Impressions from Summ( )n Summer Sessions

Our summer sessions on Future Probing are all done! Or at least this inaugural batch is done, we already know that we will do many more of these sessions in the near future. It was a great experience for us at Summ()n, to prepare and to promote these workshops, and then eventually to conduct them.  Despite the method itself is very familiar to us, we still have learned a lot of useful lessons that will help us to improve these exercises.

One of the key conclusions (and main feedback from the participants) is that we have to be much more instructive. In our normal, project-based work we tend to be very open and flexible (we must be like that, in fact). But these demo versions require a bit more didactic form, more clear instructions and more articulated feedback. Points taken, and we will make these qualities more vivid in the following sessions.

In addition to these training session we have been requested to think about more topical, or thematic sessions, the ones that would also help to explore certain domains. ‘Energy’ was mentioned most often as a possible candidates for such a session, both in terms of ‘energy for devices’, but also personal energy.

Special thanks to our new partners that we found during the preparations of these events – Dutch Future Society and Brainport Development. Both agencies have endorsed us so far, and are keen to further explore the opportunities in the future.

From Crap to Desirable Futures

Yet another interesting ‘future event’ – this time in Amsterdam, and with Binary Futures, an interesting new collective based in Amsterdam. The even was very different from the one we just visited in Rotterdam – different type of speakers, different, more underground-ish atmosphere, yet somehow the theme of the event – ‘From Crap to Desirable Futures’ – somewhat overlapped with the one proposed by Witte de With, with their Memories of the Future.

The event was opened by Gunes Kantaroglu – who as I later learned just joined Philips Design in Eindhoven!

She presented the idea behind Binary Futures, and also their recent collaboration with Space 10 – who happened to be also the first speakers in the deck:

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Endorsement by the Dutch Future Society!

Great news for our Summer Sessions – they have been endorsed by the Dutch Future Society! See the announcement on their webpage, and we expect to see more communication about the event via their social media channels.  It’s great opportunity for us, as we expect to see more specialists in our sessions, the professionals who deal with the future on a daily base. It of course also adds some extra challenges for us, too, since we have to make this exercise relevant for these professionals! But all in all, a great lever for us, and a chance to have even more interesting conversations for all the participants!

Memories of the Future @ Witte de With

Last Wednesday the team of Summ()n attended a very interesting event in Rotterdam, a symposium called “Memories of the Future“. The event was organized by the Witte de With art center, which may look like your usual art gallery but which in reality is much more. I’ve already been to a number of interesting events they hold, and every time it proves to be worth visiting.

This was one was in fact a part of larger program they run annually, called Dutch Design Summer School. We weren’t aware before that such School event exists, or else we would try to pitch there with our program, on future probing or gamification methods.

But at least we managed to join as participants, and to listen at least a half of all the speakers. Below are a few top of the mind impression of the talks.

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Templates of the future

When someone opens a new Flickr account, but hasn’t uploaded any pictures yet, the service unobtrusively hints on what pictures there are expected from this someone. Such is our future, open and emerging but within an already developed template. Life becomes a coloring book for adults.



Here’s Here: On data, maps, and the futures

Last Thursday I went to a very interesting even organized here in Eindhoven by Here (a very clever name for any company, because it would be always able to say ‘We are here!)  But it’s a particularly clever name for a company that makes maps.

Of course, the whole point of the meeting was to convince people that that company Here makes not only maps. The company has a sinuous trajectory: it was known as Navteq, until it was bought by Nokia and blended with its own napping division into Nokia Maps. It then suffered from many of the misfortunes that hit its mother company, and eventually was sold – to a very logical but still quite strange ‘buyer’, a consortium of three German car makers: Audi, BMW, and Daimler. The idea, of course, is that this new creation, Here, would enable these companies to progress with their driverless cars.

But the presentations by Craig Barnes (above), head of research at Here, were not about these (still distant) futures, but more about current state of affairs and perhaps more immediate (near) futures. And there were a lot of maps shown on the screen, too 🙂

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Museum (of Many Things) in Kerkrade

We have been recently invited, by Ralf Fleuren, our new colleague at FBA, to visit a new museum in the town of Kerkrade, located not far from Maastricht in the province of Limburg. It is in fact not even one museum but three, and the name of this museum constellation is Museumplein Limburg, the Square of Museums.

And it’s not actually a ‘new’ museum – we knew this place already for ages, although under the different name, and with different identity. Previously this was a combination of a regional museum (with a very interesting exposition of the mines, that this region was famous with in the past), and a science part of some sort for children. We’ve been to this museum number of time with our son, enjoying its playful yet informative exhibitions.

Much has changed since then. The old museum is transformed into so called Continium Discovery Center, and two new museums are added: Columbus Earth Center and Cube Design Museum. The picture above is in fact a fragment of this Cube, and the one below also shows a fragment of the Columbus’ Dome.

But it’s not ‘all from scratch’: the new design has a nice quality, of being very contemporary and modern, yet somehow linked to the legacy and history, of museum itself, and of the region. This is expressed very nicely, even in the interior design elements (like this reddish walls of the design museum, referring to the geological structure of the soil in this region, that was famous for its mines and quarries.)

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Founded By All: The new website, and new level of collaboration

Another day, another good news: Founded By All, our new ‘business home’, has just launched the new (much better!) website – have a look

This is not only a much nicer, more informative and more contemporary looking website, it is also the result of FBA in action, a collaborative endeavor accomplished by multiple people and teams together. Kudos