Back to the F**kture: Ariane van de Ven

type - podcast
In his latest Back to the F**kture podcast, The Future Laboratory co-founder Martin Raymond talks art, artists and why we connect with future forecaster and French cultural analyst, Ariane van de Ven

There’s a phrase in EM Forster’s Howard’s End that invariably comes to mind when I meet with French forecaster and cultural analyst, Ariane van de Ven, and it’s this: ‘Only connect’. 

Unlike many forecasters I know, she’s an inveterate connector, always looking, always listening, always reaching out, and always plugging into those parts of the culture that few of us ever delve into – the artist on the edge, a drill performer before their breakthrough, the theoretical architect that has yet to realise a building. 

As I found out when we caught up for my latest Back to the F**kture podcast, for her, forecasting is all about ‘connecting people to culture, so that those connections in turn drive insight, fuel empathy, and above all seed innovation’.  

But it is also about connecting people to art and using art and artists – she studied art history, and worked at the ICA’s programmes and talks department, and at MoMA PS1’s pioneering outdoor music series Warm Up – to help global brands unshackle their thinking, consider extremes and use the sometimes lateral and tangential skills artists draw on to better inform their own creative and innovative processes. 

‘Most organisation shy away from extremes,’ she tells me. ‘But artists are often extreme people, who have made that choice to live in extremes, so by definition they are always challenging themselves and others in ways that force them to live beyond the norm, and to inhabit tomorrow before the rest of us.’ 

Published by:

17 August 2021

Author: Martin Raymond and Ariane van de Ven



But don’t for a moment think that Ariane comes from that ethereal school of forecasters where her analysis of tomorrow is suitably vague enough or floral enough to inspire, rather than inform and innovate; she is a former agency planner, has a Cartesian brain (she’s French after all, with Corsican, Italian and Russian roots) and carries about with her a formidable black book as wide as the Place de la République near where she grew up, and where her family still lives.  

And it’s probably her blended Franco-Russian-Italian sensibilities that make her such a globalist, and that black book of hers is as cosmopolitan as it gets. When you speak to her, she’s invariably in Mexico City, Paris, Nice, London, Venice, Milan, Barcelona or Tokyo, sometimes squeezing in three or more places within the same week.  But she’s always doing that thing she loves most: connecting, meeting with ‘super-smart people’ (one of her favourite phrases) and taking that smartness and translating it into ‘super-clear’ moments of innovation and insight. 

You can find out more about Ariane on her website here. You can also connect with her on Instagram here.

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