Postcards From

Postcard From Superflux

Wava Carpenter

The award-winning, London-based studio writes an open letter urging the design world to dream big—and act decisively—now

In our Postcards From series, we invite esteemed creatives from around the globe to pen an open letter to the international design community sharing their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities of our era. On the occasion of Design Miami/ Basel 2022, we present a special series of postcards focusing on resilience through design. At a time when we can feel far too divided, these unique perspectives offer visions for a better world and concrete ways we can all help in this moment.

Today’s postcard comes from Anab Jain, Jon Ardern, and Nicola Ferrao of award-winning, future-facing design studio Superflux.

 From left: Anab Jain, Nicola Ferrao, and Jon Ardern; left and right images © Mark Coksedge; center image © Superflux

Dear Design,

First, we appreciate how youve shaped our lives–giving us function and aesthetics, scalability, and repeatability. But, it’s time we talked about how things are shaping out. The world is different now. The gulf between who benefits and who suffers in the world you service seems ever-widening. There’s a palpable tension. It’s inescapable. Like the repetitive striking against flint or the tick of a gas hob. Like the breath you hold, not knowing whether the emergent energy will be a benevolent flame or an almighty boom.

Design, we need your help to move past fear and paralysis. We need your help to exhale, breathe, and keep breathing. To make the world radically different now, tomorrow, and many tomorrows from now. And, though it might sound counter-intuitive, part of this will require time traveling backwards for ruthless self-reflection to lay bare the exclusionary and extractive systems that have marginalized so many humans and non-humans alike.

Design, now is the time to re-redirect that deep electric river of possibility. The one that fuels imagination and fosters trust in it. Together, we’ve navigated and even thrived in challenging times, but we need it to find paths forward that foreground care, interdependence, and plural points of view. The dreaming required for the change we need is enormous, as is the active hope to keep it aflame. Design, we need to move quickly and with intent. This... now... has to be the beginning of a history we can be proud of.

Sincerely,

Anab Jain, Jon Ardern, Nicola Ferrao | Superflux

 

Refuge for Resurgence by Superflux at the Venice  Biennale 2021. The speculative design project was conceived as a multispecies gathering in the blasted ruins of modernity, wherein humans, animals, birds, plants, moss, and fungi look for new ways to live together. Top window view designed in collaboration with Sebastian Tiew, © Cream Projects; Bottom © Giorgio Lazzaro

 

Superflux is a boundary-defying design and experiential futures company and art practice based in London. Named Design Studio of the Year in 2021 by Dezeen, Superflux translates future uncertainty into present day choices. Its focus ranges from climate change to algorithmic autonomy, future of work, and more-than-human politics—and aims to confront diverse audiences with the complex and deeply interconnected nature of the challenges we face today. Using design to imagine hypothetical worlds as a critical strategy for businesses, Superflux produces impactful futures work for clients like Google AI, Cabinet Office UK, Anthemis, Samsung, UNDP, and DeepMind. Parsing uncertainties, weak signals and wide ranging trends, Superflux works with clients to imagine and build future worlds they could experience in the present moment.

 

This letter is part of a special editorial series spotlighting stories of resilience through design. For Design Miami/ Basel 2022, Anna Carnick and Wava Carpenter of Design Miami and Anava Projects invited a short list of exceptional creatives to share their perspectives on paths towards a more equitable, more secure future by design and beyond.

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