Over three days in July 2017, the second meeting of the Everyday Futures Network took place in the Wearable Senses Lab, Industrial Design Department, Eindhoven University of Technology. The specific aim of the Workshop was to enable Network members from a range of disciplinary backgrounds to experience and develop methods of making as a way of doing research. To this end, participants from the Everyday Futures Network were partnered with PhD students (who were experienced makers) from the ArcInTex European Training Network, to create thirteen workshop teams. The Workshop was supported by Design United, The Institute for Social Futures, and The Demand Centre.
The workshop was based on three propositions:
- Future everyday life is certain to be different from today.
- Making and deploying new artefacts forms a distinct approach to exploring and developing knowledge about this future and how it gets made.
- Even though futures might require and witness systemic change, it is in altered everyday lives that such change is realised and experienced.
In this context, making and deploying provides a way to research possible and preferable futures (Urry, 2016), which we did by asking ‘what if…?’ with design research artefacts inspired by the idea of ‘Designing to Know’ (Wakkary 2016).
The 3 day workshop was organised in three parts: ‘Getting Equipped’, ‘Making’ and ‘Exhibiting-Reflecting’. ‘Getting equipped’ involved a series of short talks and workshops which focussed on: ‘designing to know’; developing ‘what if…?’ questions about future everyday life; and, giving these questions material form.
Participants were given a tour of the making facilities, in a hands-on workshop they were encouraged to think with materials and think through making, and in a dance workshop they explored the body, materiality and space.
On Day 2, the workshop teams focussed on finalising their ‘what if…?’ questions, and materialising these questions in an artefact. A series of ‘making’ sessions were interspersed with group presentation and discussion, a process which was made possible by expertise and assistance from the Wearable Senses Lab and D-search lab of the TU Eindhoven. The ‘What if…?’ questions included:
What if we could charge up our physical bodies and share energy via textiles?
What if electricity could be quantified in a visible, experiential way?
What if data could take up room to create intimacy?
On Day 3, the final prototypes were brought together in an Exhibition, attended by TU/e and ArcInTexETN colleagues. Exhibits included the prototype together with a template showing the exhibit title, the ‘What if…?’ question, the future everyday narrative which the prototype inhabits and a key reflection on making as a way of researching everyday futures.
The exhibition was followed by a discussion session which focused on the following questions:
- What different ways of thinking about the future and the everyday can you distinguish in the research artefacts?
- What are the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ for making a good research artefact?; How has the process differed from, or aligned with your own research practice?
- And what is particular about making as a way of doing research?
A series of ‘Artefact Blogs’ were authored by the workshop teams following the workshop. These blogs introduce the research artefacts and their associated making process. Three of the research artefacts were selected by an expert jury during the exhibition and was exhibited at Mind the Step, as part of the Dutch Design Week 2017. Our analysis of the workshop and its findings were presented at Anticipation2017, London, 8th-10th November.
Our thanks to our colleagues from ArcInTexETN and TU/e for their contributions to the event, including Ron Wakkary, Oscar Tomico, Joep Frens, Sietske Klooster, Nicole Gruithuijzen, Chet Bangaru, Dimitra, Brigitte and Lonneke, LUCID, Froukje Sleeswijk-Visser, Kristina Andersen, and to all the workshop participants.