|With the onset of climate and ecological breakdown, organized human life faces a precarious present and an even bleaker future. The sixth IPCC report (2021-2022) states that the window for drastic climate action is closing fast. At the same time, the atmosphere of climate disinformation, denialism, and delay has calcified the collective social imagination, unable to see desirable futures beyond Business as Usual. For this thesis in Industrial Design, the question is relatively simple—can Industrial Design imagine radically hopeful climate-resilient futures? This Research through/by Design thesis answers this question by imagining a desirable future that doesn’t yet exist and what it may take to get there.
This thesis travels through two worlds or paradigms—‘What-is ‘and ‘What Could-be.’ The world of ‘what-is’ explores the typologies of defuturing and dehumanization as they manifest with climate breakdown. The thesis imagines a speculative future world that ‘could-be,’ explored in the accompanying The Open Journal of ReFuturing, a fictional design research journal from 2131 AD. The journal is written as an indigenous critique from the future, looking back at the first century of climate reparations through the speculative solutions enacted today. These speculative solutions are generated through/by designerly ‘What-ifs’ and its designed artifacts for climate-resilient solutions and ‘Technologies of Care’ that make this world thinkable and doable today. This seriously playful yet studied imagination of ReFuturing Studies is an invitation to reimagine a transformed ‘ecology of disciplines’ for climate action—to reclaim and rehumanize the dehumanized present such that the future is profoundly different when we arrive in it.