What challenges might designers be addressing in 30 years time?

As Design Week marks its 30th birthday we ask designers to imagine what sort of design challenges they could be faced with in 30 years time.

Sophie Thomas, founding director, Thomas Matthews
Sophie Thomas, founding director, Thomas Matthews

“A techno-enabled future is closer than you think and has the potential to fill our lives with abundance. Imagine: your washing machines self-fixes, an algorithm waters your plants, your house creates the energy to heat itself. A molecular assembler 3D prints almost anything on demand – your breakfast, transportation, a new heart. The question is what will we do with ourselves when the internet and low production costs free us all from work and want? Perhaps this is the way to create a world that shifts us on to a different path, away from resource scarcity and towards one which recognises human social value. If this is the case we had better crack on with designing it.”


Matthew Cockerill, creative director, Seymourpowell
Matthew Cockerill, creative director, Seymourpowell

“Rather like the black cab drivers of today we’ll be adjusting to the implications of disruptive technologies. ‘Sentient design’ driven by AI and advances in the level of ‘abstraction’ of design and production tools mean many aspects of today’s design process will be automated and so require less people. Product and brand experiences will be sentient, adapting and learning as they are used. User insights, opportunities and desires will be able to be identified and feedback into the experience in real time rather than in the design process of today further challenging the relevance of human designers in the system.” 


Ally Le Sueur, operations manager, 3fD (3form Design)
Ally Le Sueur, operations manager, 3fD (3form Design)

“Fashion in design has always been driven by technological advances. Manufacturing processes in the next 30 years are going to liberate design of the constraints that dictate today’s form. Advances in 3D printing will allow designers to make single components that are made up of more than one material. Structural, flexible, conductor, non conductor and so on all in one part. No split lines, no tooling limitations. Imagine the possibilities. All the rules will change. Form and function will actually be inherent in the parts. Designers that will thrive will be those able to apply the aesthetics with an engineering understanding.”


Tom Sharp, creative director, The Beautiful Meme
Tom Sharp, creative director, The Beautiful Meme

“2047 Design Week Voxpop topics. Can an agency with both Earth and Offworld studios service clients as well? AI account directors – should they get involved in creative? Earth Emperor Trump’s new brand – nice or nasty? Brain patches – which classic-era designer’s thoughts would YOU want?  Quantum uncertainty principle logos – short-lived craze or here (and there) to stay? WPP City – what do you think of Heatherwick’s new town hall for Mayor Sorrell? Living in a computer simulation – is the job of a designer more or less meaningful? The new Apple Sexbot – an upgrade too far?”


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