22–23 January 2020
Nottingham UK
This site uses modern methods to reshape hero areas and rectangles, but your browser doesn't yet support this. To see the enhanced design, use Chrome or Firefox.

Building Better Worlds with Cennydd Bowles

Nottingham Albert Hall
Wednesday 22nd January 2020

Building Better Worlds: a futures design workshop

Full-day workshop with Cennydd Bowles

In the face of unprecedented public scrutiny and a world undergoing deep, complex change, technologists must expand their horizons. Short-term perspectives – more products, more users, more growth – have run out of oxygen. Instead, we need to think more intelligently about our shared futures, and the social, political, and ecological influence the tech industry wields.

Building Better Worlds, a one-day masterclass by Cennydd Bowles, teaches critical, innovative ideas and methods from the emerging fields of speculative design, futures thinking, and experiential futures. By exploring the consequences of emerging technology, and creating design fictions that make potential futures feel vivid and real, you’ll learn to stretch your thinking and your practice alike. Instead of focusing merely on quarterly roadmaps and existing users, you’ll learn to recognise your responsibilities toward future societies and generations, and use that knowledge to help your organisation react smartly to the challenges ahead.

Along the way, you’ll learn how to influence not just the artefacts of the future, but the future itself.


1: Breaking out of the box.
Affirmative design to date · UCD’s blindspots · Externalities · Unintended consequences and problem creation · Terminology: critical design, speculative design, etc · Is prediction possible? · Depiction, not prediction · Strategic foresight v design futures · Exercise: Actor triangle.

2: Futures tools and methods.
Futuring as a verb · The future is plural · The futures cone · The 4 Ps: probable, plausible, possible, preferable · Futures research · Horizon scanning · Two mnemonics: STEEPV and AIEOU · The scan plan · Types of signal · OODA loops · The futures wheel · Scenarios · Backcasting · Exercise: The giant futures cone.

3: Prototyping futures.
Design as critique, design as provocation · Experiential futures · Worldbuilding and storytelling · Design fiction and ‘provocatypes’ · Utopias, dystopias, and protopias · Participatory futures. Exercise: Scenario development and provocatyping.

4: Design fiction exercise
Design fiction show and tell.

(Agenda subject to minor change.)

Attendees will learn...

  • fundamental tools and principles of futures design, and its related disciplines futures thinking and speculative & critical design;
  • valuable new tools for exploring and anticipating potential consequences of emerging technologies;
  • how to identify and synthesise weak signals, and how to tell compelling stories about where they might lead;
  • how to use design fiction to create tangible objects that help people see, hear, and believe potential futures;
  • new skills that expand designers’ confidence and strategic influence.

Who should attend?

The workshop is ideal for designers in the technology space, such as UX or digital product designers, who want to expand their horizons and strategic influence.

Although the workshop has a design-first perspective, it requires no hands-on design expertise. Those in other tech roles, such as product managers and software engineers, will still find the content accessible and relevant. All levels of seniority including leadership roles are welcome; all views are equal in the workshop environment.

Your instructor

Cennydd Bowles is an acclaimed digital product designer and futurist with seventeen years of experience advising clients including Twitter, the BBC, Ford, and Samsung. His focus today is ethical technology and design. He has spoken on the topic at Google, Facebook, and Stanford University, and been an invited futurist for the UN and the BSI’s Responsible Innovation steering group.

Cennydd has studied Innovation & Future Thinking at Istituto Europeo di Design and holds a Masters in IT from The University of Nottingham. His second book, Future Ethics, was published in 2018.

Refreshments and lunch

Tea and coffee are served during registration and all breaks. Breakfast rolls are available during registration, with pastries during morning breaks. Full day workshoppers get a buffet lunch and afternoon cake.

PDF icon Convince Your Boss — 250KB PDF

See all 2020 workshops

Cennydd Bowles

Cennydd Bowles

Cennydd Bowles is a London-based designer and futurist with seventeen years of experience advising clients including Twitter, Ford, Cisco, and the BBC. His focus today is the ethics of emerging technology. He has lectured on the topic at Facebook, Stanford University, and Google, and is a frequent speaker at technology and design events worldwide. His second book, Future Ethics, was published in 2018.


In-kind partners