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  • Writer's pictureKate Stone

Future of design in a connected world

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

Since the beginning of the human experience we have discovered, invented and designed ways to make our lives easier, safer, and better connected as well as amplify our strengths and abilities. We learnt how to make fire. We invented the wheel. And then went on to forge the plough, the printing press, the telephone and the computer. Along the way our lives have became richer, with more time to think and connect with each other. And as a result, our society and level of sophistication has grown. However, we are reaching a tipping point, many of our daily tasks have been made so easy that they require little or no input from us. At the touch of a screen or from sound of our voice a device can order our groceries, deliver cooked food, bring transport or even entertain us; effectively making us surplus to requirements in our own life! Whilst the brain is an organ limited in size by the skull our mind can be considered to extend outwards of our head and body with a limitless potential to become part of everything that surrounds us. Everything we see and do, the people we meet and have connections with or even the weather or passing of time are all part of our mind. Our journeys and conversations form a part of how we think, develop our thoughts and ultimately are how we are connected into our environment and each other. This is reflected in our language, for example, we might remember events by saying we take a trip down ‘memory lane’. Someone who does not consider the benefits of exploring diversity of experience, people and cultures is said to be ‘small minded’; your world is your 'mind space’. The more we disappear into our devices the more we disconnect from the perceived reality of our shared physical world. Because if the physical world and our journey through it is a large part of our mind then we are effectively losing our minds and becoming mindless the more we lose touch with what is physically around us. Two experiences that are incredibly important are process and ritual. Processes and rituals such as preparing food, chopping wood or walking to work take our mind on a journey and prepare us to transition from one mental state to another creating space for new thoughts to develop or existing ones to grow. The importance of our physical journeys through each day cannot be underestimated, they are a large part of how we think, remember and connect. It is ironic that the point we finally remove all friction from the human existence is also the point at which we will no longer have any sense of that very existence and what it means to be human. Although we may have lost our way, there’s hope and I’m actually quite excited about where this takes us next! We are in a time and place of great change, we are like adolescents about to go into a new phase of our life. We are entering a world were nearly every basic need can be met without an effort, where we are safe and effectively have super human abilities! In this world nearly every physical object will have the potential to respond to touch or some other sense, is connected, gathers data and is part of a cloud based artificial intelligence; I call this giving an object a digital soul. Our spaces and places will be connected, sentient and sapient i.e. can feel and make wise choices. It is with this insight and a knowledge of how

important human process and ritual are, combined with an understanding that all these objects are a part of our mind, that we must to start design products, and processes entirely differently. We could start to design in a way that does not pursue technical capabilities but rather seeks to create magical experiences. Design in a way not just with a user experience in mind but in a way that creates mindful, meaningful and memorable experiences. Furthermore, let’s not just design to make someones life easier, we could design products and experiences that make peoples life more difficult! Because it is the friction throughout our day makes it memorable. We crave the process and interaction. Case and point, we made creating, sharing and consuming music so easy that we have now gone back to desiring the inconvenience of vinyl! Lets not just have the user in our thoughts but the user’s mind and how we all connect with a greater sense of purpose, the environment we live in as well as everything else that is in it. And lets do this before we all lose our minds and possibly a whole lot more.

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