The world's future crisis scenario can be addressed, influenced, and transformed by design. The Design Taxonomy proposes a variegated number of concepts that relate, complement, and echo each other to solve ‘wicked problems'.
Various theories and methodologies need to align urgently to restore and reformulate design’s education and practice. Although different disciplines are already integrating design into their lexicon, the possibilities for social transformation are inert unless systemic and strategic actions are executed.
Currently, creativity is one of the most significant assets for humanity. Problem-solving is embedded in many mindsets, and everyone is designing design. This capstone proposal concludes with a call to action for all people, designers.
Design’s political agency influences people, systems, and culture. Culture is humanity’s primary driver for ‘Value Formulation'. The value of values shapes social behavior and develop correlations with the environment. In the world’s future scenario, designers must be ‘Human Hackers', developing leadership for change. Listening and observing the pluriverse’s suffering with transparency, authenticity, and openness.
Environmental, technological, and political disruptions will bring numerous challenges in the following decade. To face the current situation of an inevitable disaster, ‘Comfortable Disruptors’ stress the need to improve society's mentality and develop endurance through mindfulness. Mental stamina is essential to surpass complexity and acknowledge failure as an opportunity for improvement.
The world is at risk, yet it's more connected than ever. The power of hyper-connections enables collaboration like never before. Multiple networks, enabled by technology, are developing ‘Open Structures', these structures facilitate new narratives through design’s storytelling and critical thinking approach. This research aims to inform, addressing how our actions will change the future. We know that time is short, but more can be done. Increasingly, designers have the potential to restore the damage created from years of defuturing practices towards sustained mindsets and design activism.
Humanity has always faced crises, complexity, and change. Continuous change reinforces cognitive resilience and flexibility. 'Infinite Learners’, are continually aquiring and sharing knowledge in different ways. Democratizing knowledge must be constant in every person’s practice. Distributing information is one of the first steps towards commonality.
Transition design is about local actions that impact global conditions. These actions need to be systematic, coordinated, and contextualized. Technology for this end is a tool for communication, collaboration, and coordination, aiming for a prompt response and automated shift. However, the automation of different processes through technology won't surpass human consciousness. People can learn from nature and act as pollinators, co-designing new ontological purposes for design itself.
Design activism empowers through critical engagement. Communal forms of politics are changing, and strategies must change as well. Empathy is the starting point. Empathy is understanding the actions that make other living beings ‘suffer’, not just acknowledging their needs. Improving all conditions for the development of worlds inside worlds as a means to relationality, inclusion, and conviviality. Acting through the secular ethics of our meta practice.
The realization of sympoietic systems through the practice of design activism sets the conditions for the continuous self-creation of convivial tools, institutions, and processes. Drawing on "the political ontology of Autonomous Design" (Escobar, 2018, p. 184).
A designer's job is no longer segregated to producing objects, exporting ideas, and delivering solutions. Instead, they must expand their critical thinking to understand, collaborate, and influence systems, spaces, and people for autonomy. Design can shape new mindsets, ways of living, and solve shared challenges for the world’s village. In a future crisis scenario, communality for transition is essential.
Enabling autonomy through design can develop individualization—the macro-sociological phenomenon of collaboration for distributed equity. Empowering designers through knowledge to address local issues with global tools will result in sustainable futuring practices. Moreover, potentializing the autopoietic principle of self-creation of all living systems, communities, and worlds.
“Design, designs, and in return, we are all designed" (Willis, 2006; Fry, 1998, p. 95). Rebuilding to preserve, nurture, and restore the world around us. Enabling potential to share contextual epistemology to solve local issues. It facilitates empiric learnings from a community and for the community, finally, reformulates the ontological purpose of the never-ending hermeneutic circle of design. Our future generations are not just the children of our children but also includes the species that will continue to shape and reshape this beautiful place we call Earth. Our home, the only one we have.
Future Research and Call to Action
I would like to conclude by proposing this research can be extended further in the form of a Ph.D, restating the question that began the work in hand. How can design assist in radical times for the world ́s future crisis?
The question is broad, and the proposals for answering it can be even more extensive. Many concepts of the Design Taxonomy are open discussions for a particular purpose. Its implementation in design education and professional practice will provide favorable and useful results. Prototyping it in different contexts and speculative crises will improve the framework. There is scope for further research and for collaborative articulation of theories and methods from multidisciplinary fields, which can be incorporated into design.
Realistically, It's already too late. Civilization is already on the edge of collapse, and we might not be able to restore it. The climate crisis is inevitable, technological, and scientific disruptions from the past two centuries have already changed our behavior dramatically. Consequently, the human ability to react to the hyper-individualistic and disposable culture is embedded in our mindset. It dissociates us from our responsibility to respect other ecosystems and living beings.
History has demonstrated that resilience, adaptability, and flexibility ensured humanity prospered during the darkest periods. The poet Charles Bukowski once said, “don't try, but if you’re going to try, try all the way.” For millions of years, our planet has been shaped by a series of irrational yet coherent events. The Anthropocene is jeopardizing the precarious balance and continuity of evolution. Today’s design plasticity can be a driver for transformation. This is the era for Transition and Autonomy. This is the time for creative minds to co-design holistic proposals to restructure hegemonic political order, enable social reconfiguration, and finally develop universality where our civilization and all species can thrive.
Even if we fail, we tried, all the way.