Stuart Candy

Stuart Candy’s lecture was impressive. He was introduced as an experiential futurist. I was fascinated by the term “futurist”. He started off the lecture by putting forth the question “How might we design a better world?”. And then rephrased that into “How might we world a better design?”. The first part of the lecture was connected to

“How we use our experience from the past to navigate change”

So when we think of the past and our future the same areas of the brain get lightened up which is understandable. Because our understanding of the future as we stand in the present comes from things like films we see, comics we read, the education we get. We are resorting to the pool that we have encountered and we are using that understanding/ that particular world view to imagine a future.  

“We shape our tools and in turn, they end up shaping us, We shape our buildings and in turn, they shape us, Similarly, we shape our future and in turn, it shapes us” -Dator’s third law

This was all a great build up to the most interesting part according to me. He came to the next question which was “How do we scaffold our imagination to think of things we haven’t experienced before?”

Mr. Candy mentioned Weezer and his song Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori. Weezer had a very intricate process of prompting song elements. He maintained spreadsheets, a lot of spreadsheets. If someone is to ask Weezer how do you not get frustrated with composing music the answer is simple the work you put forth and your past experiences, in this case, it is journaling helps. It is all the work that he put forth for 25 years that results in a many 3 min breakthroughs. We have to scaffold our sense and creative process to find things which are innovative. I understand this to be like keep feeding your brain with immense good stuff. Here the word good can be debatable because the definition of “good” could mean different things for you and me. You keep working towards adding stuff to your diary and that is a good source of stuff that you can just pick up and use.


The second half of the lecture talked about future possibilities and the generative frameworks for a futuristic idea.

“Humankind is an art project about space”

“Future practice is also about generative processes and frameworks”


As time progresses the uncertainty arises. Maybe I can predict about 5 years into the future with some amount of surety, but 20 years and 100 years down the line are difficult for me to predict. We all have different expectations of the future but they boil down to a finite number of plotlines. That means whatever path you take you will reach one out of a finite number of options. (I don’t understand this still!)


The 4 generative frameworks for future thinking that he mentioned and explained them with the examples of movies are:

  1. Grow
  2. Collapse
  3. Discipline
  4. Transform

These 4 models when I think of now are the titles of 4 sets of cards that he designed for the card game A thing from the future. These are a set of 108 cards leading to almost 3.7 million combinations!! Imagine the number of ideas we can think of if we can put diverse people in the room and let them play with these cards. Also, I always think if we put people in dialogue with each other something new comes up. Some form of synthesis takes place.


“There is an experiential gulf between how we typically represent/narrate futures for serious purposes, and what real situations feel like on the ground”

Because we discount the future- our sense of what is real and important now outweighs what will be real and important tomorrow.

He mentioned this while talking about the nature pod, which is just an immersive experience which people didn’t realize was actually not real but the reason why it was created was to make them think about the future from more emotional rather than cognitive standpoint.


“Experimental futures the design of situation and stuff from the future to catalyze insight and change.”

Stuart Candy talked of doing more DATA DRAMATIZATION and not DATA VISUALIZATION. Dramatizing data would be adding flavor to data. Instead of showing the negative impacts of global warming on charts and reports. Make users experience it. That would help get more behavior change. I can think of many instances where this is so true maybe Peta advertisements could be turned more experiential. This sparks something in my brain which is about walking in shoes of others, perspective forming, and adding to a world view.

Experiential Futures

“A good designer would be useful in any world they were dropped into.”


Towards the end, he mentioned something which was really very eyeopening sort off “Any useful statement about the future should first appear ridiculous”.-Dator’s second law

And I totally agree with this. This is true for any project that we do. Any topic which we choose before it gets manifested it is vague. But slowly and steadily when you try to delve deeper you would realize it is possible and you can do it.

Featured Image by: Alex Mcdowell

PS: Sorry for a long post but this lecture changed something in me and I had this desire to let it out

Discussion — One Response

  • Rachael Paine 04/05/2019 on 7:11 PM

    What a great post! I regret missing this lecture and so appreciate your write-up, including all the great quotes.

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