Cardini Creates Global Futures Lab


Global Futures Lab is a project created by Paolo Cardini (Associate Professor, Industrial Design) as the RISD Global faculty fellow for the current academic year.  This announcement is to provide faculty an overview of the project (included below) and to invite faculty participation.

Being at RISD, a School committed to critical inquiry around the intersections of globalization and art & design and where many students are from countries outside of the so-called “West”, Cardini immediately felt the urge to reset his general idea of future and reset his assumptions about the meaning of social critique. Through student projects, he soon realized that what appeared to be a dystopian reality for some was, in reality, a mere representation of the present for others. As such, Cardini understood that the field of Discursive/Speculative Design practice continues to operate within a white-western perspective and context. The Global Futures Lab seeks to disrupt this model and to craft a more pluralistic and inclusive debate about the future by engaging in a global discourse with participants in specific geographic locations across the world to share dreams, fears and doubts across and among cultures. For the Lab, Cardini will collaborate with institutions based in Iran, Ethiopia, India and Peru, to create on-site workshops that explore this concept from the distinct local perspectives. During each workshop participants will be asked to build objects, “souvenirs from the futures”, able to illustrate what the future would be in their own reality as consequence of, or in response to, their socio-political-economical present condition. The workshops will be based on Speculative Design, Speculative Ethnography and Design Fiction theories and the goal will be to produce physical artifacts, developed by the students themselves or in collaboration with local artisans. Ultimate goals for the project are the creation of a mobile exhibition, a Symposium during fall 2017 and a potential publication able to collect the many voices from this journey.

Paolo Cardini and the RISD Global Partners office invite whoever is interested in being involved in this project (with written contributions, travels, participation in the workshops, conversations or simply to exchange thoughts and perspectives), to please reach out at or

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