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Future as a client

Humans are clever. They can solve problems. There is hope.

I made this sketch 5 years ago, based on a quote by Designer Thomas Heatherwick.

At that time I was deeply worried. And actually, i still am:

There still are problems out there which threaten our future. And I am part of a discipline that claims to find creative solutions to problems.

I asked myself: if future were my client, what would she need from me?
And yes, i think future is female.

Fact is, i love her. And i also love working with her.

This is the Future cone, you see our current reality on the left. And this beautiful space of possibilities opening up.

I recently heard the phrase: creativity is intelligence playing. This is a huge playground.

Future doesn’t just happen. Preparing for it is not enough. We shape the future with every decision we take. I believe, we should have an idea of where we are heading to. How we want our future to look like. Therefore Future needs and deserves people who can imagine the new, the unknown. She needs designers. – and our innovation skills.

The problem is: future is a bad client

She has no clear strategy, no guidelines to follow and she has an incompetent marketing department. And: even more crucial: she has almost no budget.

When I first pitched my business idea – which is basically to focus on systemic design for the future – I was asked:

But what is this, are you talking about a foundation?

For me, that’s kind of crazy: working for the future is obviously not a business case. We can’t believe, we can earn a living by taking care of her – even tough she is – to me – the most precious thing we have.

But you remember:
We are clever, we can handle bad clients.

So nevertheless: We founded a company to explore and create for the future. And to earn our livings.

Because – In the words of Eckart von Hirschhausen:

We should not have to save the world on a voluntary basis after work, while others – or even we ourselves – destroy it

We should not have to save the world on a voluntary basis after work, while others – or even we ourselves – destroy it as a full-time job.

That is exactly where we start. One of our first projects is the future of money: it explores how we could shape our approach to money and value in a way that helps us protect our planet. We are also working on the future of water: How to integrate our human needs in the planets water cycles.

There is much more, there are a lot of elephants in the room to discuss, there is a lot of work waiting for designers.

So i want to encourage you, to imagine future as your client – or at least to imagine her sitting next to your client. If she is bored, then you are probably discussing trivialities.

Let’s try to make her happy. 💜

Miriam Nietlispach, April 2023

Plädoyer von Miriam anlässlich der Milan Design Weeks auf Einladung von Pro Helvetia und Swiss Design Associaton. Im September untersuchen wir das Thema anlässlich der Zurich Design Weeks in einem Workshop noch ein bisschen genauer > mehr Infos bei Miriam.