Theme: Design is Changing

The future of design is becoming ever more difficult to predict. The world surprises us every day with dramatic changes and vast possibilities. What if Design—perceptive in its understanding of the past, and prescient in its talent at re-imagining a better future, is in a unique position to offer a clear path through this shift?

Globalisation touches all of us and we are continually adapting. Professionals in all sectors feel the impact of fast-growing economies, an upheaval in manufacturing and trading patterns, a call for openness to a world enhanced by a diversity of cultures and to modes of communication and travel that have shrunk time and space down to the touch of a device. In this cultural, technological and communication revolution, distant continents have become tangible neighbours. Advances in telecommunications provide a new form of dialogue between people and cultures, and technological advances like hyperloops and even space travel tourism inspires awe. What will the role of the Designer be as we rethink the very forms of living? How can designers responsibly play a role in the rebuilding of culture and sustainable processes?

These geo-political shifts have upped the stakes on what the choices and actions of designers will be. We feel excitement and also uncertainty as the free movement of people, goods and services forces a paradigm shift in how designing happens. We may feel some anxiety—over the control over the movement of people, and trade conflicts that make it more urgent to upturn the triangular relationship between producer, designer and end-user. Can we afford to let the market determine consumption while ignoring the cost of mounting waste, plastics in our oceans and the social costs associated with increasing inequality? Can designers reposition themselves as ambassadors for the end-users, advocating for the greater good in ways that are innovative, democratic, inclusive and sustainable? We know designers have the power to make new choices in their practices—to create a new balance focused on improving the economic, social and environmental relationships between people and corporations.  In small and big ways, this is happening already. How fruitful to shed light on design innovation in lesser-known regions, and the on the ways people are bridging between fields and expertise through new kinds of communication. Designers never work alone. The designer’s role to listen and collaborate on global issues is a new reality as designing becomes increasingly multi- inter- and cross- disciplinary

Design is changing. Help us understand what you see happening in your regions and how it affects your organisations future-readiness.