We are living in a moment of rapid transition. From this moment on, we will need to design for a different world to what we have known. We need to incorporate new skills to work in a hyperlocal world that is hyper connected. The Master in Design for Emergent Futures is a journey into designing for complexity, uncertainty and possibility. The futures we want tomorrow are enabled by the actions we take today. 

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 practical content of the Master is developed by Fab Lab Barcelona, the research and innovation centre at IAAC.

It is a multidisciplinary design course which focuses on turning ideas into actions to transform the state of society. Our method is to propose small-scale interventions to approach large-scale challenges in order to dissolve wicked problems instead of solving them with single moonshot solutions. On analysis of the current global state of affairs and societal challenges, students will be encouraged to produce platforms, products and deployments for new emergent futures.

The 2nd Application Period for the academic year 2024/25 is now open until the 29th of February 2024!

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 MDEF01
MDEF02
Degree The Master in Design for Emergent Futures I is accredited by University of Lleida (UdL) – European Higher Education Area (EHEA) The Master in Design for Emergent Futures II is accredited by University of Lleida (UdL) – European Higher Education Area (EHEA)
Edition 7th edition 2nd edition
Credits 90 ECTS 120 ECTS
Direction Tomás Díez, Guillem Camprodon & Laura Benitez Tomás Díez, Guillem Camprodon & Laura Benitez
Duration October 2024 to June 2025 / Full time (9 months) October 2024 to June 2026 // Full time (18 months)
Language English English
Tuition Fees Non-EU: 23.850€
EU: 19.800€
Spanish: 11.925€
Non-EU: 31.800€
EU: 26.400€
Spanish: 15.900€
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,
Economics, and other related professions
Bachelor or higher degree in Industrial Design,
Product Design, Urban Design, Graphic Design, Interaction
Design, Computer Science, Engineering (Mechanical,
Chemical, Product, Material), Sociology, Anthropology,
Economics, and other related professions

* Tuition fee includes a non-refundable programme enrollment fee of 3.800€

**Transportation to any of the IAAC Campus and other services not mentioned are not included.

INTRODUCTION

THE DESIGN FOR EMERGENT FUTURES APPROACH

MDEF is both a theoretical and practical Master. It evolves the practice of design beyond objects, aesthetics, form finding and pure speculation through a unique hands-on-learning approach. Our method uses practical design processes to investigate complex systemic problems and proposes city-scale interventions to approach large-scale challenges. 

The master has four pillars: Exploration, Instrumentation, Reflection and Application. These provide a structure for students’ own personal and professional exploration and build the strategic vision and flexible skill set to design in uncertain times.

Students develop their technical capabilities through the global Fab Academy program. This program equips students with working knowledge across the multiple disciplines of a Fab Lab from coding to digital fabrication. By the end of the Master students will be competent in a range of maker skills which they can apply to their final projects. At the same time, MDEF asks students to critically engage with the fields of speculation and foresight studies; they assess the role of disruptive technologies such as digital fabrication, blockchain, synthetic biology, Artificial Intelligence in the current transformation of society. Critically analysing our today helps students design for the futures that are emerging. 

The practical and theoretical aspects of the Master are combined to develop a portfolio of strategies, reflections and prototypes as well as a final project. Investigation is situated in Barcelona city, where students can collaborate with local stakeholders to apply their knowledge to human centered needs. The final project is a ‘design intervention’, that is, a solution or response in the form of a product, platform or deployment. Working on hyperlocal interventions gives students a tangible design output that responds to a trend that is emerging at a global level and the potential impact of technology in business, education, society and culture. 

Previous graduates of MDEF have proceeded to work in the subjects in which they specialised during the master. Specialist subjects ranged greatly – from understanding democratic governance and trust; questioning our food systems and how they will look in the future; new material development through synthetic biology; training fungi to consume chemical composites amongst many other varied topics facilitated by the unique environment created by the Master and Faculty.

The Master in Design for Emergent Futures approach has been developed out of the Exploring Emergent Futures platform at the Royal College of Art, London, a program developed by James Tooze and Tomas Diez since 2015. MDEF is dedicated to scaling up the impact of maker practices and reimaging how design can be central to enacting a paradigm shift towards preferred plural futures.

Student Projects

PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

The Master aims to connect students to a vast global network of like-minded collaborators and professional opportunities. Students are encouraged to collaborate with industry, government and other professional sectors to develop more impactful projects. MDEF has collaborated with industry leaders such as Jordi Closa, director of Maker Lab Group at Adidas; Nina Gualinga, Amazonian Activist and recipient of the WWF International President’s Youth Award; Axel Meyer, Head of Design at Nokia Technologies; Nacho Martín, Design Director at FJORD; Nadya Peek Assistant professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering at University of Washington and previously MIT Media Lab. Small class sizes and course structure allows students to learn from and interact directly with course collaborators. MDEF also focuses on opportunities to collaborate with leaders in the local community, specifically in the ‘maker district’ of Barcelona in which IAAC is situated: the 22@ Innovation District of Poblenou. The local innovation ecosystem provides students with opportunities for internships. Students have previously taken internships at Hangar, Alpha Telefonica and Fab City Hub

Graduates can continue their research agenda within more traditional academic institutions, in the format of academic masters or PhDs. MDEF Alumni are currently undertaking research as part of European Research consortiums and at Universities globally. Alumni have also developed independent practices and start ups and are recognised thought leaders speaking at conferences including TechFestival Copenhagen, Dutch Design Week, Sfera Institute’s Bio-Urbanism, EAT festival at Biotopia and the international annual FabX Conference.

STUDENT PROFILE

Candidates for this Master’s Degree are professionals coming from Industrial Design, Product Design, Urban Design, Communication, Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Computer Science, Engineering (Mechanical, Chemical, Product, Material), Sociology, UX/UI Design, Multimedia Design, Arts, Anthropology, Economics, and other related professions. 

MDEF program is suitable for creative students who wish to study an innovative Master in Barcelona, in a dynamic international environment. It is for individuals who want to transform society and themselves.

ACADEMIC STRUCTURE

MDEF 01

The Master in Design for Emergent Futures is organized into three terms: Oct-Dec, Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun. Each term includes design studios, seminars and expert masterclasses. A research trip is also offered by the master, previous trips have been to Shenzhen, China and Cuba.

Design Studio sessions are central to the program. They focus on real world experimentation and socio-technical development. During the year, students develop technical, aesthetic and conceptual skills by working on real-life scenarios. Design studios encourage students to be creative and innovative. 

Seminars delve into specific domains of knowledge and are delivered by relevant expert practitioners and scholars. Throughout the academic year, international experts from the fields of design and emergent technologies, including artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, blockchain and digital fabrication, contribute to the program as guest lecturers.

The program provides advanced digital fabrication instruction through collaborative classes together with Fab Academy. Fab Academy is directed by Neil Gershenfeld of MIT’s Center For Bits and Atoms and based on MIT’s rapid prototyping course, MAS 863: How to Make (Almost) Anything. The collaborative classes offer MDEF students with a unique, hands-on curriculum and access to technological tools and resources based on a distributed educational model.

The program has four conceptual pillars:

Instrumentation
Students learn a modular set of maker skills and tools and how these can be used in the design process to translate their ideas into prototypes and prototypes into products. Skills include coding, digital fabrication, hardware design, synthetic biology, and computational thinking.

Exploration
Students are exposed to a set of technologies and sociocultural phenomena that have the capacity to disrupt our present understanding of society, industry and the economy. 

Reflection
Students are supported through individual and group reflection sessions to develop their own identity and skill set, knowledge and attitude as designers. 

Application
Students create design responses to explore their curiosities through innovation. They are encouraged to be creative and follow a culture of making where prototyping acts as a generator of knowledge and experimentation is crucial for problem solving.

MDEF 02

The second academic year of the MDEF allows students to deepen their training and further develop the final Thesis Project presented at the end of the first academic year. It also allows students to continue their research and innovation agendas using a multiscalar, experimental and realistic approach, and turning the final projects developed in the first year of the program into living platforms for academic research, business development or direct impact on open source communities.

The Thesis Project design workshop is the backbone of the MDEF02 program. That is why we have three types of Thesis Project, related to each quarter of the program, and each with its specific objectives. 

Implementation: The first Thesis Project design workshop is focused on reinforcing the implementation of the projects that have been developed in the first year of the program. To achieve this objective, tutorials will be carried out with the directors of the master’s degree, directors of the study workshop, and invited experts. The tutorials will be focused on reinforcing the ability to articulate innovation projects in the real world, and on being able to incorporate the knowledge acquired during the program.

Validation: This design workshop is focused on developing a series of strategies during the implementation of the final master’s project for its economic, environmental, social, and communicative assessment. Through an iterative design process, and applying impact measurement methodologies, the student will be able to collect and analyze evidence that allows strategic decision-making within the different aspects of the final master’s project.

Dissemination: The third design workshop is focused on developing the communication and dissemination actions of the final master’s project. Within these strategies, dissemination in the academic field is contemplated, as well as communication strategies related to traditional and innovative media, both in the digital field, such as print or performative.

At the end of the second year we hope that the students have developed their projects within the
framework of the following guidelines:

Academic orientation
CTS credits and continuation of the academic career through other Master or Doctorate programs.

Business Orientation
Development of a business structure around a product or service.

Collective Orientation
Implementation of an accessible technological development for open source communities.

Hybrid Profile
MDEF is built on an understanding of individual learning and personal development. Faculty aim to create a structured learning environment for students to apply their own interests and personalities to project-based learning. The Master favours collaboration and ‘human’ skills such as leadership, stakeholder management and teamwork. It is a safe space for students to explore their beliefs and craft their own ‘hybrid profile’ that mixes various sets of technical and human skills and prepares them to be resilient and agile designers to lead the new normal.

RESIDENCY PROGRAM

Fab Lab Barcelona and Elisava offer the possibility to participate in the Residency Program they organise for junior researchers all around the world.*

Participants will become full juniors researchers at the hosting institution, working hand in hand with project teams.

 

* The Residency Program commencement and the positions offered are subject to early review.

FACULTY

Directors:

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Tomas Diez, Director – Design Studio leader – Urban Design and Digital Fabrication

Tomas Diez is a Venezuela-born Urbanist who specialises in Digital Fabrication and its implications for the future of cities. He is the director of Fab Lab Barcelona at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, the Fab Academy global coordinator and the European project manager of the Fab Foundation.

He holds a bachelor degree in Urban planning and Sociology from the University Simon Bolivar (Caracas – Venezuela), a Diploma in Social Work at the University of Havana (Cuba), a Master in Advanced Architecture by IAAC, and a Diploma on Digital Fabrication in a pilot programme on the class “How to Make Almost Anything”, offered by MIT centre for Bits and Atoms in 2008 as the year zero of the Fab Academy. He works as a close collaborator in the development of the Fab Lab Network together with MIT and the Fab Foundation.

He is a tutor in Design at the Royal College of Arts in London; Co-founder of the Smart Citizen project and StudioP52, both in Barcelona, and has been the co-chair of the FAB10 Barcelona, the 10th international Fab Lab conference and annual meeting hosted by IAAC in 2014. Tomas has been appointed by The Guardian and Nesta as one of the top 10 digital social innovators to watch in 2013 and has been awarded the Catalan ICT association as the entrepreneur of the year in 2014-15. His research interests relate to the use of digital fabrication tools to transform the reality, and how the use of new technologies can change the way people consume, produce and relate to each other in cities.

Guillem Camprodon

Guillem Camprodon is a designer and technologist working in the intersection between emergent technologies and grassroots communities.

Guillem Camprodon is the executive director of Fab Lab Barcelona at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), a benchmark in the network of over 2000 Fab Labs and home of the Distributed Design Platform. He is passionate about teaching and is the co-director of the Master on Design For Emergent Futures (MDEF), a collaboration between IAAC and ELISAVA. Previously, he led Smart Citizen, a platform that opposes the traditional top-down Smart City model, empowering communities with tools to understand their environment. As a former research lead, he participated in many European-funded research and innovation projects, such as Making Sense, iSCAPE, GROW Observatory, Organicity, DECODE, ROMI and Reflow.

laura-benitez

Laura Benitez has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and is a researcher, and university lecturer.

Her research connects philosophy, art(s), and technoscience. She is an associate professor at the Department of Philosophy at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. She also teaches at Elisava. She has served as the coordinator of the Theory area in the Arts and Design Degree at Massana, where she has taught Critical and Cultural Studies. She has been a visiting researcher at the Ars Electronica Center and the Center for Studies and Documentation of MACBA. She has also collaborated with international institutions such as Interface Cultures Kunstuniversität Linz, Sónar Festival (Barcelona/Hong Kong), Royal Academy of Arts London, and the University of Puerto Rico. Between 2019 and 2021, she directed Biofriction, a European project (Creative Europe) on bioart and biohacking practices, led by Hangar in collaboration with the Bioart Society, Kersnikova, and Cultivamos Cultura. She is co-director of the Master on Design For Emergent Futures (MDEF).

Guillem Camprodon
Computer Science, Tools and Platforms (Executive director at FLB)

Oscar Gonzalez
Computer Science, Tools and Platforms (Sense Making Expert at FLB)

Anastasia Pistofidou
Materials and Embedded Technologies (Materials and Textiles Strategic Advisor at FLB)

Jonathan Minchin
Design and Sustainability (Civic Ecology Strategic Advisor at FLB)

Oscar Tomico
Design Research Methodologies, Posthuman Sustainability (Eindhoven University of Technology)

Nuria Conde Pueyo
Synthetic and Computational Biology (Universitat Pompeu Fabra at PRBB)

Lara Campos
Textiles and Biomaterials (S-BIOTICA)

Laura Freixas
Biomaterials and Circular Economy (PhD Student at Elisava)

Milena Juarez
Circular Communities (Communities Expert at FLB)

Santi Fuentemilla
Digital Fabrication (Future Learning Lead at FLB)

Thomas Duggan
Materials and generative design (Thomas Duggan Studio)

Mercé Rua, Markel Cormenzana
Transition Design (Holon)

Andrés Colmenares
Speculative Research, Internet Post- technological Future (IAM)

Lucas Peña
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning BCN)

Ramón Sangüesa
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – UPC

Dr. Ariel Guersenzvaig
Design Research and Ethics (Elisava)

Taller Estampa
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Dr. Ron Wakkary, Dr. Kristina Andersen, Angella Mackey
Interaction Design, Industrial Design, Wearables, Fashion, Media Art and Design Research (Eindhoven University of Technology)

Lorenzo Patuzzo

Blockchain and Collective Intelligence (AKASHA Foundation)

Albert Cañigueral
Technology and Society, Future of Work

Sally Bourdon

Biology, ecological economics, communities (Communities Development Researcher at FLB)

Jessica Guy

Designer, circular communities (Distributed Design Expert at FLB)

Olga Trevisan

Visual artist, participatory practices (Communities Development Researcher at FLB)

Alejandra Tothill

Designer and researcher, sustainability, post-humanism (LZF Lamps)

Roger Guillamany

Designer and researcher, participatory design (Aquí)

Pablo Zuloaga

Creative director, designer, technologist (POWAR)

Pietro Rustici

Software engineer, designer (Amazon)

Christian Ernst

Creative Technologist, designer (MOVING Works, CERNST)

 

Special Faculty and Advisors: 

Mariana Quintero
Media Arts & Studies, Digital Literacy & Embodied Cognition (Emergent Futures Strategic Advisor at FLB)

Neil Gershenfeld
Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT

Indy Johar
Dark Matter Labs

Daniel Charny
From Now On

Primavera de Filippi
CRNS – France

James Tooze
Royal College of Arts and Design

Liz Corbin
Institute of Making, UCL

Efraín Foglia
guifi.net

Heather Corcoran
Kickstarter

Usman Haque
Umbrellium

Dr. Mette Bak Andersen
Material Design Lab at KEA

Saúl Baeza
DOES Work – Elisava

Sara González de Ubieta
deubieta.com

Dr. Laura Clèries
Elisava

Mara Balestrini
New business models, user engagement, HCI (Ideas for Change)

Jose Luis de Vicente
Design Hub

PARTNERS

WATCH THE LASTEST FROM MDEF

STUDENTS LIFE

MDEF Alumni Showcase Innovative Projects at Dutch Design Week and Fixing the Future

MDEF Alumni had the opportunity to invite visitors to learn about and engage with their future-shaping projects.

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MDEF students embark on an exploratory trip to El Hierro island

Every year, MDEF offers students the opportunity to connect to a unique landscape and ecosystem. This year, the chosen space was El Hierro.

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MDEF Alumni Roberto Broce: A day of turning fungi into surfboards

Roberto Broce is a bio designer and materials researcher. Using his long-standing fascination with fungi, he came up with his current project Mic Board.

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