Predicting the Future At The V&A Museum

Soon to open in London in just a few days time on 12th May, an exhibition at the world renowned Victoria and Albert Museum  titled “The Future Starts Here” will reveal 100 objects that have been curated as a guide to help predict the future of the world in which we live.

Traditionally known as a Museum showcasing temporary and permanent exhibitions of the present and of the past, this will be the first time that they have turned their eye to the concept of the future.
The exhibition’s curators Marianna Pestana, architect and independent curator, alongside Rory Hyde, the V&A’s curator of contemporary architecture and urbanism, believe that in fact the future is virtually impossible to predict with any accuracy, despite focussing their attention on this idea for months preceeding the exhibition’s opening to the public.

Because there is no guarantee what the future holds, there is instead the notion that each design, each concept or idea, brings with it positive and negative outcomes.
“That’s why” say Rory and Marianna,  “we have the title The Future Starts Here — we’re looking at beginnings.” [Reference Dezeeen].

We referred to Dezeen who hand picked 10 of these designs of which we have cherry picked a few of our favourites to share with our readers:

Eve drone by Hydroswarm

The exhibition will include geoengineering with a look at how design will work to oppose the effects that global warming has on the world.

“Here’s where we deal with climate change, the fact that we are living in a time of deep ecological mutation, and we humans are responsible for many of the transformations that are now occurring in terms of climate change,” said Pestana.  “If we’ve designed climate change, can we design our way out of it?”  [Reference Dezeen].

Being able to document and gather information in this sphere can make way for much change, as referenced by the Eve drones by Hydroswarm.  The researcher behind this start up designed special drones to map the undiscovered parts of the earth’s oceans of which there are still substantial areas.

“The Hydroswarm is an unmanned robot that explores a lesser-known part of the globe,” said Pestana. “It rolls and finds its way around the oceans.”  [Reference Dezeen].

Eenmaal restaurant by Marina van Goor

One imagines plenty of tech stuff here, but not all design is high tech as showcased by this restaurant concept by Dutch designer Marina van Goor.

The space features one seater tables, and raises the debate of – “We are all connected, but are we still lonely?”

“It’s designed to break this taboo of eating alone in public,” said Hyde. “Almost 30 per cent of households in the UK are people who live alone, but there’s some sort of social limit on eating alone in public, so by creating a restaurant of only solo tables you can break that.” [Reference Dezeen].

“It’s not just a technology exhibition; it’s a future exhibition,” he continued. “We’re looking at these broader trends in demographics and politics as well as technology. We would call this restaurant a social technology in the sense that it’s a kind of space and construct that allows a different kind of activity to take place.” [Reference Dezeen].

The Pussyhat by Kat Coyle, Jayna Zweiman and Krista Suh 

Another aspect of the exhibition features themes around new forms of demogratic government and “objects of protest”.  The exhibitions curators identified the  Pussyhat  – “an object made iconic by political demonstrators in 2017..”   They selected the design for their top 100 due to its significance as part of protest movements and the actual
way that the “Pussyhat” spread.   In essence, a simple knitting pattern for a hat was made accessible for anyone to reproduce.
“The hat is a kind of social technology,” said Pestana. “Each person knitted a hat and then they wore it, most famously at the Women’s March on Washington to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Each person individually made a hat, but collectively they became a crowd, they made a sea of pink. That’s a very powerful thing that design can do — to allow people to exist as a group.”  [Reference Dezeen].
Facebook’s Aquila droneOne of the Exhibitions largest design objects is a drone designed by Facebook named Aquila.  With a wingspan of 40 metres, its function is to provide internet access to unconnected parts of the world.  It will be suspended from the ceiling of the V&A museum space.The Aquila drone is solar powered, and unmanned.  An added feature of this  “moving infrastructure” is that the atmosphere is being included as an additional site for design,  not just the ground or underground, as curator Marianna Pestana interestingly points out.
Victoria and Albert Museum Shaping the futurenVisible Virtual Reality by Nanotronics
And finally under our pick is a Nanotronics microscope and accompanying visualisation (if you are stuck on what Nanotronics is!… click on the word’s link) .  The curators of the exhibition raise a series of questions that the designs they have chosen relate to, one of these questions is “What makes us human?””To build the future you have to see it, and Nanotronics do these incredible VR experiences of very small visualisations,” said Pestana. “The nano field of the body — with DNA sequencing for example — is a new field of design. It’s very radical. This is where a lot of experiments are happening.” [Reference Dezeen].Those visiting the exhibition will have the opportunity to wear a VR headset and experience walking over a selection of nanosized samples.

“You’ll be able to navigate a set of samples of a human cell, a strand of hair, a vegetable cell,” continued Pestana. “It’s almost like a Google map, but a beautiful one, like a video game that takes you through the inside of your body.” [Reference Dezeen].

After digesting the highlights, we can’t wait to see The Future Starts Here exhibition for ourselves!