Is the only way to save the future to do the wrong thing? Graphic designer John Bielenberg won't go that far... but he does think that the key may be thinking the wrong thing.

Bielenberg is somewhat of an optimist when it comes to the future, and how designers can help shape it:

We're at multiple global tipping points where the future is going to be radically different than the past-global climate change, the backside of peak oil and fossil fuel, water issues, population growth in third world countries and the rise of the middle class there, the financial collapse. Everything is linked now. You have the Internet and nobody really knows yet what that means. You can either be pessimistic about the future or you can be optimistic. For me, an optimistic alternative includes ingenuity and creativity, and I package that under the big D: Design Thinking and how that can shape the future.


Bielenberg's Project M is an interdisciplinary design program created to help design impact communities, and his new project, the Mav Lab looks to go one step further, by marrying groundbreaking thinkers with producers to try and... well, change the world, or at least the way we think about it:

There is a thing called "overweighting information" that all humans do. If there's a shark attack off the coast of Santa Cruz and it's well publicized, people in New Jersey will stay out of the water. They are overweighting that catastrophic incident. Even though intellectually there's no correlation between the two coasts, it changes our behavior anyway. To me that was just so smart. I thought. "How am I a victim of that same kind of principle?" That's what led to Thinking Wrong. A lot of what we do for clients at our firm is not design, it's more what we call Think Wrong Tanks... You use Thinking Wrong to generate all kinds of possible ideas and the [makers] are rapidly prototyping. They would be asking: What would that idea look like? What would the graphics look like? What about t-shirts? And they're putting that up on the wall and it would inform moving those ideas forward. Making becomes a part of the process.

Can a t-shirt really save the world? I'm skeptical, but I want to believe; as we integrate our lives with our devices and toys more and more all the time, it stands to reason that the people making those objects become more and more important to us. Who's to say that the future descendant of the iPod won't save us all, one day?


Project M: Thinking Wrong, Doing Right [Metropolis]