Design for Future Needs

I stumbled across this nice project this morning: Design for Future Needs. It's a EU project that aimed at discovering how designers' methods (to look into the future to meet people’s needs) can be transfered to policy makers.

The project, ran for the European Commission by a group of European design and business organisations, has researched how design techniques for envisioning the future can benefit EC decision-makers’ foresight planning and policy work. The project is aiming to help them respond to emerging issues and trends from environmental pressures to technological change.

The final report is here (.pdf).It's very well documented with good introduction on foresight and design. The most interesting parts IMO are the case studies:

  • Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5: it looks at the development of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 in the UK. The study looks at what lessons we can learn about where and how to site airports and what technologies and environments will make it easier for everyone involved with air travel.
  • Humantec 'Reflexive Spaces': Humantec examines how changing working patterns will demand the development of different forms of office and home furniture in the next decade. If we spend more time working at home, how will our houses look? Will we need more “multi-function” furniture to cope with our different roles? As the technology in our offices has changed, office furniture has often been slow to catch up. Wireless technologies in development today may get rid of the cabling curled beneath our desks, but will unwieldy chairs and desks still tether us to one place?
  • Whirlpool "Project F": the case study aims to understand forecasting techniques’ role in the development of products ad services by focusing on two recent Whirlpool research projects. One looked at the needs of couples in various European countries to build up a picture of domestic life, and the other explored customer preferences in relation to the laundry process.
  • Decathlon: The case study looks at design forecasting techniques and their impact on the New Product Development process, as well as considering how design can be used as a forecasting tool.