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Have we stopped dreaming?

‘It is hard to say what today’s dreams are, they seem to have been downgraded to hopes’ — Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby

I agree we need to dream so that design today can have the same impact that it did throughout the twentieth century. Dunne and Raby speak about how imagination needs to flow freely to have the impact in design that can change the world, or at least a part of it. They believe that most designers today operate in what they believe to be probable, reality has a ‘grip on our imagination’ and therefore we are no longer dreaming big.

So, have we really stopped dreaming and downgraded these dreams to ‘hopes’? I don’t believe we have though I believe it is harder to still imagine in the ‘fantasy’ future when the pace of reality is moving so quickly. As more becomes achievable our dreams become, in a sense, more realistic. This shouldn’t mean that they then fall into the ‘hope’ category because even the bolder ideas today seem more plausible. In a time where anything now seems possible why are dreams being downgraded?

‘Today, the accelerated pace of change requires designers to engage with the future in a more direct way’ — Victor Margolin

If dreams, rather than hopes, are what change society and we have not been ‘dreaming’ much in recent decades then some of the achievements of design in recent decades has been lost. For example the introduction of social media resulted in the Arab Spring being made possible. The Arab Uprisings used technology and social media platforms such as Facebook to organize protests and spread awareness resulting in collective activism.

‘Intense activity in one or more fields such as science, technology, warfare, or the arts can produce sea changes that result in radically different situations that are difficult to foresee’ — Victor Margolin

Dunne and Raby believe that designer’s no longer focus on socially orientated designs but I believe that this is because today all design now has a considered social element to it. We are no longer moving in just one direction at the expense of the other, as all areas are intrinsically linked therefore affect each other. Many of the designs that had a huge social impact were designed aligned with the capitalism ideas to generate wealth that Dunne and Raby believe would hinder design imagination. For example mobile phones were created for the wealthy in developed countries to communicate however the technology has had a positive impact for on society in Nigeria. It not only improved their communication but allowed for easy access to the internet resulting in improvement to their disaster management, access to education and agriculture.

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Isaac Mkalia, 20 years old, a teacher by profession is checking his mobil phone.

I believe we are continuing to ‘dream’ and are still using our imagination to find the fantasy future. However our dreams are a little different to what they once were. We are no longer creating problem based solutions like we have done in the past and our designs impact many different areas so no wonder our ‘dreams’ today seem small. Looking to the future today requires constant imagination and dreaming as minute by minute more things become reality.

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