Dubai Future Design


I recently recapped the inaugural session of the Future Design Diploma course Changeist created and is delivering throughout 2017 at the Dubai Future Academy. We are currently in the midst of our second of five two-week courses, each with a different professional cohort participating. Each comes with its own interesting mix of issues, perspectives on challenges facing Dubai and those who live here. We aim to build capacity to apply futures methods and mindsets here, and to learn more about the different views, hopes and fears for the future felt here. 

An excerpt: 

"Every society sees plausiblepreferable and possible differently, and defines preferable based on different values—deeply cultural as well as contemporary. There are unique challenges to discussing and framing futures in a setting where massive new building projects emerge from the desert almost overnight, infrastructure and services seen elsewhere as aspirational, get tested and deployed in reality, yet existential risks of climate change and global instability loom. Future timelines are compressed, distant horizons come rushing at you, and the givens one can assume are different when clear markers of progress are frequently placed ahead in major market sectors. The task then, is to balance what’s planned with substantial external uncertainties in a turbulent world, as well as the implications of internal change in a country that has gone from a trading outpost to global hub in less than one adult lifetime."

To learn more, check the Academy link above. 




Futuring Exercise: Call for Participation

Image: Maria Grazia Montagnari / Flickr

Image: Maria Grazia Montagnari / Flickr

We'll shortly be running a workshop in Malta alongside Time's Up for the  2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Below is a repost of information on this workshop from Time's Up. If you are in the region, we'd love to have you there. Watch this space for our summary of the workshop and resulting projects.



Invitation for citizens to participate in
Futuring Exercises - February 2017

Co-create and implement props, media and accessories from possible futures

Time’s Up, together with the 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union with the support of Arts Council Malta and the Valletta 2018 Foundation, invites you to be part of a select group of participants in an exercise designed to imagine possible futures for Malta and Europe.

Led by renowned groups of future designers, these workshops allow participants to draft possible near futures, to imagine a world we all might live in and to implement objects and media existing in these futures.

The results of the activities will be widely distributed within Malta and beyond, engaging with the general population as well as being passed on to decision makers within governments and other stakeholder groups.

We invite creative contributions towards developing a culture of insight and foresight, using speculative thinking guided by futurist experts with groups of practitioners.

We are searching for a wide spectrum of interested, creative and engaged people possessing a distinct sense of curiosity and open-mindedness.

Please feel welcome if you are:

  • Interested, trained or actively involved in political, socioeconomic, cultural or environmentally sustainable undertakings and studies.

  • Involved in or connected with local creative, cultural, artistic communities, initiatives and organizations

  • Otherwise interested in co-creating the future.

To join one of the workshops described, please submit a short text (max. 400 words) outlining why you would like to be involved.

Please send this (the sooner the better / limited number of places) to

Participation in the workshops is free of charge.

Workshop 01: Exploring a Post-Citizenship Future
19th-21st of February / Changeist
Venue 19th-20th of Feb – 10am-4pm: Saint Augustine Hall, Rabat
Venue 21st of Feb – 10am-4pm: MCAST, Mosta

Migrants, cosmopolitans, refugees, ex-pats, aliens, transplants, leavers, joiners - we have many words to describe people who move to be part of a group, place or idea they value.

The workshop will investigate the ideas of soft and hard ‘citizenship’, membership and belonging, and how these notions may change in the near future. It will briefly look at the role of Malta in the history of movement and belonging, look at forces that are redefining ‘citizenship’ today and in the near future, and design new forms of citizenship - of places, things, ideas or something completely different.

Through the creation of experiential scenarios, artefacts and media, we’ll explore these future forms as if they exist now.

Workshop 02: Panel for Special Programmes
24th-26th February / Extrapolation Factory
Venue 24th of February – 10am-4pm: Grand Masters Palace, Valletta
Venue 25th-26th of February – 10am-4pm:  MCAST, Mosta

We invite you to take part in a rare opportunity to serve on the Panel for Special Programmes, a public initiative allowing EU residents to suggest new prototype programmes to the EU

This three-day event will provide you the chance to design preferable paths for the EU, guided by future-visioning strategists from The Extrapolation Factory.

Over the course of the workshop, participants will be introduced to essential futures studies principles, and will learn to identify signals, extrapolate arcs, and to create future artifacts. We will envision programmes and work with local actors to tell the story through promotional videos which will be seen by residents, influential stakeholders, and European decision makers.

Join the workshops!
Make sure that your voice and your ideas will be heard.


 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EUArts Council MaltaValletta 2018Malta Collage of of Arts, Science and Technology

Supported By: 

 2017 Maltese presidency of the Council of the EU, Arts Council MaltaValletta 2018BKA-KunstLinz KulturKulturland OÖ




Remaking Worlds: Summer Futures Course Recap

We’re just back from the 3rd annual Innovation & Futures Thinking course taught at IED Barcelona, trying to catch a bit of rest and recovery. We’re also collectively taking some time for reflection on the course experience, what we learned along the way, and capture some ideas for doing things better/differently in future studio courses and workshops.

The 2-week course itself was tremendous. The backdrop of the city itself is always fantastic (though this year’s 35C weather required a bit more hydration). The instructor crew for this year—John WillshireAndres Colmenares, and Natalie Kane—as well as visiting coaching talent—Susan Cox-Smith and Joy Blundell—gave us a nice mix of structure and creativity, experience and fresh eyes, to guide the students through what is always a challenging process. Elisabet Roselló also joined us to provide local knowledge on field work day, as well as to add to the conversation as we built scenarios. 

The 16 students themselves were, of course, the best part. We were joined by a great mix of curious, clever folks from Brazil, China by way of Italy, Spain, Italy, Argentina, India, Greece, France, Canada, and Pakistan by way of the UK. Students brought professional background from management, UX, film and media, design, psychology, and social policy.

In this moment of building refugee crises, post-Brexit miasma and ongoing redefinition of identity, this year’s course looked at futures through the lenses of migration, citizenship and belonging, with more of an experiential focus. We began by immersing the class in new ways of thinking and structuring data and signals about human movement—capturing trends about technological identity, movement driven by climate and politics, emergence of new communities and maintenance of old ones in the face of dispersion, and a wide spectrum of related issues and trends.

The class then took two days to structure and flesh out a common timeline of the next 15 years as a scaffold on which to build a series of loosely connected scenarios. A day in the city looking for signals, evidence and inspiration related to these scenarios—around societal fragmentation, divergence into a global networked class and local work, emergence of new forms of community, and new digital identities—was followed by iterative shaping of narratives, personas and artefacts to form tangible futures the teams could share with each other. 

The outcomes were rich, imaginative, and insightful projects that gave us glimpses into these future scenarios through critical services, artefacts and interactions (see images below).

Refugeen: a near future UN-funded prototype to help resettle refugees from Turkey and Syria into Canada. Refugeen used a mix of native natural language WhatsApp chatbot-based intake and support, biometric identification, and holographic on-demand information.

Pick and Mix: an integration service for frequent travelers using socialization around local food as the central focus.

Better World: a global virtual community using the body as a natural interface that allows members to slip into an AR-like immersive environment. Temporary skin-based wearables provide the gateway connector to user-defined communities.

Hidden Secrets: another AR-based system, providing migrants and travelers a way to access secrets and insider knowledge placed by residents.

SIDI: a post-May biometric digital identity system created by an alt’s Ministry of Digital Identities. This project came with additional artefacts exploring personalized travel for someone passing through the SIDI system. 

Thanks again to the hard work of students and staff who made it all possible, including hat tips to Madeline Ashby and Fraser Hamilton for drop-ins.  See below for videos and pics of some of the student work and the class in action. 

IED Barcelona Innovation & Futures Thinking Final Project - Arjun Singh, Li Zhu, Carolina Jule
IED Barcelona Innovation & Futures Thinking Final Project - Amelie Marcombes, Raul Fornes, Vanessa Bulhoes
IED Barcelona Innovation & Futures Thinking Final Project - Natasha Iqbal, Anderson Penha, Ilan Chame.