At present, a child’s involvement in iterating tomorrow is usually confined, she reminds me, to focus group input on a new toy, and is invariably about utility, transaction and appeal; for that, read using children to increase the financial appeal of a toy or piece of kit or a new game. But what if you are asking them about the future and meaning of home? Of saving the planet? Redesigning our cities with a people- or children-first perspective?
Koby-Hirshmann and her team are currently doing just that with Danish design and concept lab Space10, where the focus ‘isn’t on practicalities, safety or cost’ but on the notion of home when you apply multiple voices, geographies, genders and dreams to it.
They’re also working with TBA21 – a contemporary art organisation established to foster a better understanding of the world’s oceans and its coastal cities – to co-author a series of design interventions for coastal cities, alongside architects and designers. In East London, she and her team have built a hacking garage to allow fans of Converse to express their creativity.
In all instances, as she explains in our In Conversation session, she uses a speculative approach and scenario-building process that places children at the heart of all activity. ‘If they’re going to inherit tomorrow, they should be at the heart of developing it.’ But so too should nature and the natural world, or as she refers to it, ‘the more than human world’. And finally, when these two parts of the process have been considered and explored, she looks at how solutions should be output using different formats, so that the solutions can be multi-sensorial, ‘an idea, as well as a product, a service or a piece of code instead of something that is tangible or easily commodifiable’.
With children, she reminds us finally, brands especially always want to output stuff they can buy, whereas we really should be trying to output dreams that we can capture and cherish.
You can find out more about Beth and FAM here.