The Master in Design for Emergent Futures (MDEF) is organised by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia and ELISAVA Barcelona School of Design and Engineering, in collaboration with the Fab Academy.

The Master is a nine-month experience (currently, the second year is being developed) for students who want to expand their focus interests and acquire the skills to turn protests into prototypes, ideas into actions, and who are engaged in the mission of transforming the current status of affairs in society. The programme is structured in four critical steps: Exploration, Instrumentation, Reflection and Application. Through these four steps, the master aims to provide strategic vision and tools for designers, sociologists, economists and computer scientists, to become agents of change in multiple professional environments. The programme focus is in the design of interventions in the form of products, platforms and deployments that aim to produce new emergent futures, by previously analysing the current challenges in society and industry.

Students will be encouraged to work at multiple scales (from bits to geography) in order to design and test interventions in the real world. The theoretical and practical content in this programme proposes an exploratory journey to comprehend and critique the role of disruptive technologies –digital fabrication, the blockchain, synthetic biology, Artificial Intelligence, among others– in the transformation of the established order. At the same time, during the MDEF students will develop a hybrid profile that mixes various sets of skills (technical and human) that will be applied in the implementation of projects.

Graduates of this masters will have a wide and informed vision of the impact of technology in businesses, education, society and culture, and will be prototyping and testing some of these technologies in the studios (research, design and development). During the master, a series of potential collaborations with industry, government and other professional sectors will be encouraged in order to develop more impactful projects. IAAC and Fab Lab Barcelona have collaborated with the following organisations: Nike, IKEA, Airbus, Festool, Ajuntament de Barcelona, UN-Habitat and others. ELISAVA has collaborated with companies like Agbar, Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard, DUPONT, SUEZ, SEAT, Yamaha, among others.

Edition  3rd edition
Degree Master in Design for Emergent Futures
Directors Tomás Díez, Oscar Tomico
Credits 75 ECTS
Duration 9 months from October 2020 to June 2021 – Full Time
Language English
Tuition Fees Non-EU: 16.000 €
EU: 12.800 €
Admission Bachelor or higher degree in Industrial Design, Product Design, Urban Design, Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Computer Science, Engineering (Mechanical, Chemical, Product, Material), Sociology, Anthropology, Economy, and other related professions.


The Master in Design for Emergent Futures (MDEF) is organised in three terms (Oct-Dec, Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun), each including Design Studios, a Research Trip, complementary Seminars and related events.

The Design Studios are the main part of the programme: they focus on real-world experimentation and socio-technical development. During the year, students will be developing technical, aesthetic and conceptual skills by working on real-life scenarios. Seminar sessions are designed to delve into specific domains of knowledge and are delivered by relevant experts, including both practitioners and scholars. Throughout the academic year, international experts in the field of design and emergent technologies will be contributing to the programme as guest lecturers.

In this master, we will not teach students a methodology, neither a set of golden rules to be applied in given assignments. Instead, we introduce the MDEF as a journey and exploration on how projects can be manifestos to introduce new outputs.

We would like to support students in developing their identity and vision and encourage them to develop their unique set of skills, knowledge and attitude in order to navigate the uncertainty while designing possible futures. The Master in Design for Emergent Futures is a journey in time and multiple dimensions, which when intersected open a new point of view, understanding and translating ideas into projects. These dimensions are:

Exploration: We will expose the students to a set of technologies that have the capacity to disrupt our present understanding of society, industry and the economy.

Reflection: We will support the students in developing their identity and a set of skills, knowledge and attitude as designers of possible futures.

Instrumentation: We will provide a set of skills and tools that will help to translate ideas into prototypes, and prototypes into products, which can be tested and iterated throughout the design process.

Application: We will encourage students to create a culture of making, where prototyping acts as a generator of knowledge, and interventions become message carriers of a future that is about to arrive.

The Master in Design for Emergent Futures is offering to first-year students the possibility to pursue their project development with a second-year programme in Barcelona (Spain) in partnership with other global partners. The MDEF second year will allow students to further develop their innovation project through our model of accelerated development, which will be focused in turning final projects of the master program into living platforms for research, business development, or impact in the maker community.

Developing a student project to a professional level can take different directions. The results can range from the knowledge developed and its contribution to academia, to setting up a business model plan or creating an open source community. We offer a unique approach to combine these three dimensions to develop student projects: academia, business generation, and maker communities. We aim to incubate and accelerate projects by helping them to scale and develop distribution and sustainability strategies.

Space10 has been collaborating with the MDEF to offer, during this second-year programme, a six-weeks-long company residency in Copenhagen (Denmark) for one of the students. The selected student will receive some financial aid including a monthly budget to cover fees such as accommodation costs, a working space, transportation and all the materials needed for him/her to develop the project.

The Master in Design for Emergent Futures is connected with the Exploring Emergent Futures platform at the Royal College of Art, London, which has been developed by James Tooze and Tomas Diez from 2015. And is now led by James and Elizabeth Corbin.

MDEF – First Year

The programme is structured as it follows:

September – December: Introductory courses and philosophical/ theoretical background.

APPLICATION – Research studio. Establishing an area of interest, analysis and research. Definition of topic and direction of the final project.

REFLECTION – Design identities and methods. A day in the life of hybrid designers from Barcelona. Building knowledge, skills and attitude as a designer

INSTRUMENTATION – Introduction to digital fabrication. Distributed manufacturing and Industry 4.0

EXPLORATION – Data and information in the digital age. Communications, computation, change theory

January – March: Design for Emergent Futures Studio 2: Making possible future speculations.

APPLICATION – Design Studio: Project-oriented. Understand, develop and propose. Applied research and instrumentations.

REFLECTION – Design approaches: Emergent Design trends, create your design identity and vision.

INSTRUMENTATION – Fab Academy (how to make almost anything): principles and practices, project management, computer-aided design, computer-controlled cutting, electronics production, 3D scanning and printing, electronics design, computer-controlled machining, embedded programming, mechanical design, output devices, machine design.

EXPLORATION – Emergent technologies: How Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology, Digital Fabrication, Robotics are changing everything?

March: Midterm review

April – June: Design for Emergent Futures Studio 3: Making possible future speculations.

APPLICATION – Design Studio: Project-oriented. Interventions in reality. Applied research

REFLECTION – Materialising possible speculations: Roles of prototyping, from demos to research products.

INSTRUMENTATION – Fab Academy (how to make almost anything): moulding and casting, input devices, composites, networking and communications, interface and application programming, applications and implications, invention, intellectual property, and income.

EXPLORATION – Future business models: Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, open source business models, cryptocurrencies and cryptomarkets.

  • June: Project development and Final Presentation

MDEF – Second Year

The program is organized in four plus one (4+1) phases:

Research, development and implementation of projects during one year. Projects are aimed to have multiple exits, they could be considered as an incubation (business), research (education) or development (social) process to increase the impact of interventions in the real world.

*To Be Announced.


The MDEF programme is recommended for designers, sociologists, computer scientists, economists, anthropologists, technology entrepreneurs and changemakers who are looking for a hybrid career path to conceive and produce impactful ideas to transform the world. This Master has a high component of hands-on learning and project-based learning where students will be requested to transform big ideas into design strategies, prototypes and interventions to be tested in the real world, focused on Barcelona but connected globally with other cities.

Candidates for the Master in Design for Emergent Futures are professionals coming from Industrial Design, Product Design, Urban Design, Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Computer Science, Engineering (Mechanical, Chemical, Product, Material), Sociology, Anthropology, Economy, and other related professions.

Upon successful completion of the master, the students will join the IAAC and ELISAVA Alumni Communities. IAAC Alumni Community is an active and dynamic network of visionary professionals spread around the world, promoting principles and applications of digital fabrication, design and architecture, exploring new academic and research initiatives, leading award-winning practices or working for internationally acclaimed firms and institutions.

ELISAVA alumni have the mission of promoting the constant personal and professional development of ELISAVA former students. For this reason, it is built as a participative space open to diversity, and orientated to motivate leadership, cooperation, and entrepreneurship through strategic values such as design, technology, with the purpose of giving answers to the needs of nowadays society.


Our scholarship competition has now finished and we’re unable to accept any more scholarship applications for this year. If you would like to find out when the competition is reopening, please subscribe to our newsletter where we will make the announcement.





At the Master in Design for Emergent Futures (MDEF) programme we want to make possible new realities by intersecting technology convergence with global challenges. In this sense, we are aiming to build narratives of the future from a different perspective that we are used to. Instead of creating fixed scenarios on how the future will look like, we want to know how we are going to make it there, and which will be the main challenges we will face.


We are not looking for a description of the 2019 Los Angeles depicted in the first Blade Runner movie, we want you to tell us about the path to get to possible futures in 2050, what we might find ahead, closer to Kavafis’ description of the trip to Ithaca.




We want you to write a science fiction story (1000 words maximum) illustrated with one image about the future of anything (food, work, mobility, humanity, health, manufacturing, entertainment, tourism… anything) in the year 2050. Imagine you are already 30 years ahead of 2020, what are you doing? Which are society’s problems in 2050? How is everyday life? How we got there? When was the key turning point? And How? Why?


These are some of the questions that can help you to articulate your narrative, always with the perspective of how you imagine you can play a role in order to make the futures, you are presenting to us, possible.



  • Circular economy in advanced manufacturing
  • Public engagement in matters of concern
  • Cognitive systems in artificial intelligence
  • Biology in synthetic systems
  • Value exchange in distributed systems


To apply the candidates should fill up the Scholarship Application Form at this link and upload their projects in there.



Start and end dates to be released soon.



The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia will release the name of the winners on its official website.



  • Tomas Diez, Director – Design Studio leader – urban design and digital fabrication
  • Oscar Tomico, Co-director – Design Studio leader – design engineering and integrated products


  • Guillem Camprodon, Computer Science, Tools and Platforms (Fab Lab BCN)
  • Victor Barberán, Computer Science, Tools and Platforms (Fab Lab BCN)
  • Ingi Freyr Guðjónsson, Product Design and Digital Fabrication (Fab Lab BCN)
  • Anastasia Pistofidou, Materials and Embedded Technologies (Textile Lab at Fab Lab BCN)
  • Jonathan Minchin, Design and Sustainability (Fab Lab BCN)
  • Nuria Conde Pueyo, Synthetic and Computational Biology (Universitat Pompeu Fabra at PRBB)
  • Ramon Sangüesa, Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning (Elisava)
  • Lucas Peña, Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Elisabet Roselló Román, Strategic Innovation
  • Santi Fuentemilla, Digital Fabrication (Fab Academy at Fab Lab BCN)
  • Xavier Domínguez, Digital Fabrication (Fab Academy at Fab Lab BCN)
  • Eduardo Chamorro, Digital Fabrication (Fab Academy at Fab Lab BCN)
  • Mariana Quintero, Media Arts, Media Studies, Digital Literacy & Embodied Cognition
  • Thomas Duggan, Materials and generative design (Thomas Duggan Studio)
  • Mara Balestrini, New business models, user engagement, HCI (Ideas for Change)
  • Jose Luis de Vicente, Digital Culture, Innovation and New Media Art (Sonar+D)
  • Ron Wakkary, Kristina Andersen, Angella Mackey, David McCallum, Interaction Design, Industrial Design, Wearables, Fashion, Media Art and Design Research (Eindhoven University of Technology)
  • Mercé Rua, Markel Cormenzana, Transition Design (Holon)
  • Andrés Colmenares, Speculative Research, Internet Post-technological Future (IAM)

Special Faculty & Advisors:

  • Neil Gershenfeld, Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT
  • Indy Johar, Dark Matter Labs
  • Primavera de Filippi, CRNS – France
  • James Tooze, Royal College of Arts and Design
  • Liz Corbin, Institute of Making, UCL
  • Heather Corcoran, Kickstarter
  • Usman Haque, Umbrellium
  • Mette Bak Andersen, Material Design (Material Design Lab at KEA)
  • Jordi Serra del Pino, Center for Postnormal Policy & Futures Studies
  • Saúl Baeza, DOES Work – Elisava
  • Efraín Foglia,


  • Chiara Dall’Olio. MDEF Coordinator
  • Luciana Asinari. FabLab Barcelona Coordinator
  • Marcel Tkocz. Financial strategy
  • Kate Armstrong. Communication strategy
Tomas Diez

Fab Lab Barcelona Director / Fab City Global Instigator / MDEF Director / Board of Trustees Member / MaCT Theory Guest Faculty

View details
Oscar Tomico

Product Design and Smart Textiles / MDEF Co-Director

View details
Guillem Camprodon

Sense making - Fab Lab Barcelona / MAEB Faculty / MaCT Theory Guest Faculty / MDEF Faculty

View details
Víctor Barberán

Hardware & Software Developer / MDEF Faculty

View details
Anastasia Pistofidou

Fab Textiles Coordinator / Fabricademy Guru / MAA, MDEF Faculty

View details
Jonathan Minchin

Ecological interactions - fab lab Barcelona // MAEB Faculty / MDEF Faculty

View details
Nuria Conde

Synthetic and Computational Biology / MDEF Faculty

View details
Ramón Sangüesa

MDEF Faculty / Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

View details
Lucas Lorenzo Peña

Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning / MDEF Faculty

View details
Santi Fuentemilla

Future Learning Unit Coordinator / Fab Academy Guru

View details
Xavier Domínguez

Digital Fabrication / Fab Academy Faculty

View details
Mariana Quintero

Media Arts & Studies, Digital Literacy & Embodied Cognition / MDEF Faculty

View details
Mara Balestrini

Making Sense Project Leader / MDEF Faculty / MaCT Theory Guest Faculty

View details
José Luis de Vicente

Digital Culture, Innovation and New Media Art / MDEF Faculty / MaCT Seminar Faculty

View details
Chiara Dall'Olio

MDEF Coordinator / Fab Academy Global Coordination Assistant

View details
Luciana Asinari

Fab Lab Barcelona Coordinator / Fab Academy Global Coordinator

View details
Kate Armstrong

Communications Manager / MaCT Theory Guest Faculty / MDEF Faculty

View details
Thomas Duggan

Materials and Generative Design / MDEF Special Faculty

View details
Mette Bak Andersen

Material Design / MDEF visiting researcher

View details
Neil Gershenfeld

Physic, Director CBA MIT, Boston / MDEF Special Faculty

View details