Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 7421-7430
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.1490
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Futures literacy for designers is as an indispensable knowledge in designing complex tomorrows. The success of the design activity depends greatly on the ability of designers to envision possible futures and react accordingly. In this paper, we discuss an educational experience developed by FUEL4Design project (Futures Education and Literacies for Designers ), a EU funded ERASMUS + project supported by four partner universities: Oslo school or Architecture and Design (AHO), Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi), University of the Arts London (UAL) and Barcelona School of Design and Engineering ( ELISAVA ). The aim of the project is to develop a design futures educational methodology supported by proper resources for both students and teachers. The project capitalises on design futures literacies which refer to the transdisciplinary blend of theories, concepts and methods geared to support situated and resilient pedagogies for anticipatory thinking in the design field.

The paper presents the organization and the methodology used in the Design Futures Thinkaton: an intensive three days’ workshop for PhD candidates moved fully online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The workshop is meant as a training event introducing design futures literacy methods to PhD students but also as an occasion to test and validate the tools and methodologies developed in the first year of the FUEL4Design activity. In particular the workshop employs and tests the Futures’ Design toolkit and the Futures’ scouting track with the aim of guiding the PhD student along the generative process of alternative futures. A further support is given by the first two “futures devices” developed in the project: the Futures’ Lexicon ( a gathering of language support) and the Philosophical Pills (critical lenses to look at the possible, preferable and probable futures).

The tools for this workshop were gathered and prepared following a systematic methodology and extensive research on the current available methods collections and toolkits for futures and design. We gathered (1062) tools available in the fields of design, futures, service design & design thinking. After the elimination of duplicated functions and ill-defined tools, we identified (596) tools in total and (80) for design futures. By doing the extensive research on methods collections and toolkits we were able to highlight the areas that formulate a gap where there is a space to create new tools to bridge these knowledge gaps. In the workshop, we selected (15) different tools to be tested among the different groups of participants. With the aim of testing the effectiveness, the different tools have been distributed to the PhD teams in order to support the same phase and with the same goal but with different approach and complexities. The final purpose is to observe, evaluate and reflect upon how the teams will respond to the same goal using different tools or methods.

Expected results:
The PhD Futures’ Thinkaton represent a first test for innovative future literacies practices with tools and techniques to meet learning and design making challenges. The critical insights provided by the PhD participants will allow the FUEL4Design team to draw the guidelines for design futures techniques and to develop instruments for performing design speculation for educators, but also available for uptake and transfer in teaching and the profession.
Design Futures, Tools and Methods, Futures literacy.