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When we design futures at Echos, we focus on creating desirable futures. And while we are designing desirable futures, it is essential to ask who this future is desirable for and who are the people involved in creating this future.

Both questions are important because what is desirable for one group of people might not be considered desirable for another. In other words, it is subjective and defined by the context of what would benefit a particular group of people and not necessary people outside of that group.

When we begin a futures design project, we ask – 

  • Who is included in the design of this new future?
  • Who is or could be excluded from the design process, and why?
  • What is the impact of this future on the people who are included in its design and the impact on the people who might not benefit from it?


It is essential to understand what is considered desirable is subjective.. No design system is equitable for all parties. It is crucial to understand that as much as possible, the futures we deem desirable should work towards equality and opportunities for broad sections of the population.

Juliana Proserpio, co-founder of Echos, says, “The design of desirable futures is an approach that helps us visualise futures far beyond what we believe will happen, such as trends or forecasts, but rather as a collective and intentional construction to create positive and impactful futures for society.”

Our Four Principles

At Echos, we are guided by four principles when designing desirable futures. We use them to ensure we are developing futures full of possibility and positive outcomes for as broad a spectrum as possible across society.


First and foremost, we must consider what is best for the people involved in any possible future when we develop it. A diverse range of people must be included in creating new possible futures. More than just considering technologies and businesses, we need to think about the future based on what’s best for as broad a section of society as possible.


The creation of futures is a political act. Diversity is crucial for the co-creation of desirable futures. Without diverse input from many voices and points of view, we can recreate the systems we are used to. Many of our current systems are based on autocratic models. They benefit the powerful, who are rewarded by the current system. Without perspectives that do not represent the status quo, our existing biases and judgments will be re-created in any new futures we design.


Everything we design and create has unintended systemic impacts. Even projects with the most altruistic focuses will, at some point, uncover situations that are creating disadvantages or critical failures. Even with mapping the system for future problematic possibilities, unforeseeable events will always emerge. Ensuring that every design process leaves space for the unexpected allows freedom for dealing with emergencies.


It’s not a prediction. It’s not a singular future. It is ‘futures’ plural, and every projection is based on what is possible and desirable. The scenarios we create are always speculation that helps us prepare and create a new way of seeing and acting in the present to make that desirable future happen.

Applying Our Principles

Genevieve Bell, a futurist and cultural anthropologist, explains, “We need to recognise that the conversations of the future have a past, and we need to think about the socio-technological systems we build, not just the technology itself.”

In our last principle, we explain that all futures are speculation and act as a guiding light to change our actions today, so each day brings us closer to one of the most desired options. Genevieve Bell stated that every moment in the future also has a past. We need to think strategically about the actions we are taking today that will either move us toward or away from what is a desirable future.

Each of our four principles is born out of our practice of designing desirable futures. Throughout the years, we have learned that it is dangerous not to create futures with the people they will impact. Creating just and equitable futures for a broad range of society is impossible without putting people at the centre.

A future developed by looking at technology as the driving force will replicate the past if it does not value ethics and diversity. A future created by people who dominate the existing power will embed that power structure in any new future they create. If there is only one vision of what is possible, we limit ourselves, repeat the past and do not make room for anything new to emerge.

Design A Desirable Future

We only have to look back at the past two years to fully understand that things do not always go to plan. So having the ability to think in plurals futures and to create opportunities with a diverse range of people will provide us all with more options.

We will need to continue to pivot and shift expectations as our world changes. Designing desirable futures will provide us with hope and open up possibilities where we had not seen them before. This is not the gift for foresight, this is the gift of more ways of seeing. The more we collaborate and learn from each other, the more chances we have to work together and solve the big sticky problems of this world.

Download the next installment of our Design Futures Toolkit to learn about our process. Or reach out for more information on how futures design can work for your organisation.


Juliana Proserpio

Juliana Proserpio is an entrepreneur and educator. She is the Co-Founder and Chief Design Officer of ECHOS, an innovation lab and its business units: Echos – School of Design Thinking – a school that puts innovation in practice, and Echos – innovation projects. Over the last 10
years, Juliana has worked to develop an innovation ecosystem in Australia, Brazil, and recently in Portugal to foster the power of design for desirable futures.
She has more than 10.000 hours working closely with clients on facilitation design, leading a diverse range of projects in industries such as healthcare, finance, education, retail, new, technology and consumer goods.
Juliana speaks on the power of design to create desirable futures. She spoke at events such as the Global Innovation Summit in San Jose, California, TEDxMaua in Sao Paulo, Brazil, What Design Can Do and the Sydney Design Festival.

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