Agency for the Future: Design and the Quest for a Better World

Posted on: 17. August 2022

“The title of this year’s symposium points to a dual meaning. On one hand, it highlights Singapore’s unique approach, based on modelling, prototyping, testing, and perfecting solutions for preferable futures, as in a design process. On the other hand, it points to individual citizens and their ability and responsibility. Who has agency to determine and build the future? It is not only official bodies or corporations; agency lies in each of us, through the decisions we make and the actions we take every day.”

– Paola Antonelli, Curatorial Director


Developed by Curatorial Director Paola Antonelli, the Design Futures Symposium 2022 will focus on the design of the future and the future of design, assembling a host of distinguished designers and thinkers from Singapore and around the world. Together they will probe some of the critical ways in which design is fundamental to strategies for the future; and an enzyme for progress.

A diverse line up of content and speakers will address issues such as design approaches to complexity, systems and prototypes; the imperative of regenerative design; designing for local and global challenges such as ageing populations and dense, low-carbon cities; how design can optimise human experience within the rest of nature; and how design can harness technology to build a better and more inclusive future. Look out for the full line-up of speakers – to be announced soon with full programme outline!

Programme Overview:

-Session 1-

In four main segments, the first session of the symposium will investigate system thinking and the practice of prototyping as key concepts to engage with complexity and envision a better future for all. Systems and prototypes are also pillars of the design process, and critical ingredients of any future-facing project. Singapore is a design in continuous progress, a highly complex system, and an exquisitely prototyping city. The first session will probe the potential of these concepts via past and future examples of projects at all scales that use design to address critical challenges that are specific to Singapore and might inspire the rest of the world.

-Session 2-

In two main segments, the pre-dinner session will open our gaze to the world – to the local, regional and global systems; to the world of design; to the role of designers and citizens, and the agency we have to steer our course. Focal points will be regenerative and investigative modes for design, and their expansive circumferences of impact; and the role of innovation, particularly with reference to how technology can be a force for good when grounded in healthy values and constructive vision.

-Session 3-

The final session will refocus on Singapore, seen through the eyes of designers, both local and international, that are engaging with its future. In two main segments using Singapore – a model compact city – as a reference point, this session will consider what could come from a reframing of the metrics of cities through a less technical lens, and how resilience could be developed and harnessed as a result to help cities thrive and flourish.

F U R T H E R   I N F O R M A T I O N

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