I watched two videos this afternoon, the first was Design Fiction by Jill Nussbaum and the second was Future Mundane by Nick Foster, both videos had their merits but my post today is about the video by Foster.
The three key points of his video are essentially his own created rules to the future mundane, I will state those rules and then explore each rule to summarise his video highlighting some interesting examples in my own opinion before coming to a close.
1. The Future Mundane is filled with background talent (Foster, 2013)
In short this rule is telling you to focus your ideas towards your user, the example talks about film in particular science fiction where most films have a focal hero character that goes through extraordinary things to justify being the hero. Most people won’t go through what that person goes through but they are just as interesting and just as complex, but the problems they face are more real and less exciting, but good design in these areas will make far more of an impact.
Figure 1 – Tom Cruise in Minority Report – Cereal Scene (Speilberg, 2002)
Tom Cruise is highlighed as the example hero in the main video, ironically though as the clip above shows, there are moments where he encounters interactions with products of the future that fall more in line with the everyday person.
It is also stated that designing for the hero, making aspirational products, creates hierarchy and in turn can make people feel inferior and those are qualities that shouldn’t be a part of his vision for future design. Even though Elon Musk’s Hyperloop is not something of reality for now, it was released with enough information to encourage designers to come forward and work on making his idea a reality as explored below.
Figure 2 – A company aiming to make Elon Musk’s vision a reality. (CNN Money, 2015)
2. The Future Mundane is an accretive space (Foster, 2013)
This rule talks about the habits of people and how we approach our possessions, that we tend to gather and accumulate items, we keep items of personal importance, we prefer to reappropriate and repurpose our products than just to remove and start fresh with new technology and no sentimentality or history. The attachment to memories with a modern repurpose is well explored in the television show ‘Black Mirror’ in the episode trailer below.
Figure 3 – The Everyday History of You – Black Mirror (Brooker, 2011)
Another key point is that many fantasy concepts lack context and feel even more isolated as a result, his statement is that we need to be able to relate to these designs to feel any kind of connection to them, for example it would be more interesting to detail these concepts in real situations, how will it fit into our existing lives and reshape our habits and behaviour.
Figure 4 – Moon, a film that mixed the future design with our own attachment to personal objects of the past in the unique setting of the moon. (Jones, 2009)
3. The Future Mundane is a bit broken (Foster, 2013)
This point refers specifically to imperfection, concepts of the future are glossy and aspirational and usually work perfectly, Foster argues that we have technology today that has it’s flaws and that we adapt our behaviour to cope with those imperfections and there is no reason why that won’t continue as we advance into the future.
Figure 5 – Curious Rituals – This video highlights how technology and culture cross over and sometimes clash, how language and gesture make our life alongside technology sometimes more stressful than simple (Nova, 2014)
In most concepts there are two outcomes to future design, Utopia suggests good and harmony and distopia suggests bad and turmoil with not much places inbetween the two extremes. Foster wants to see how breakage is explored in future design, we should be honest enough to expect things to not always go as expected. What should we look out for as designers, again it links back into how our user will experience the product and where it fits into their life as a whole.
Figuere 6 – 2001, A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968) is referenced in both videos and highlighted as one of the finest examples of design fiction, it was stated that Kubrick reached out to manufacturers to feature their products in the film as well as his attention to research and detail this film was far ahead of it’s time and considered a classic today.
His closing statement is that designers hold on to ideas so tightly and want to make things perfect in that ultimately to create better ideas we have to be open to the mundane and imperfections that are normal even with products we admire today.
Brooker, C. (2011). Black Mirror | The Entire History of You | Channel 4. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bFCqK81s7Y [Accessed 1 May 2017].
CNN Money. (2015). 700 mph in a tube: The Hyperloop experience. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A7GsAPR3J0 [Accessed 1 May 2017].
Foster, N. (2013). The Future Mundane – Core77. [online] Core77. Available at: http://www.core77.com/posts/25678/the-future-mundane-25678 [Accessed 1 May 2017].
Jones, D. (2009). “Moon” – Official Trailer [HQ]. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twuScTcDP_Q [Accessed 1 May 2017].
Kubrick, S. (1968). 2001: A Space Odyssey Official Re-Release Trailer (2014) – Stanley Kubrick Movie HD. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHjIqQBsPjk [Accessed 1 May 2017].
Nova, N. (2014). Curious rituals – Gerardo. [online] Vimeo. Available at: https://vimeo.com/75897316 [Accessed 1 May 2017].
Speilberg, S. (2002). minority report cereal. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccCJfwnFU_Q [Accessed 1 May 2017].