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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Possible Futures

Possible Futures

In this surreal time of temporal suspense normality – or reality – seems on hold. There is a sense that we will not return to the same world we knew. Instead, we will have to adjust to a new normal. And yet, at this point we cannot see what this new world might look like.

It is becoming clear that, despite what we are often told, the future is not a logical evolution of the present. It is not inevitable. And while many of us will be hit hard by the manyfold consequences of the current crisis, this also has the potential to be a precious time to question the status quo and our practice as creatives.

With everything we create, we shape the future. But how often do we ask ourselves, whether the future we are creating today, is the future we want to live in tomorrow? And if it is not, what is it we do want, and what do we need to change to make that happen? Such inquiries create space for possibilities. There is no future, there are only possible futures.



The Possible Futures lecture series explores different ways to engage with and to shape our collective futures. It interrogates how the ability to ‘future’ can inform our practice as creatives, our actions and agency as citizens, and our responsibilities as beings on this planet.

In a series of lunch-time conversations we will hear from inspiring creatives, researchers, and activists that employ critical and speculative approaches to design and technology in their practice to question how ethical, inclusive, future facing our industry and the system beyond currently is.

Exploring various themes from human connections to mental health, and from accessibility and equality to sustainability, the create narratives around possible futures. Their work questions the status quo, creates debate and alternative scenarios, and aims to educate and empower us with a rich spectrum of alternatives. Alternatives to business and usual, and therefore, alternatives for our futures.


Session 1: Christine Wurth and Ava Aghakouchak

Christine is an interdisciplinary creative, graduate of the IA Lab and organiser of this lecture series. Ava, also a graduate of the Lab, is an architectural designer and currently a PhD candidate at the Bartlett. Christine and Ava present their work around human-machine interfaces and talk about bodies, technology, and related questions around augmentation, alienation, agency and consent.



Session 2: Cennydd Bowles

Cennydd is a designer and futurist with a focus on ethics. He talks about the theme of ‘building better worlds’, the role of designers and technologists in prototyping positive visions for the future and how design itself has to be reimagined for that purpose.



Session 3: J. Paul Neeley

J. Paul is a designer and researcher with a background in Service Design, Speculative Design, Design Research, and Strategy, consulting at Neeley Worldwide. In this lecture he talks about Speculative Design, ‘closing the loop’, and a New Kind of Design.



Session 4: Caroline Sinders

Caroline Sinders is a machine-learning-design researcher and artist. She presents some of her work and speaks about the need for design policy to acknowledge the power and impact of design in technology.



Session 5: Anab Jain

Anab is a designer, futurist, filmmaker, educator and Co-founder and Director of Superflux. She talks about the idea more-than-human politics and the practice of multi-species collaboration and creation.



Session 6: Mariana Pestana

Mariana is an architect, curator, and co-founder of the collective The Decorators. In this lecture she speaks about critical social practice and the role of fiction in design for an age marked by technological progress and an ecological crisis.



Session 7: Stuart Candy

Stuart is Director of Situation Lab and Associate Professor of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. He talks about social foresight and the potential of experiential futures to catalyse insight and change.



Session 8: Jack Newbury

Jack is a practice-based creative with a focus on critical projects regarding education, inclusivity, legislation and interaction. He presents his project Department for Inclusive Education and talks about the role of design as activism.