Introduction to Design Futures Archeology – ‘Defarch’

We are transforming our world at an alarming rate and in so doing, we are alienating ourselves from it. Our technologically mediated existence is threatening the very democratic process itself. We need to develop a new language, a new literacy, in order to both understand our brave new world, and learn how to live a meaningful existence in it (Dakers, 2006: p. 1).

In a sense, the mechanical intelligence provided by computers is the quintessential phenomenon of capitalism. To replace human judgment with mechanical judgment to record and codify the logic by which the rational, profit maximizing decisions are made-manifests the process that distinguishes capitalism: the rationalization and mechanization of productive processes in the pursuit of profit … The modern world has reached a point where industrialization is being pointed squarely at the human intellect. (Kennedy, 1989: p. 6)

Design Futures Archeology – a mouthful – ‘Defarch’ – represents an exciting new synthesis of theory and system research. It is an attempt to playfully meddle with the previously disparate areas of critical sociology and cultural studies, business and management, and design thinking, materials science, development and studies of innovation. It fuses areas of investigation such as futurology and science and technology studies and melds this with more traditional pragmatic approaches to the future such as strategic management, financial projection, technical forecasting. It also fuses this with social science approaches (critical sociology, cultural studies, research methods).

We believe this is very relevant for emerging business practice, design and development, particularly that aimed at tackling ‘less than certain’ futures. Design Futures Archeology, then, is an attempt to ‘feed-forward’ in design, service and strategic thinking. It should serve as a way to come away from the problem as it is directly encountered, experienced, focussed upon to the point of obsession to return to Herbert Simon’s definition of design: “[e]veryone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” Clearly if one is trying to solve a problem which needs metal with wood, there will be a problem, just as there is placing a square peg in a round hole. But one can change or alter the peg and an abacus is a wooden computer. A knife can spread butter or can be used for killing, so can a computer or an internal combustion engine or a prescribed medicine.

In this blog we welcome contributions not necessarily restricted to the following areas: globalisation, futurology, scenarios, prototyping, emerging pedagogies, new technology, social trends, innovation and creativity studies, craft and future of craft, design processes and theories. We look forward to your contributions, feedback and posts.


  • The ability to make, construct and deconstruct future scenarios, and to make and inform strategic decisions to increase confidence in the/a future.

  • Embrace the fact that all design and entrepreneurial concepts, all practice, are inherently future orientated and, ultimately, globally aimed.

  • Empathizing the benefits or similarity and difference in cultural approaches to design, production and consumption – why this matters in terms of energy, accessibility, inclusiveness, availability, sustainability, quality of life, comfort, security, health, education, happiness and well-being, whatever these terms mean.

  • Developing awareness of the human and culture in integrating design and entrepreneurial education, practice and government policy.

  • Interaction and dialogue is natural, so is design, creativity and play, so in reality, like education, development of all kinds should be a fun game with some serious consequences which need improved outcomes.

  • Realigning socio-technical constituencies, revising in detail and in every case the relationship between democratic rights, economic progress and technologies. Blind faith in the power of the social, bureaucratic or technical only ever scratches the surface and treat the symptoms. The core, the centre is the person, for they determine the value, meaning and relevance of innovation, commerce, technology, education, and politics. Prescient insights about the idea of social networks for all.

  • Defining what needs to be preserved, how much time and energy goes into this, what needs to be revised, rejuvenated, recapitulated, re-invented, regurgitated, re-figured, and refined. What needs to be created anew or needs to drop in on us from outer space to get noticed or facebook likes?

  • Don’t let them come armed only with problems, don’t bring solutions aimed only at the symptoms, work with us, permit us to work with them, so they and we can deliver robust systematic outcomes, whilst we are aware that other systems must co-exist, many of them for future generations…


  1. This is the second time I’ve been to your site. Thnx for sharing more details.

  2. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that
    I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

  3. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get
    the hang of it!

  4. This is a very interesting read, I hope that there are more posts like this to engage the senses 🙂

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