The technological objects we’ve surrounded ourselves with over the last 10 (phones, tablets, wearables), 30 (computers), 50 (TVs), 75 (radios) and 100 years (cars) will likely disappear over the next 10.
It’s quite possible that the mid-21st century front room will look like the mid-19th century one (interior design notwithstanding). A few books on the shelves, already read. Some pictures on the walls. A fire.
The past, coming back to us.
It’s not that we won’t use computers and phones, watch TV or travel from place to place. The ones we use now will become landfill, while their functions will, literally, disappear into our floors and walls, over our eyes, behind our ears, maybe inside our bodies.
And as they disappear, the interfaces we’ve spent 100 years designing for them will disappear too – the keyboard and keypad, the screen and what goes on it, the steering wheel and brake pedal, buttons, dials, knobs, switches.
But the way things are designed seems unlikely to disappear. The process – understand and define a problem properly, create a solution based on meeting the needs of the people facing the problem, test the solution with them to discover further improvements – is robust (some would say because it’s common sense, but it’s not like we have a glut of that at the moment).
Out of industrial and product design then, embraced by digital design, but outliving them both, design thinking will continue to shape the services that emerge in the years and decades to come.
Archaeologists sift the earth for the tools of ancient peoples, and they are recognisable to us even though many of the things they did are long gone.
They fit the hand, and are still sharp.
Also published on Medium.