Designers are changing your world – count the ways.

Blue, wires, wall, designers, innovation


Walk around your house and (unless you’ve just moved into a new one) have a look at the things that sit idle. I’m not talking about the ornaments and pictures, but the fittings that used to do something, that don’t anymore.

At the weekend, we had a blitz in our place. Admittedly, it’s been a while since we got rid of anything major to release space. As the family grows up, so do the collections of ‘important’ possessions.

What we did do, though, was tear out cables. We had ISDN and phone sockets with white wires following skirting boards. There’s a TV aerial and a satellite dish. We had a collection of spaghetti behind the TV that used to feed various things. It all went.

Free-to-air has allowed us to take the aerial off the roof and ditch the recording box. Mobile phones make the extra landline sockets redundant, wifi removes the need for extension cables, and iPads take TVs out of bedrooms.

This isn’t de-stuffocation, but a by-product of looking at the way it’s always been –differently.

So, technology releases space. No surprise there, although…I also found that, for three of us we have a desk top, three laptops, four iPads, a current phone each and a collection of old phones and iPods at the back of a cupboard. Three Nanos, two Shuffles, a couple of Nintendo DS consoles and seven external hard drives. These were the layers of techno-strata that made up the last ten years of our lives. Even the hard drives ranged from the size of an encyclopaedia* to twenty B&H* (*look those up).

The infrastructure that we know is altering our relationship with hardware, software and each other. The change is subtle and unrelenting. Here are a few to look out for:

The pleasure of driving is mostly a con.

Sitting in your box to commute while glued to the steering wheel with just a radio for distraction is not pleasurable. Nipping out to collect a child from Brownies or karate is not fun. Required, responsible, essential even – but it isn’t fun. Even driving around a track at 200mph gets a bit tedious after a while. The motor manufacturers who are reshaping car cockpits to remove the steering wheel, and turn your conveyance from a forward-facing item of necessity into a place of social and commercial activity, are seeing your future. Have a look at the Audi Aicon as just one example.

Your new home is your old home.

In the UK, there’s a persistent drive to build new homes in every region. Demand is outstripping supply, and builders require materials to keep up.

Problem: the materials aren’t there – at least as we know them. You simply can’t grow hard wood that fast,and there’s a world limit on availability of sand. I wrote about this back in 2017 (Why is sand interesting to innovation? We’re running out).

Quietly, the feedstock to the new home building industry has become recycled. It’s estimated that 60% of the material used in new home construction is recycled in some way. That’s a big percentage, and the trend will continue. The processes that sit behind the supply chain in its new design go a bit beyond digging and cutting now.

Pokemon was your guide.

Who are you? Do you understand virtual reality, fail to see the relevance, or simply don’t read about it? Whatever your inclination, VR is coming to a device near you. Fight it all you want, you won’t avoid it.

Oh, hang on a minute, you already use it, so what’s the big deal? Augmented reality apps such as sat nav and shopping scanners are a step in the VR direction, and this may lead you into the mixed media world unconsciously.

You might be able to use Google Daydream or Oculus to transport you to a different place while Pokemon changes your world where you are. Enjoy what’s coming.

Seeing it differently. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.