A ‘design intervention’ is a solution or response in the form of a product, platform or deployment; it’s a tangible design output that responds to a trend that is emerging at a global level and challenges the potential impact of technology in business, education, society and culture. 


In the Master of Design for Emergent Futures (MDEF) the students work on hyperlocal interventions providing them a platform to identify their role as designers, build the necessary skills to execute their design practice and ultimately develop their final project that will be the starting point of their professional career after finishing the masters. 

Part of the program are the so-called MDEF Research, Design, and Development Studios that aim to take the student’s research areas of interest and initial project ideas into an advanced concretion point, and execution plan. As a fundamental part of the program, they center on real-world experimentation and socio-technical development and encourage students to be creative and innovative. 

Throughout the 9-month program divided into three terms the students develop technical skills by working on real-life scenarios. In the first term of the Master in Design for Emergent Futures the studio classes focus on research. Through understanding what it means to design for emergent futures and analyzing the past and finding weak signals the students are identifying areas of interest, get to experimenting from the first-person perspective and create their design space and first interventions. 

In the second term of the Master in Design for Emergent Futures, the Design Studio aims to refine the work developed by students during the first term. The students are encouraged to take a further step into their projects, focusing on finding and growing their communities of practice and developing interventions in the real world (both digital or physical).


In one of the interventions, Master in Design for Emergent Futures student Joaquín Rosas Sotomayor is exploring how music can change physical realities. He invited his classmates who participated in the intervention to modify clay figures while listening to different songs he played on his guitar followed by a set of guitar pedals that allow shaping the sound with different effects, such as reverb, pitch, freeze, overdrive and a looper. The participants were asked to form the clay with their eyes closed to enhance the auditory attention and focus fully on the sounds.


For each of the four tracks, Joaquín defined a parameter to guide it – Pitch, Duration, Timbre change, Loudness. After each track, the participants shared their experiences. “I realized at first I was only using my fingertips but then got more immersed into the song and I started to experiment with different shapes”, commented one of the participants after the second song. Another participant mentioned that he felt like he was playing the music with Joaquin and didn’t feel so much of a spectator but an active part of the intervention. “The fourth track had more texture than the ones played before and that is also represented in the piece I formed and the techniques I used”, said another participant.

The final result is a series of collaborative and meaningful series of objects that the student will 3d scan and print. He will also compare them through the set parameters and analyze for patterns. Furthermore, the clay objects can also be used as an instrument using the playtronica board, making the process circular and infinite.

Joaquín Rosas Sotomayor is a designer who graduated from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, with teaching experience in University of Chile and Universidad Catolica. He specialized in the development of high social impact projects through the use of new technologies, material manufacturing, digital fabrication, sustainable methods and circular economy.


In the 3rd term of the Master in Design for Emergent Futures the focus of the studio lies in the development. The students are refining their interventions and are guided to identify desirable futures. The goal is to establish roadmaps for the construction of emergent narratives and effectively communicate and disseminate their projects through speculative design.

Interested in becoming a new type of designer, turning ideas into actions to transform the current state of society? The application for the next edition of the Master in Design for Emergent Futures (MDEF) is already open!

The program is a 9-month multidisciplinary design course that focuses on turning ideas into actions to transform the state of society by proposing small-scale interventions to approach large-scale challenges.

It 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.