels below the city. To name but a few of the many options, these could include parking garages, sports facilities, cinemas, cables and ducts, and supply facilities. The plan devotes a great deal of attention to the underground experience and architecture. Space, safety and sound orientation are central elements. […] It is both feasible and sustainable. Creating a city beneath the city is not futuristic, it is a necessity in this day and age.”

Image by Strukton, click here for more.

a day in the life of a designer (surrounded by smart things), 2030 AD

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

a day in the life ofFew experiences awaken a dialogue with possible futures ahead of us, or renders them tangible via a change of perspective as well as describing ‘a day in the life of’ a person x years ahead in time.

At Pantopicon, we often challenge our clients (as well as students) to shed today’s skin and crawl into that of somebody else in a tomorrow’s world: a client, a citizen, a farmer, a dentist, etc. As they engage in describing as meticulously – and poetically – as possible, the events, actions and sensations throughout a day in the life of that someone in some distant future, their minds are stretched beyond the barriers of current-day assumptions, inspired by future possibilities, threats and challenges. While, as an exercise  already being a revealing and rewarding experience in itself, the results as such can be made tangible in various ways (e.g. illustrated maps, timelines, storyboards, videos, …), sharing, communicating with and feeding further reflection and dialogue.

Irene Pereyra & Tom Klinkowstein recently presented their “day in the life of a networked designer’s smart things or a day in a designer’s networked smart things, 2030” at the Pratt Institute. The project was made for the Singapore Design Festival and deals with an imagined designer’s day, anno 2030. Irene & Tom created a diary like wall-sized map taking the viewer on a day’s journey through the life of a designer as if sitting on her shoulder and reading the world through her mind’s eye. A smart-tech-infused future comes to life through the experience of the designer via a fascinating, diverse yet integrated storyline.

The full map can be viewed as a pdf here.

electronic tattoos

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Electronic TattooAs cameraphones in Japan are already equiped with barcode-scanning-algorithms, most of us spotted the first 2D barcode and ShotCode tattoos by now, each pointing to the wearer’s website. Yet, as such the tattoo performs a mere bridging function towards our parallel virtual world, giving the tattoo an extra dimension of life.

But what about a more direct way to bring the ink markings to life, to ‘electr(on)ify’ them? This is exactly one of the thought experiments pursued by the people over at Philips Design, who looked at electronic tattoos in one of their future-oriented Probes projects.

This video illustrates in a poetic way how the tattoo could respond to touch. While interesting, I suggest thinking a little further ahead. Imagine different emotions – either the emotional state of the wearer or the emotion hidden in the manner of touch of someone else – evoking different responses. Imagine a generation of intelligent tattoos, displaying information on bodily functions upon touch (heartbeat, temperature, sugar level, etc.). Our skin as our old new interface.

Possibilities are limitless, which reminds me of a short note I wrote many years back about what I used to call the notion of DynaTattoos. Looks like I ought to dig it up again.

Image courtesy of Philips Design

future (of) cities

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

a blink of NiemeyerForbes Magazine runs a special report on the future of our cities and the cities of the future. Several plausible futures pass the review: the future city as a third-world slum, as a surveillance town, ambiguous sprawl, multi-million megacities or ghost cities.

Milano 2020

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

MilanVividly I remember Prof. Stefano Boeri‘s fascinating project (Liquid Europe &) Solid Sea in which he invited people to switch viewpoint and consider the Mediterranean as ‘land’ instead of sea and the land surrounding it as water. In doing so the concepts of migration, roads, ports, departure and arrival, frontiers, that which is fixed and that which is fluid, volatile, moving etc. and consequently planning and design for such an environment change completely.

Now the studio of which he is a cofounder, Multiplicity, is preparing a promising book titled ‘Milano. Cronache dell’abitare’ to be published by Giorgio Mondadori Publishers next month in which the future of Milan (timehorizon 2020) is portrayed and discussed along the lines of 3 possible scenarios:

  1. Milan as a city, completely void of fixed residents, with life concentrated around commuters and grand events such as the Salone del Mobile and other fashion and design-related happenings.
  2. Milan as an archipelago-like city in which each and every ethno-cultural-economic community has carved out its turf.
  3. Milan as a city in which public services are no longer, yet where free agents and entrepreneurs flourish and have taken over ‘management’ of the city.

    Via Elle Decor Italy

    dutch language in 2082

    Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

    onze taal As part of their 75th birthday celebrations (congratulations!) the Dutch linguistic society ‘Genootschap Onze Taal‘ launched a kind of competition inviting people to share how they imagine dutch language to be in the future, time horizon: 2082. For the dutch-speaking readers among you, set your imagination in motion and give it a try.

    It reminded me immediately of Michael Winterbottom’s unique scifi movie ‘Code 46‘ in which a future society is brought to life in very subtle ways. Instead of megabudget Hollywoodian visual effects, among other things the director played with the how language (e.g. vocabulary) could change under the influence of socio-cultural factors such as immigration, total surveillance, identity theft or technological ones such as biogenetics etc.

    Thanks for the link Jan!


    Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

    ffwd>>One of the beauties of the pantopical viewpoint is that it reflects the wonderful diversity of ways in which people look at the future of certain aspects of their lives and express them in terms of their dreams, nightmares, expectations, wonderings … As such, following our participatory approach, breathing life into the future by visualizing one’s views on it, is something we like to do – and find important to do so – also beyond the boundaries of our day-to-day projects with customers in the public and private realm.

    Therefore, after a long hiatus we decided to kickstart our FFWD>> competition again to involve you (yes, also you) in showcasing this diversity of views on the future. So we would hereby like to invite all you photoshoppers, mattepainting fans and visually creative minds out there, to participate in a new series of FFWD>> events. Current theme: education. How do you think education might look 20 years from now? Share with us a look through your mind’s eye.

    Feel free to browse previous entries in the FFWD>> archive.

    alternative futures at Nokia

    Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

    Jan ChipchaseSome of you might know Jan Chipchase from his blog Future Perfect, one that sounds like music to our ears for obvious reasons. At Nokia Design, Jan is involved in envisaging new product concepts with a timehorizon of 3-15 years.

    In one of his recent blog posts, Jan writes:

    “Delivered a presentation to the S.E.T. studio in Tokyo – in a funky, and funkily-wired building just off Harajuku’s Takeshita Dori – a working environment that also functions as a test-space for ‘living’ new ideas. “

    This sounds like a wonderful ‘future room’ which we’d love to know more about.

    Worth mentioning on the methodological front: recently Jan gave two presentations, wonderfully documenting some of his/their recent experiences with user-centred, field-based methods to scanning into emerging trends happening out there in the world and taking inspiration from these observations to think about possible alternative futures that might arise in time. However, the presentations appear to focus more on the design research part of the process, than on the part in which alternative futures are explored.

    Via our friends at Putting People First

    sigma & delta scans

    Friday, January 5th, 2007

    filing cabinetsA while ago, we referred to the British horizonscanning centre. They recently commissioned a set of foresight studies to scan 50 years ahead : the sigma and delta scans, carried out by futures researchers, OutsightsIpsos Mori and the Instute For The Future.

    Both scans are essentially databases of articles on trends, their characteristics and possible implications. The sigma scan follows the STEEP-pattern and looks into the areas of Society, Science & Technology, Economics, Environment and Politics, whereas the delta scan is split up into several outlook categories, mostly along the lines of scientific disciplines.

    Our friends over at Experientia compiled a nice selection of trends from the two studies.

    Via PuttingPeopleFirst