The Master in Design for Emergent Futures is an immersive learning program that focuses on Barcelona city as an experimental playground, in which design can be used to understand, develop, test and speculate interventions that respond to the wicked problems of our time.
The master evolves the practice of design beyond objects, aesthetics, form finding and pure speculation through an approach of ‘designing interventions’ and hands-on-learning. The approach enhances the technical capabilities of designers in digital fabrication and synthetic biology in order for them to physically explore their ideas. On the other hand, the approach elevates the critical thinking of designers and provides them with communication tools and philosophical understanding to build new narratives about the possible futures that can be triggered in the urban context of today.
The biosphere, financial markets, family structures and business models are being challenged in one of the most important transition periods of human history.
While the industrial revolution produced innumerable benefits to society, we are now confronted with a plethora of complex and interconnected problems that challenge our productive model: climate emergency, social inequality and the centralisation of wealth and power. The moment is now for us to formulate new questions for technology and to redefine its role in society, to create promising and viable emergent futures for humanity to thrive, not just survive.
Design is a powerful tool for transformation. But designing emergent futures is not about looking for moonshots or massive solutions to solve all our problems at once. Instead, it proposes the creation of learning environments to experiment and speculate with new narratives around desired futures. It calls for the design of small-scale, sustained interventions to approach large-scale challenges; it looks to scalable approaches to dissolve wicked problems at multiple scales, instead of solving them with single shots.
MDEF is one of the newest programs at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia. It collects the solid design and academic knowledge of Elisava School of Design and Engineering, professional and research experience of Fab Lab Barcelona and the pioneering distributed education model for digital fabrication of the global Fab Academy program.