Machines. Materials. Narratives.
The Design Futures Lab is a trans-disciplinary design research group housed in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University. The lab is directed by a Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor Nicole Koltick who provides broad oversight and directs a variety of projects under a cohesive research agenda. The lab pursues speculative design research with a focus on novel processes, narratives and aesthetics. The discernment of relevant and plausible near-future developments in science and technology are translated into tangible design outcomes. The lab provides a conceptual framework and sets up a series of trans-disciplinary exchanges to nurture and develop research from a speculative phase to designed prototypes of objects, experiences and environments for the near and far future.
Design Futures is an emerging field of design practice and it seeks to engage with a vast array of complex, multi-disciplinary problems which fall outside the scope of traditional boundaries of practice. The formulation of critical conceptual stances which engage a tangled and diverse set of emerging future challenges includes a rigorous and thoughtful approach to the dynamics of complex systems, ecologies at a variety of scales and the potential of the designer to intervene in more disruptive, imaginative and nuanced capacities
The resilient, multi-faceted and agile skill set of the design researcher will only become more imperative as our discipline increasingly integrates and coordinates technology and innovations from a variety of disciplines into our environments. The lab engages with a wide array of complex entanglements negotiating between the biological, the technological, the philosophical and the computational.
Experimental approaches to process are crucial to the lab’s methodology. Procedural approaches vary greatly from discipline to discipline, and we seek to leverage procedural innovations across disciplines to find the most relevant methods by which to explore a given narrative. The lab pursues formal design research through software, hardware and material experimentation with extensive exploration of digital fabrication methods and material innovations. Additionally the lab explores enhanced interaction scenarios which deploy embedded technology including a variety of electronics, sensors, robotics and micro-controllers. Our recent multi-year project Phenomenal Machines examines speculative robotics and synthetic ecologies for the near future. Our outputs include writing, film, objects for exhibition and collaborations across science, technology, engineering, fashion, art & design.
Seeking Students to Join our Team