How the future happens

J. Auger, J. Hanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Industrial design, for the most part, is about exploiting the potential of new technologies to create functional, usable and desirable products – design is at the heart of future formation. Unfortunately, this process is mostly devoid of any critical or philosophical foundation. Some myths taught at design school: Design is good. Design makes people’s lives better. Design solves problems. Of course design can be and do all of these things, but it has become so intrinsically linked to the prevailing demands of consumption and innovation that it has essentially been reduced to a novelty machine. Constraints – the rules, forces or beliefs that direct the process – are at the centre of design education and practice. As Charles Eames noted in his Design Q&A (1972), design depends largely on “the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible; his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints. Constraints of price, of size, of strength, of balance, of surface, of time, and so forth.” But there are grander, more systemic and pervasive constraints at play. Though often invisible or hid- den these factors have a significant narrowing impact on the potential of design, resulting in a paucity of original thinking and a chronic neglect of responsibility. Here we explore some of the most problematic constraints and the ways in which they influence and narrow the pathways to all of our possible futures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Futures Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Speculative Design
  • Design
  • Futures Studies


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  • REDEMA: Redesigning Madeira

    Auger, J., Hanna, J. & Nunes, N.


    Project: Research project

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