The Big Question April 2018

Do you envision any aspects of life (or workplace) that will break away from the advances of technology and downgrade back to humble beginning (or stay unaffected)?

Razi Riahi, DS.Emotion

Technology made us all more connected but isolated; as human beings, we need to switch off to be able to reconnect: digital detoxes, yoga and no laptop zones are essential. Data shows that, as a person’s web browsing increases, their loneliness also tends to increase. We now seek that human connection. Stories told by people, rather than giant companies. We like old buildings with stories, products made on the day, hand-cut chips and home-made mayonnaise.


Lorna Killick, Oktra

We have found that digital whiteboards have never really caught on. Our team prefer to use traditional whiteboards, or even a quick pen and paper, as part of the creative process and to get ideas down without having to deal with clunky technology. I don’t foresee the new technology being regularly used until it can more seamlessly integrate with the equipment we already use.


Phidias Leonida, Jones and partners

Mass production shifting to mass customisation and eventually to low volume mixed manufacturing. The future brings a complex combination of the hacked, repurposed and upcycled, small batch manufacture and one-offs, which will in the end lead to slow products. Remodelled craft skills, combined with digital manufacturing, will be used to subvert the traditional economic models. Growth will be borne out of scarcity and a rejection of established economic paradigms.


Colin Owen, Maris

There is nothing quite like a face-to-face meeting. Technology is great for verbal discussions but, as designers, we need to understand, read and react to emotion – this is very hard through a technology platform. There is also no substitute to feeling materials, drawing in front of clients and putting a huge tick (or a big cross) through an image with a fat marker. Design is tactile by its very nature and technology will never be able to replace tactility.


Matt Jackson, BDG architecture + design

Accelerating technology has propelled our ‘virtual’ lifestyles and workplaces in so many ways, but the need for real face-to-face interaction is still so important and essential for us as human beings. Virtual communication has its strengths and is constantly developing, but our human social nature and the chemistry this creates by physically putting people together can possibly never be replaced by any virtual reality.

Gustavo Brunelli

Gustavo Brunelli, Hurley Palmer Flatt

I think the control aspect of passive strategies, although it may be helped by technology and self-learning, will remain or even downgrade back to human operation. A typical example is opening windows; we’ve seen ‘all singing and dancing’ buildings that used automated controls to integrate passive and active environmental strategies, such as mixed-mode ventilation. This proved unsuccessful, as it takes away one of the greatest advantages of openable windows – the fact that people can choose when/how much to open.