The future will always remain with it a degree of uncertainty, but designers need to be continually propositional in identifying trends and acting upon them. In previous moments in history, time was viewed as linear or circular. However, since the rapid advancement of the modern world, issues such as sustainability and consumerism are exponentially growing and shifted this thinking. Time is now centred on survival, as society faces an ecological battle – the threat of human extinction. Time is no longer an abstract concept, but rather one that is running out, where the rate of constant and unnecessary consumption will eventually drive humanity into non-existence.
Film director Ridley Scott foreshadowed this exact future scenario in his 1982 film Blade Runner. The futuristic dystopian society is set only twenty-seven years ahead of time, yet the natural world is lost in almost every aspect. Through its mass consumption by feeding off artificial creations, the world continues to evolve into a desperate place. Engulfed in industrial pollution, the adverse effects on the environment have created an ecological disaster. Furthermore, the tenebrous world is lit up by the harsh lights of corporate advertisements that saturate the city, highlighting consumerism in its extreme state.
Similar future scenarios in which a few organic food items cost an almost incomprehensible $219 in science fictional’s article “Total: $219” translate the scarcity of natural products in the future. This links back to notion that despite all items, whether manufactured or organic, everything will eventually become obsolete as humanity continues to consume unnecessary goods for its own short-term pleasures. With additional drivers of change such as urbanisation, it is only a matter of time before the world depletes into a lifeless place. The previous concept of time being merely a biological clock in which generation after generation would be able to reproduce is becoming less likely, with trends of the growing elderly population means an increasingly populated globe. If consumerism is not dealt with in the present, it will not be long before the world cannot sustain any more people with the number resources are being used.
The rate in which society consumes is so great that many people in certain parts of the developed world are now considered to consume twenty individuals worth of resources. The future is what society brings about both individually and collectively, where “Many of the ecological and economic difficulties that we face today are not the results of a single decision but are the sum of many decisions.” (Wickman, K. 2005, pp. 55). As designers, it is vital to recognise all our designs interact and effect with the earth, whether through the process of its creation or end use. As a community, is it critical to limit consumption to our needs and necessities rather than succumbing to impulsive wants. Today, designers have the ability to make and shape the future, where it is important to remember “The field of design both reflects and influences trends” (Robach, C. 2005, pp. 31).
Science fictional. 2013, ‘Total: $219′, weblog, viewed 4 July 2013, <http://sciencefictional.net/2013/04/12/total-219/>.
Fry, T. 2011, ‘Time, Things and Futures‘, Zoontechnica, No. 1.
Blade Runner 1982, motion picture, Warner Bros. Pictures, United States.
Brooker, W. (ed.) 2005, The Legacy of a Science Fiction Classic The Blade Runner Experience, Wallflower Press, Great Britain.
The Courier Mail 2013, Are you human or android? Take the test, viewed 4 July 2013, <http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/are-you-human-or-android-take-the-test/story-fn6ck45n-1226380852714#content>.
WordPress 2013, Blade Runner Opening Scene, viewed 4 July 2013, <http://milnersblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/blade-runner-explosion-future-noir.jpg>.
SHIFT: Design as usual – or a new rising? 2005, Arvinius Forlag, Stockhold, Sweden.