The Futures Archive

The Futures Archive

The Futures Archive is a podcast from Design Observer that looks at the history of human-centered design with a critical eye to its future. In each episode, we begin with an object, interrogating the motives and methods that put people—and their complex needs and desires—at the center of the design process. From research to iteration to manufacturing and distribution, we’ll look at design as more than the sum of its countless parts—learning from the “what” and searching for the “why”—as we explore, together, the possibilities for our collective future.

Subscribe to The Futures Archive on or your favorite app.

Enter your email to receive updates


Automattic
Our season sponsor is Automattic.


Episodes

The Futures Archive S2E8: The Car Radio
What do you listen to when you are in your car? On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Liz Danzico discuss the car radio and what sounds you are conditioned to hear.


The Futures Archive S2E7: The Refrigerator
On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Sara Hendren discuss designing for health and safety within the everyday context of refrigeration and the mysterious coldscape.


The Futures Archive S2E6: The Bug Zapper
On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Sloan Leo go deep on how human-centered design doesn’t always reflect humanity.


The Futures Archive S2E5: The Air Conditioner
On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Rachel Lehrer discuss the pleasures and pains of air conditioning for ourselves and the sustrainability of the planet.


The Futures Archive S2E4: The Defibrillator
On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Sara Hendren discuss the defibrillator, designing life-saving machines for everyday users, and the power of the power button.


The Futures Archive S2E3: The Blender
Do you have a blender? Do you use it? Does it make your life more convenient? On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Sloan Leo discuss the blender, gender roles, and power structures.


The Futures Archive S2E2: The Dongle
What does our need for dongles say about the sustainability, or obsolescence, of the electronics we are designing and consuming? On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Liz Danzico discuss dongles and how we might find a more sustainable way forward.


The Futures Archive S2E1: The Disco Ball
What are the relationships between design and pleasure? And how can we design the most pleasurable experiences? On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Rachel Lehrer discuss the disco ball and the importance of embodied design.


The Futures Archive S2E0: Introductions
Introducing the four co-hosts of season two of The Futures Archive.


The Futures Archive S1E12: The Pet
Do you have a pet? Do you name inanimate objects in your life? On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and guest host Liz Danzico discuss her dog Harriet, and the anthropomorphization of things. With additional insights from Greger Larson, Gail Melson, and Hannah Chung.


The Futures Archive S1E11: The Recipe
On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Lesley-Ann Noel discuss how recipes apply to human centered design and the importance of abductive thinking. With additional insights from Xinyi Liu, Julia Collin Davison, and Jon Kolko.


The Futures Archive S1E10: The Shoe
What do your shoes say about you? On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Garnette Cadogan discuss the challenge of designing shoes, and the way we assign meaning to our shoes.


The Futures Archive S1E9: The Mask
On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and David Sun Kong discuss the mask, microbes, and the importance of designing with the microbiome not against it.


The Futures Archive S1E8: Daruma Doll
What do your possessions say about you? Which ones speak the loudest? On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Sarah Nagle Parker discuss Daruma dolls and the importance of objects to people and design research. With additional insights from Hiroko Yoda, Dori Tunstall, and Daria Loi.


The Futures Archive S1E7: The Ball
On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Saeed Arida discuss the ball, play, and learning.


The Futures Archive S1E6: The Toilet
On this episode of The Futures Archive, host Lee Moreau and this episode’s guest host, Devorah Klein, discuss the toilet, privacy, and connections.


The Futures Archive S1E5: The Uniform
On this episode of The Futures Archive designer Lee Moreau and this episode’s guest host, Grace Jun, discuss the notion of a uniform, and the importance of inclusivity in human-centered design.


The Futures Archive S1E4: The Chair
On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Judith Anderson discuss the history and design of the chair, and the importance of prototyping.


The Futures Archive S1E3: The Bottle
On this episode of The Futures Archive designer Lee Moreau and this episode’s guest host, Jamer Hunt, discuss the design and production of the plastic bottle.


The Futures Archive S1E2: The Toothbrush
On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Harry West discuss the toothbrush, toothbrushing, and over-learned behaviors.


The Futures Archive S1E1: The Passport
On this inaugural episode of The Futures Archive podcast Lee Moreau and guest host Natasha Jen discuss passport design, which leads them to ask “who is the human is in human centered design?” With insights from Ellen Lupton, Kipum Lee, + Craig Robertson.


The Futures Archive S1E0: Trailer
The Futures Archive looks at the history of human-centered design with a critical eye to its future.



Observed | June 17

Molly Young reviews Alexandra Lange’s new book, Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall. (Read an excerpt here.) [JH]

Can you quantify creativity? [JH]

Zimbabwean born designer, visual artist, and educator Nontsikelelo Mutiti has been appointed the next Director of Graduate Studies in Graphic Design at Yale School of Art. [JH]


Observed | June 03

A critique of poster design goes viral. [JH]

Colin Forbes—who, with Alan Fletcher, Theo Crosby, Mervyn Kurlansky and Kenneth Grange co-founded the international design firm, Pentagram, in the early 1970s—has died at 94. [JH]

Are school shootings a design problem? Texas Senator Ted Cruz thinks so. [JH]]

In the United States, there are five requirements for design patentability. Do you know what they are? [JH]

Italian design legend Riccardo Falcinelli on design philosophy—and reality. [JH]

Read It And Weep Department: Just when you thought a more diverse cast of characters (think women and people of color, for starters) might actually be on their way to getting some long-overdue airtime, Austrian brothers Jono and Benji Bergmann release a film on ... Bruce Mau! [JH]


Observed | April 29

Creatives for Ukraine, an open platform with over one thousand digital artworks submitted showing solidarity with Ukraine. [BV]

Trained as an Industrial designer at Notre Dame, Michigan state senator Mallory McMorrow takes on the GOP. [JH]

Yup. [JH]

Designers! They’re just like us! “Grey’s friend Jamie Lee Curtis helped design the cover of Out of the Corner, using what she described in a phone interview as “D.I.Y. photoshop phone app skills.” [JH]


Observed | April 26

Award-winning American artist and illustrator, Marshall Arisman, has died at 83. Steve Heller’s tribute is here. [JH]


Observed | April 08

Kevin Lippert, the founder of Princeton Architectural Press, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 63. [JH]

Forbes offers “graphic design on a budget” advise—in the name of leadership. [JH]

The saga to redesign Rhode Island’s license plate continues, with design educators weighing in. [JH]

An early Easter gift for a grateful librarian: Charles Darwin’s notebooks, long missing, mysteriously returned! (Via Jen Renninger) [JH]

Educator, artist, activist and civil rights era photographer Doris Derby has died. She was 82. [JH]


Observed | March 18

MIT announces The Morningside Academy for Design, a new hub for cross-disciplinary education, research, and innovation across the design professions, and which will be housed at the School of Architecture and Planning. [JH]

Karen Hoffman, a seasoned educator and industrial designer, is named the next President of ArtCenter, in California. She will be the first female president in the college’s ninety-year history. [JH]


Observed | March 11

The 2020 National Security Law, slogans, and the art of the pictogram: a thread on Twitter. (via Blake Eskin.) [JH]

Owning the apple—one logo at a time. [JH]


Observed | March 04

Emeline King, Ford’s first black female transportation designer, has a few things to say about trailblazing. [JH]


Observed | February 25

The value of well-designed work. [JH]

In Berlin: Konstantin Grcic on design, function, and the new normal. [JH]

How to design a bike lane. [JH]



Jobs | June 30