I think the new year, 2018, will offer us a better future look than the last. I’m not talking about the future as seen in science fiction, but the reality of what we can truly experience. My feeling is based on what I see and read, as well as a hunch that we are on the verge of experiencing that new technology future. That said, I’m also hopeful that things like ecology and climate change don’t get worse, but instead get better. I’m optimistic, too, that what we learn will not only maintain, but will improve our fragile environment.

Recently, I attended the Future Perfect Exhibition in Taipei. I know you’re thinking that most things are rarely perfect, and that the future with all its unknowns is no exception, but seeing a possible glimpse of what the future could hold is difficult to resist. If nothing else, that would give us ideas, and certainly a bit of hope, too. It may not be all science fiction.

What does the ideal future look like? Can it be experienced?

What is “an ideal future”? According to Taipei Future Perfect it should be created with the “Circular Design”, where design doesn’t just look at the “here and now” of materials and products, but rather at the continuing future life of those materials and products. This is far removed from the design, create, build, and dispose models of the past. While there may be a learning curve for some, many young designers have been raised with this concept of “Circularity”, and find it quite natural to future-design this way. That said, everyone can design in this way, because it make more sense to do so. It goes without saying that this means considering recycling design, in all new, or revised products, too. If done right, generations of products take on new meaning for generations of users of those products. It’s not only good environmental stewardship, but could be the best marketing concept ever.

This is true for Taipei, but also holds true for the world, too. Future thinking this concept means building and sustaining a “Circular Economy”. In this type of economy, design promotes efficient use of resources, recycles and reuses resources, and avoids increasing risks to the environment. Avoiding ecological burdens makes sense.

We can begin to experience this idea at the FUTURE PERFECT gallery. It features a unique use of space at Taipei’s Fongfu South Lane. It’s not a large space, but its exhibits clearly present arrangements divided into different circular design motifs such as “object”, “experimental”, and more (see exhibit images). While this mini-exhibit style may not be something you’re used to seeing, it is something found in many international markets. For example, in Tokyo and Milan, miniature design exhibitions are commonly seen in small stores, including coffee shops. The size of the shop doesn’t have to be large to share a future product design story. It’s actually something that engages visitors as they enter the space. That can be more valuable than words, and is certainly a way to increase customer flow by helping to increase active participation rather than shorter passive walk-throughs. These spaces are much more than window dressing; they are living spaces to showcase products.

Let’s take a look at some of the exhibits, and possibly you can get a feeling of how it might be to enter one of these design space. While this may initially seem a moment in circular design, think of it more as passing through to get to the other side and beyond. You’ll find it difficult to be passive as you experience these real-life dioramas. As you view the images, look for creative reuse and artistic recycling in the products displayed. Hopefully, this will spark new ideas for use in your own work and life.