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Keynote - Nicolas Nova

The Kavli Foundation keynote lecture

Nicolas Nova is a multidisciplinary researcher working at the intersection of anthropology, computer science and design who studies technologies and what people do with them. He holds a PhD in Social Sciences (University of Geneva) and another PhD in Human-Computer Interaction from the Swiss Institute of Technology (EPFL, Switzerland). He was previously visiting professor at ENSCI - Les Ateliers (Paris) and Politecnico di Milano, visiting researcher at the Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA), a researcher at the Media and Design Lab (EPFL, Switzerland) and co-founder / curator of the Lift Conferences, a series of international events about digital culture, design and innovation.

Nicolas has been involved in and identified with hybrid design / futures practices such as “design fiction” for ten years (see further information below) and has been instrumental in bringing this approach to wider attention through presenting, teaching and writing, as well as speculative projects featured worldwide in exhibits, client works, festivals, and in the page of the international press. He spends his time running international field-work projects, documenting new signals in the world and making sense of them to inform and inspire design or strategy. Nicolas works both as co-founder of The Near Future Laboratory, a design fiction consultancy based in Europe and California and as Associate Professor at the Geneva School of Arts and Design (HEAD – Genève).

Design Fictions and the Near Future
Design Fiction is an approach that focuses on the creation of tangible evidence of the existence of possible near futures. Rather than describing future products, scenarios, user experiences or everyday life in some near future world, Design Fiction would create evidentiary material that represents those products, scenarios, and experiences in a way that suspends disbelief in that near future’s possibility. For instance, the Near Future Laboratory has created a Quick Start Guide for the Self-Driving Car; product catalogues for an Ikea of the near future; the sports pages from a newspaper in a near future with data-driven football; surveillance camera footage from a corner convenience store from some near future plus many more visceral exemplars of life in the future. By creating tangible artifacts such as these, Design Fiction sits in a fertile middle between pragmatic design and speculation. Based on recent examples we developed at the Near Future Laboratory, the talk will introduce this approach at the crossroads of design, futures research and anthropology, and show how they help us speculate on the near future possibilities for societal and technological change.

Session speakers

Nicolas Nova is our keynote speaker on 11 June
Co-founder of The Near Future Laboratory and Associate Professor at the Geneva School of Arts and Design
The Near Future Laboratory