In the ever-evolving landscape of design, where inquiry is the lifeblood of innovation, there is an ongoing necessity to question, adjust, and enhance our designed environment. An unconventional and powerful source of inspiration and transformation emerges in the convergence of space and design.
I’m not only talking about time and space, but the outer-space perspective that possesses the remarkable ability to inspire groundbreaking ideas. This exploration into the convergence of space and design presents a transformative journey. As a space architect, futurist, and entrepreneur, I've ventured into this new realm of opportunities, where space exploration meets design innovation.
This voyage extends beyond the stars, touching upon the essence of humanity itself. It encompasses the redefinition of our future, the pushing of boundaries, and the creation of sustainable, inclusive solutions. This succinct exploration navigates the impact of space-inspired design on human identity and sustainability, explores the synergy between space and terrestrial design, prompting critical and constant inquiries into our established practices - what propels us forward and what impedes our progress. It guides us through a process of unlearning, and envisioning a blueprint for possible futures according to current technologies and tools we have, the possibilities ahead, and the grand diversity of humanity we are designing for.
THE COSMIC PERSPECTIVE ON DESIGN
When we venture into the realm of designing environments and products for human survival and prosperity beyond Earth, we embark on a profound journey of reimagining the very essence of design. Be it within the confines of a spacecraft, aboard an orbiting space station, or within lunar and Martian habitats, the conditions starkly contrast those of our home planet. Even the fundamentals, such as gravity and the natural movements of the human body, undergo a transformative shift.
This journey compels us to revisit the very building blocks of design, from our approaches to breathing, eating, drinking, moving, and sleeping to our interactions with our environment and one another. This process invites us to challenge our existing solutions, prompting us to ponder whether we've been using them out of habit rather than necessity. It's an exploration of how we can create designs that not only serve us better but also elevate our experience, enhance our performance and enrich our lives. This exploration involves an evaluation of current and future technologies and developments, aligned with the cultural and societal freedoms of today and our aspirations for the future.
REDEFINING HUMAN IDENTITY
In the vast expanse of space, human perception undergoes a profound shift. As astronauts cast their gaze back at Earth from the confines of their spacecraft, a profound realization washes over them: Earth is a singular entity, a unified whole working together for the greater good. From the boundless vantage point of space, the divisions of our maps and ideologies vanish, and what remains is a breathtaking sense of interconnectedness. This altered perspective has a lasting impact on human identity, prompting us to see ourselves as inhabitants of a shared world, our own spaceship.
This shift in perception holds deep implications for the world of design and innovation. It challenges us to create solutions that resonate with this newfound sense of unity and interconnectedness.
In this context, the role of inclusive design takes on a new level of significance. While design has the power to elevate our lives, it can also inadvertently disrupt them. The next phase of design must go beyond mere inclusivity and accessibility; it must embrace flexibility, adaptability, and the ability for self-personalization as foundational principles. In space, where environments are inherently challenging and resources limited, flexible design is not a luxury; it's a necessity, and the same should hold true for Earth. This approach recognizes that we are not designing just for ourselves and the likes of us today but for the grand diversity within humanity and for the many possible tomorrows.
A BLUEPRINT FROM SPACE FOR EARTH'S FUTURE
In the depths of the cosmos, where there is no existing supporting infrastructure and challenges abound, the concept of sustainability isn't a mere option; it's an undisputed imperative. Space missions compel us to push the boundaries of sustainable and regenerative practices, from resource recycling to self-sufficiency in energy and food production. The urgency that space imposes prompts us to question whether Earth should adopt a similar commitment to sustainability and regeneration.
What if we applied the rigor and innovation cultivated in space exploration to our planet's challenges? Could we use the demanding requirements of space travel as a catalyst for reimagining our approach to sustainability right here on Earth?
The blueprint for a sustainable future extends beyond resource management; it's a testament to our determination to safeguard our planet's well-being.
Imagine the possibilities. Design, much like our ever-evolving world, faces new challenges and horizons. Climate change reminds us of our planet's vulnerability to our unceasing demands, while digital technologies have reshaped the way we connect across time and space and social justice plays a role in our everyday lives. Standing at this juncture, we're beckoned to embrace cosmic design thinking. The convergence of space and design has guided me on a transformative odyssey, questioning our identity, inspiring sustainable, inclusive, and disruptive solutions, and emphasizing our interconnectedness. The enigmatic boundary between Earth and space isn't a barrier but a frontier, one filled with not only unknowns, but endless possibilities.
- This article is based on the keynote presentation by Arch. Michal Ziso, presented at the World Design Assembly Tokyo 2023 by WDO (World Design Organization).