Design beyond technology: Visions of Future

Guillem Ferran
10 min readMar 23, 2019

The past Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd March at The Design Hub Barcelona, Design Museum of Barcelona had held the first edition of Design Beyond Technology (DBT), with the motto Visions of future. DBT is the new project promoted by the Association of Industrial Design of the FAD (ADIFAD) with the intention of a biennial periodicity, in an intersection with the already Honorable ADI Design Prizes. The main objective was to explain the society during two days about the future role of Design and especially Product design in relation to Technology.

As Salvi Plaja, President of ADI explained, once “we finished the awards, we saw that there were Many highly-designed non-technological products and few Little-designed technological products”. This it would seem like companies choose between design and technology. Salvi commented: “if we add that in the last Mobile World Congress, it is expected that in 2020, the 5G will improve the performance of more than 20,000 million objects that will be connected to the Internet, which will generate millions and millions of data managed by Artificial Intelligence.”

“Does that show 20,000 million objects connected to the internet? Who and how will we connect these objects? How will the design companies do it? and those who do not have Design? Who will it help Will the design of these objects to be the same? Or in other words Current, how will the digital transformation of these products and these companies be?”

As Rafaella Perrone , one of the commissioner together with Gennís Senén and Raul Garcia explained “we could name the conference's design or technology but it would be excluding. design beyond technology gives to design meaning of service, value and sense.”

Program of the conferences

The speakers were from different backgrounds to attract more people from other disciplines: architects, computer programmers, scientific, cyborgs, Ceos together with designers, product designers, UI/UX, creatives … The program was a mix of international with local creatives. One of the strengths of the sessions was to bring internationally renowned speakers from the sector of the new technologies to Barcelona while being a platform for advancing local professionals who are already working in this field.

Following the hashtag #DesignBeyondTechnology, we can see some of the insights via Twitter and Instagram, here I will make a short resume of the main ideas and projects I found interesting.

The event opened with Joao Alburquerque, associate and future of the new Barcelona headquarters BIG Office, BIG (BIG-BJARKE INGELS GROUP) are a based group of architects, designers, urbanists, landscape professionals, interior and product designers, researchers and inventors. The office is led by 17 Partners, with his renowned founder Bjarke Ingels, participant of one of the most creative thinkers and imaginative minds in the new Netflix original documentary series, Abstract: The Art of Design. Journey.

Joao Alburquerque explained different projects, I found very inspiring three projects: the big U, the Hype and Mars science city. Three futuristic visions of how new challenges are facing and redesigning the city.


The Big U was a federal competition of the United States to reduce risk at the New York City in case of a new hurricane and to give ideas for flood protection and social infrastructure for the coastline.


The Hype is a commission to vision the future of mobility for Abu Dabbi to design a proposal for Hyperloop One, the first Elon Musk’s idea that Sci-fi writers and dreamers have long envisioned ways to travel at high speeds through low-pressure tubes.


Mars is a commission of the government of United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Rashid space centre an idea to create a self builded science city in Mars. The challenge that explores is to bring the machines to build in mars.

The second speaker was Steven Goldfarb from ATLAS Experiment, CERN. ATLAS is one of the four most important experiments of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN, using precision measurements to push back the frontiers of knowledge, seeking answers to fundamental questions.

Arts at cern is a residency program of up to three months to invite artists to further their artistic practice in connection with fundamental research at CERN. The training of young researchers is also an essential part of CERN’s educational activities together with summer students, openlab summer students and fellowships.


Steven comment that he received a question from a child that is the aim of his work: How we can measure what we can't see? The Scientific approach is to launch questions to let creativity find answers: Why we are here? Which are the basic elements of matter? Which are the fundamental forces of nature?

Francesca Sangalli, head of the Color&Trim-Concept&Strategy Department of Seat till September, After 16 years at Mercedes-Benz Sangalli explained the design process of making a car from concept to industrialisation. Despite the time to market has been reduced from 7 to 4 years in the car industry. A car is one of the most complex and difficult objects.


Francesca explored the new Challenges of the new interior uses of autonomous cars and the opportunities in the technology process. As Francesca: “One day the display or the Steering wheel will disappear and intelligent materials or light will replace the inside of the car”


Aldo Sollazzo, one of the founders of Noumena, a multidisciplinary tech company implementing innovative solutions in the fields of Robotics, 3D printing and Wearable Tech. Aldo, Teacher at Iaac explained different projects, included the On Site Robotics , the Big Scale Sustainable 3D Printing,

On site Robotics

The day Finished with Elina Nilsson and Roger Pujol of B-Reel, tilled as a creative agency for modern brands. B-Reel is a team of 100 storytellers and technologists creating new ways to connect brands and audiences with offices in: Los Angeles, Stockholm, London, New York and Barcelona. That was a proposal of ADGFAD.

The Hublot Digital

They explained 2case studies developed for Gorillaz and Hublot. The Hublot Digital boutique is an Extension of the luxurious experience of a Hublot boutique into a digital service. An entirely new way to experience luxury. By using existing video call services like Skype and Facetime we have made it easy for any Hublot customer to connect with the service. The proposal features a call much richer, allowing the customer to see demonstrations of products, videos, interactive 3D, as well as other significant features through a webcam. Helping staff explain the advanced technology and precise craftsmanship behind every Hublot timepiece.

Thursday finished with a panel guided by Alejandro Masferrer, creator of trytriggers together with Elina Nilsson, Roger Pujol and MarinaAisa,
former UX Engineer at The panel discussed the position of the user, the client and the challenges between the code and the idea. As creative directors and User Interface Designers explored one of the Product Design disciplines that is growing that is Interaction Design
and User Experience Design into the digitization of the products.

Marina Aisa resumed very well: The future will have a lot of technology, but we can't see the past, the present or the future without design.

Next day, Friday 21t, the event was opened in the morning by Miriam Giordano and followed by Raul Garcia.

Toni Juan from Metempsy

The first speaker, was Toni Juan, Ceo and founder of Metempsy, After being an engineer of Intel for 12 years and Compaq for 3 years, had run his own company to create and build supercomputers. Toni advised that we are at the end of an era, that we are close to being able to create a computer that can be more intelligent than humans and this will create a new paradigm that changes the human being and the human goals on all kind of life aspects.

Toni Juan from Metempsy

Toni Juan explained that a computer sometimes needs 5 or 6 years to be developed so have had the challenge to design a lot of computers in a simulation. The aproach to understand and prospect user needs make him this claim: “We design a product that uses a technology that we still do not have for a user that we still do not know what their needs will be.”

Toni finished scared the public asking how we can’t assure that we are all in a simulation.

Moon Ribas

The next speaker was Moon Ribas, known as a Spanish avant-garde artist and cyborg activist, creator with Neil Harbisson of the Cyborg Fundation (2010). Moon, that has a vibrating chip implanted in her left leg assures: “I can sense and perceive things beyond the things I came to the world. I feel more connected to the earth” Moon gives a positive proposal as an artist to the word cyborg. the word “cyborg” was first coined in 1960 by scientists Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline. Moon is a defender of the cyborg art, as other terms like reveled reality indeed of Virtual Reality or transespecie. Moon reivindicate the possibility to design to yourself.

Tej Power Soft

The first product designer was Tej Chauhan that explained his work, from his early experience in Nokia, to what is his studio, called as suovenirs of the near future, Tej showed his approach to what he calls Power Soft. The soft power is a powerfull way to connect people with brands though objects.

Tesco Hudl

Tej explained the success of Hudl, of how using color, shape, and material we can reach the consumer, designing a good balance between the holes of a speaker we can communicate a more friendly object and get engage in the way the user look and picked up, the user can feel more secure though design decisions.

Tej Power Soft

Tej showcase the last project made for Alexa, Deuce like a new typology of object that will revolve the possibilities of telephone with voice enhancing a space between private and collective calls.

Punkt father

The last international speaker was Petter Neby, creator of Punkt. with very deep and slow reflections it has kidnapped with a lot of big thoughts: we are the data we consume, is Google making us stupid?, what Free costs or the constraints as a user, the promised land of the age of surveillance capitalism…

Petter discovered the philosophy of what he considers a world movement, The Digital Detox Challenges or The Punkt Library are just examples of his products sell by internet and their users is 25–35 years old, as his words for the movement are: The future is still young

Jasper Sketxes

Punkt mobile that has been designed by Jasper Morrison, as Art director and Product Designer of MP-01, MP-02, DP-01 Dect Phone and the 1USB Charger. The UI/UX has been developed by Studio Folder

Spark Cocreative future

Finally, we saw some national cases of Perspectiva, Leitat and Stimulo.

I found very inspirational the Mini-Spark, Portable Augmented Reality display to be used in cocreative work, developed inside Spark Project funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The day finished with a panel guided by Sofia Majan, product designer at Zinc, Marc Real de Perspectiva, Ruben Arrientos from Leitat and Xavier Mayoral Stimulo

Following the hashtag #DesignBeyondTechnology, we can see some of the insights via Twitter and Instagram and other highlights that surely I couldn’t resume here.

This article has been written for ADIFAD webpage. To know more about thesecond edition you can read Digital Realities.



Guillem Ferran

Product Design Teacher. Empower entrepreneurs, products and ideas. Barcelona.