It was once hoped and dreamed that ‘futuristic design’ might provide realistic glimpses into our actual future. ‘Futurism’ as such, however, has become a thing of the past – yet there are still ways in which the aesthetic associated with ‘The Future’ remains alluring, as these beautiful pseudo-futuristic designs from Hello Karl illustrate.
But let your mind open wide for a moment, as these designs largely speak for themselves. Instead of discussing them directly, the focus in this brief article will be on the bigger picture of the design world, a brief and broad overview of its new directions and innovative developments. From classic styles and techniques to new materials and technologies, a great deal is changing right now with regards to design. Emerging fields as well as online portfolios, freelance design worker hubs and other tools have opened up incredible new doors for aspiring designers – but are changing the field for established professionals as well.
It is a liberating yet frightening time to work and play within the ever-widening world of design. On the one hand, design is at the heart of everyday things – and designers are unlikely to be replaced by science-fiction-esque automatons. Also, technological progress creates ever more design jobs and opportunities. On the other hand, as any designer knows, having more options and fewer restrictions can be a serious challenge to the imagination – and in a poor economy some clients start to see design work as expendable.
Still, in all areas of design, there are (overall) more possibilities than ever. Fabrication techniques have turned once-visionary ideas into workable realities. Complex curves, precarious forms and unlikely materials have become commonplace resources at the disposal of designers, architects and builders like never before. Moreover, things like 3D printers offer potential promises: we may be able to design and create highly complex objects at home in the shockingly near future. Then again, maybe not.
So what is the ‘future’ of design? No one can say. It seems a good linguistic step forward, however, that designers and historians have abandoned their pretensions to prescience in labeling movements like ‘Post-Modernism’ – designs in the period that followed from the Modern Movement – rather than suggesting they have clear insight what The Future holds (ala Futurism). While styles will no doubt change greatly in the coming decades, there is a timelessness and surprising permanence to the pervasive roll of design in daily visual culture. Hello Karl illustrates the amazing abilities of one contemporary designer to span the spectrum of possibilities – creating architectural, industrial, fashion and other design visions for an uncertain and wonderfully variegated next stage of design development.