Design Futures

A neutral sentiment level belies the fact that human-centered design has expanded from the design of objects (industrial design) to the design of experiences (adding interaction design, visual design, and the design of spaces). The next step will be the design of system behavior. Read on to discover why you should employ design thinking to everything you and your organization does in the future.
What is changing?


  • Google is leading the way in web and interaction design at the moment and will continue to do so.


  • Innovation in the design, construction and management of African cities will make a disproportionate global impact in meeting the SDG s.
  • VR introduces a new design method for manufacturing, architecture, and other design-centric businesses.
  • Buildings themselves will make cities even greener by producing more energy than they consume and recycling their own water.
  • Engineered wood will become the cheapest way to construct tall buildings in the future.
  • Sierra Nevada will be designing habitats that are built on Earth and launched into space on rockets.
  • Energy demand for cooling in buildings will overtake demand for heating.
  • Quantum computers could identify and develop new medicines by vastly accelerating the computer-aided design of pharmaceutical compounds (minimising lengthy trial and error testing).
  • Taking VR and AR game tech into the world of building and manufacturing opens new opportunities and possibilities for design, collaboration, construction.
  • More cities will be thinking about the use of smart-city technologies for resilience, disaster mitigation and response.
  • Transportation planning will play a critical role in the design and development of the smart cities of the future especially in light of the “sharing economy” of consumer-to-consumer services such as ride-sharing schemes and home and office rental schemes.


  • Inspections of cell towers, buildings, bridges and more by intelligent drone will transform industries.
  • Predictive capabilities are already being used in industry and could be implemented in smart cities to help spot business trends, combat crime, determine real-time roadway traffic conditions and much more.
  • AI could be used to optimize the patrol strategy of anti-poaching agents and to design habitat preservation strategies to maximize the genetic diversity of endangered populations.

Design professionals

  • There will be a need for professionals with a working knowledge of VR design and development as well as specific subject matter expertise.
  • The specific future of packaging design to 2021 and 2026 is predicted to be determined by supply side technological trends and demand side consumer trends.


  • China could seize a lead in R&D, equipment manufacturing, and design.
  • Coupled with payment platforms digital identity services could enable financial inclusion and poverty alleviation for billions of people.
  • Researchers have made an important development in proton exchange membrane technology that could lead to the design of better fuel cells.
  • Providers of both goods and services that facilitate aging in place will place a rising premium on design with the needs of aging consumers in mind.
  • The next generation of economists will not necessarily need to design next-generation computer hardware but will have to follow trends in hardware development more closely in order to stay on the leading edge of what their models can do.
  • Engineers at Carnegie Mellon and elsewhere have designed “snakebots” that can maneuver in tight spaces and could be adapted for surveillance.
  • The growing emphasis on data will impact vision system design.
  • All plastic cups, cutlery and plates will need to be designed to be compostable in France according to a new law.
  • Medical companies could design self-assembling stents to reduce surgery times and improve patient outcome.
  • LED-based data speeds could operate 40 times faster than they do today if manufacturers alter the design of the phosphors that convert light from blue LEDs into the white light of LED lamps and luminaires.
  • The UK could have more flexibility in the design of its renewable energy support regimes.
  • Security experts have discovered a malware platform that’s so advanced in its design and execution that it could probably have been developed only with the active support of a nation-state.
  • The benefits of Nearly-Zero-Energy buildings in Europe will likely remain limited to new builds and a small number of refurbishments.
  • Automation will shift the role of humans more to exception based interactions and real-time, evidence-based decision making.
  • Scientists recently developed a flexible material that generates electricity from human movements and could someday be woven into clothing.
  • Engineers could create highly responsive motor control systems with a minimum number of components.



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