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.
Applications are still Open, however positions are filling up fast!
Any application received after May 31st will be accepted and reviewed ONLY IF available places still exist in the master programme. Since most places in the programme are filled by 30th of June, we strongly recommend that you apply as soon as possible.
MDEF 01 + MDEF 02 (second year of the MDEF program)
|Edition||6th edition||2nd edition|
|Credits||75 ECTS||120 ECTS|
|Direction||Tomás Díez & Oscar Tomico||Tomás Díez & Oscar Tomico|
From October 2023 to June 2024 // Immersive and full time
|09 + 09 months (18 months)
From October 2023 to June 2025 // Immersive and full time
|Tuition Fees||Non-EU: 19.875€
|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
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.
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.
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.
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 speculative futures, futurology and speculative design, contribute to the program as guest lecturers.
Fab Academy is a distributed educational model 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 program provides advanced digital fabrication instruction for students through an unique, hands-on curriculum and access to technological tools and resources.
The program has four conceptual pillars:
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.
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.
Students are supported through individual and group reflection sessions to develop their own identity and skill set, knowledge and attitude as designers.
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.
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:
CTS credits and continuation of the academic career through other Master or Doctorate programs.
Development of a business structure around a product or service.
Implementation of an accessible technological development for open source communities.
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.
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.
The cultural sector is in complete upheaval. new socio cultural behaviours and new technological advances and also recent health restrictions are forcing museums and cultural institutions to transform their activities, challenging them to unlearn and rebuild through new systems and new mediums. Vibe is an experimental platform for cultural content, community exchange and hybrid experiences that explores new ways of consuming culture. anchored on megatrends such as mixed realities, gaming and participatory entertainment, vibe is phygitally deployed through the interactions between body, space and audio-visual.
Fuel4Design is a 3-year project jointly delivered by a consortium of leading design-educator-researchers from the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Politecnico di Milano, University of the Arts London, and ELISAVA. 21st-century design pedagogy needs to be urgently reframed in an approach that we call ‘Design Futures Literacy’. This is a literacy that connects teaching and learning to provide an education for young designers for designing for complex tomorrows. This is a matter of Design taking on a far more proactive role in working to anticipate these tomorrows through acts of situated making that understands use and users and Design as working prospectively to look ahead of the immediate or short term (Celi & Morrison, 2018). FUEL4Design supports the discipline of Design and its MA/PhD students and teachers in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to productively anticipate critical future learning needs and change processes through sustained future making.
The EU-funded CENTRINNO project aims to develop and demonstrate strategies, approaches and solutions for the regeneration of industrial historic sites and areas as creative production and manufacturing hubs that stay true to the ecological challenges of our time. CENTRINNO aims to boost a diverse, inclusive and innovative urban economy that uses heritage as a catalyst for innovation and social inclusion and fosters circular management of resources. The CENTRINNO pilot will engage with the local community and territory. Learn more about Fab Lab Barcelona’s role in the project here.
FoodSHIFT 2030 aims to explore pathways of innovative and citizen-driven food system approaches in cities, and launch an ambitious citizen-driven transition of the European food system towards a low carbon circular future, including a shift to less meat and more plant based diets. FOODSHIFT combines improving social and technological readiness levels with new circular business models based on the idea of food citizenship. In Barcelona, the Food Tech 3.0 lab is combining food, innovative tech, and new circular business models to accelerate 10 local initiatives. Learn more about Fab Lab Barcelona’s role in the project here.
Distributed Design is a phenomenon that integrates design skills and the ‘making’ approach to enable new entrepreneurial types of professional producers. On one hand, designers acquire more technological and practical skills. On the other hand, makers evolve their design attitude and capabilities. The concept builds upon the practice of the global Fab Lab Network. The Distributed Design Platform (DDMP), co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, is
a practice-based advocacy platform for Distributed Design coordinated by Fab Lab Barcelona. Comprising 15 members from across Europe the Platform presents an annual programme built around open source, public-facing tools and methodologies with the aim to educate, train and upskill designers and citizen-designers in the field and potential of distributed design.
Repurposing manufacturing lines for providing medical products and services in case of spiking demand times. RESERVIST calls for the creation of resilient networks of suppliers, manufacturers, notified certification bodies and distributors in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. It taps on the distributed manufacturing capacity of the Fab Lab Network, the rapid prototyping for the development of real need solutions and the generation of blueprints for replicable solutions. It also ideates on different pandemic scenarios and creates a manual for emergencies with the scope to enable (SME) companies and increase society ́s response resilience. Learn more about Fab Lab Barcelona’s role in the project here.
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.
Dr. Oscar Tomico, Co-director – Design Studio leader – Design Engineering and Integrated Products
Oscar Tomico holds an MSc degree in Industrial Engineering from Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain) and a PhD from the same institution, awarded in 2007 with Cum Laude. During his research into Innovation Processes in Product Design, he investigated subjective experience-gathering techniques based on constructivist psychology. After finishing his PhD he worked as a consultant for Telefonica R&D (Barcelona). Tomico joined Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in 2007 as Assistant Professor. He has been a guest researcher and lecturer at AUT Creative technologies (New Zealand), at TaiwanTech (Taiwan), Swedish School of Textiles (Sweden), Institute of Advanced Architecture (Spain), University of Tsukuba, Aalto (Finland) to name a few. During his sabbatical in 2015 he worked as a consultant for the functional textiles department at EURECAT (Spain). He recently (2017) became the head of the Industrial Design Bachelor’s degree program at ELISAVA University School of Design and Engineering of Barcelona.
Mariana Quintero: Emergent Futures Strategic Advisor
Chiara Dall’Olio: MDEF Program coordinator. Fab Academy Global coordination team
Sebastián Sallent – Academic Coordination Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)
Media Arts & Studies, Digital Literacy & Embodied Cognition (Emergent Futures Strategic Advisor at FLB)
Computer Science, Tools and Platforms (Executive director at FLB)
Computer Science, Tools and Platforms (Hardware and Software Expert at FLB)
Computer Science, Tools and Platforms (Sense Making Expert at FLB)
Materials and Embedded Technologies (Materials and Textiles Strategic Advisor at FLB)
Design and Sustainability (Civic Ecology Strategic Advisor at FLB)
Nuria Conde Pueyo
Synthetic and Computational Biology (Universitat Pompeu Fabra at PRBB)
Textiles and Biomaterials (S-BIOTICA)
Biomaterials and Circular Economy (PhD Student at Elisava)
Circular Communities (Communities Expert at FLB)
Digital Fabrication (Future Learning Lead at FLB)
Digital Fabrication (Additive Manufacturing Expert at FLB)
Materials and generative design (Thomas Duggan Studio)
New business models, user engagement, HCI (Ideas for Change)
Jose Luis de Vicente
Digital Culture, Innovation and New Media Art (Sonar+D)
Mercé Rua, Markel Cormenzana
Transition Design (Holon)
Speculative Research, Internet Post- technological Future (IAM)
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning BCN)
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – UPC
Dr. Ariel Guersenzvaig
Design Research and Ethics (Elisava)
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Dr. Ron Wakkary, Dr. Kristina Andersen, Angella Mackey, David McCallum
Interaction Design, Industrial Design, Wearables, Fashion, Media Art and Design Research (Eindhoven University of Technology)
Blockchain and Collective Intelligence (AKASHA Foundation)
Special Faculty and Advisors:
Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT
Primavera de Filippi
CRNS – France
Royal College of Arts and Design
Institute of Making, UCL
Dr. Mette Bak Andersen
Material Design Lab at KEA
DOES Work – Elisava
Sara González de Ubieta
Dr. Laura Clèries
Fab Academy is a distributed educational programme that offers a unique and collaborative learning experience. Each participating Fab Lab provides the space, inventory and machines for students to pursue their own project goals while interacting in a global classroom where they can share their progress, ideas, problems and solutions. Fab Academy teaches a “learning to learn” approach, where students share methods and best practices in an open-source and collaborative environment. During this 5-month programme, students are supported by local instructors who guide students in the various assignments and topics covered each week. Every week is introduced via an interactive video stream guided by Neil Gershenfeld, Director of the MIT’s CBA. At its core, Fab Academy empowers students to learn by doing, inspires them to make stuff locally and to become active participants in sustainable cities and communities.
The Academany – the Academy of (almost) Anything. With the increasing availability and ease of use of digital tools and systems, both in the world of fabrication, biology and design, the possibility to solve problems locally is becoming greater every day. But it is often overlooked that the tools and means to build objects destined for everyday use or to safely use synthetic biology to locally produce energy or medicine, is not at all easy or trivial. The Academany is a new global educational structure offering high-level education all over the globe, at connected sites offering the same infrastructure to all students.
Space 10 in Copenhagen is a research hub and exhibition space initiated by Swedish furniture company IKEA. The innovation lab explores how different approaches and trends might influence home design and the future of living. Focused on sustainability and responsible business models the hub has been operating since 2015. SPACE10 integrates four different labs that conduct research on important topics that might change the way people live in the future: “The Farm”, “Do you speak human?”, “Possible Cities” and “Build with Spaces”.
Seed Studio is a platform for global creative technologists to turn ideas into products, by providing open technology and agile manufacturing. Seeed’s IoT Hardware Innovation Lab (x.factory), situated in the heart of Shenzhen, China, serves as an IoT hardware lab for developers with prototyping tools and equipment, as well as a community of tech partners. The x.factory is operated by Chaihuo Maker Space, Shenzhen’s first and leading maker space since 2011, and it is the headquarter of Seeed Studio. It’s an “open factory” with production-level equipment for in-house prototyping and small-batch production services, as well as co-working spaces to make projects. The x.factory helps members to connect to Shenzhen’s vast resources in supply chain, as well as industry and market opportunities in China.
Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative ideas that are brought to life through the direct support of others. Kickstarter helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality. To date, tens of thousands of creative projects — big and small — have come to life with the support of the Kickstarter community. Kickstarter is an enormous global community built around creativity and creative projects. Over 10 million people, from every continent on earth, have backed a Kickstarter project.