Walls will not have light switches. Instead, motion sensors will detect when you walk in and out of a room, adjusting the lighting, temperature, aroma and digital wall decoration to your liking.
“Everything in your home is going to be connected to levels that we don't understand,” said Victor Ermoli, dean of the school of design at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). “The car will be connected to your communications device. Your glasses will be connected to a technology. Your watch, blender, washing machine, fans — every product will be connected.”
To imagine what it's going to be like 25 years from now in 2039, think back the same number of years to 1989.
“If we go back 25 years, FedEx changed my career,” said Frank Tyneski, chief marketing officer and chief of design and experience for Lz Labs. “Suddenly, I could work till midnight and get that rendering the next day. It changed the context of work. And, then, from there it kept advancing to more, faster and always connected.”
Tyneski sees the context of play changing over the next 25 years with virtualized experiences of recreational activities like boating and skiing replacing or augmenting the real thing.
“The only way you can grow a population and increase the quality of life and save the planet is to virtualize a lot of these experiences,” Tyneski said. “I won't call them unnecessary; I'll call them very necessary but I'll say the quality of the experience will be had in a different way.
“High-frequency use items are going to become better, more lasting and serviceable while low-frequency use items like your jet ski might become fully virtualized in a future scenario.”
Scott Clear, vice president of product development for Intersection, a San Diego design consultancy, said the traditional view of design as art has expanded to include thought, strategy and psychology.
“Businesses are trying to understand the thinking processes, the problem-solving solutions that come from different perspectives and what it means,” Clear explained. “We're seeing a lot more designers getting their MBA's. The business of design has now become one of our key movements.”
The lines between design and engineering, as well as different types of design, will blur.
“A lot of people are dropping the word design because it has been abused or misunderstood,” Clear said. “They are trying to come up with new ideas to separate themselves because they are moving into where it's going in the next 25 years.”
Clear, Tyneski and Ermoli are as unconventional in their thinking as they are accomplished in their design careers.
An architect by training, Clear blends industrial design with expertise in business strategy, marketing, branding, material sciences, chemistry and manufacturing processes to help companies discover new innovation opportunities.
Ermoli was named as one the 25 “Most Admired Educators in America” by DesignIntelligence in 2011. Under his leadership, SCAD has gained international recognition for collaborating with top corporations on research and development projects and bringing entirely new products to market.
Tyneski is an award-winning designer and prolific inventor with more than 75 patents. He has led design for Dell, Kyocera and BlackBerry. He was only 30 years old in 1998 when he created the Motorola TalkAbout two-way radio, honored by Businessweek in 2000 as “Design of the Decade” and now featured in Smithsonian museum's permanent collection.
Not surprisingly, Tyneski is blazing new trails at Lz Labs in Switzerland.
“From my experience, large companies have their own internal culture and try as they might to change, it's kind of like somebody holding their breath,” Tyneski said. “They can do it for a period of time but eventually they breathe as they are. To move design to one of the center squares is something that people have become very good at talking about but not so good at actually practicing.”
Innovation is being “crowded out” by the cost-containment and workforce-reduction measures of many companies, according to Tyneski.
So he's now smack dab inside a private equity firm “where companies are being birthed” and “inserting design as the DNA” of a company. “It won't be easily displaced or forgotten or used as sort of a lemon fresh scent of the day to talk about,” he said.
Putting design at the very nucleus of a new company positions it for growth and makes it more attractive for acquisition.
“We're making it good from the inception. As we progress through time, it'll get from good to better to great to hopefully world dominant leadership in the category,” he said.
If newly incubated companies will be driving future design, “a new breed of designer that doesn't have a name” will be at the wheel.
“It's a hybrid, somewhere in between industrial designer slash service designer — a designer that is much more a systems designer,” Ermoli said. “Every design process will start by doing thorough research and, then, the first thing that's going to be designed is the system.”