At IDEO we help our clients wrestle with big systemic questions and occasionally we tackle some of those questions ourselves. It’s a speculative design exercise we have named “Designs On—“. Designers across our studios take time between projects and after hours to explore topics the best way we know how: through our craft. This intuitive approach departs from well-documented methodologies IDEO is known for because we are not seeking answers; we are asking more questions. We want to spark imagination, exploration and dialogue. And so the concepts selected for Designs On— are not well-vetted outcomes from weeks of human-centered research. They are preliminary ideas that provoke thought and, hopefully, inspire us and those around us to see challenging issues from new perspectives. In our last issue of Designs On— we explored the theme of Aging. This year, we chose Citizenship. Why?
The 21st century is digitally native. While continents continue to drift, our newly networked world is metaphorically returning to a social Pangea, increasingly blending cultures and economies. In 2016 we’ve acutely felt the shifts and friction of this rapid coming together.
As we discussed the theme for this issue of Designs On— we waded through the same anxieties that many people feel due to this change. But as designers, we became more excited about the new opportunities this connected world presents to us. And so we chose to explore a theme that was both abstract and human. Citizenship.
Citizenship is active and passive. It is who we are individually and how we relate to our society. It is an internal motivator driving us to action and an official’s appeal to our greater good. And while our passports and flags define one facet of our citizenship, an increasingly borderless globe connects us around the world.
In this Designs On— we explored three expressions of citizenship: Identity, Community and Engagement.
1) Identity—an exploration of how we are defined by geopolitical structures and how we relate to them.
2) Community—an exploration of relationships and shared purpose.
3) Engagement—an exploration of shaping our own society.
The 23 new products, services and entities on this site were created by IDEO designers from our nine studios plus IDEO.org, resulting in a truly global and optimistic perspective. We hope these ideas inspire you to reflect and take action.