Embark on a journey of discovery at the Festival of Futures at Lancaster University

A trio of images showing some of the items on show at the exhibition including a lightclock, a wooden computer and shadowplay (a silhouette of a person and bird)
The Festival of Futures exhibition – designed for a public audience – will include an enticing showcase of more than 30 exhibits

From light pollution to e-waste and healthy ageing to biomaterials, the Festival of Futures at Lancaster University is all set to show how design research can respond to an array of local and global challenges.

The Festival of Futures is a public event hosted by Lancaster University from March 8 to 15 and will include an exciting exhibition which is open to all.

Organised by ImaginationLancaster – Lancaster University’s design-led research lab - and three other centres of design research excellence across the UK, the event is a must for those keen to see how current effective design can ring the changes for the future.

Participating organisations include The Centre for Print Research at University of the West of England, Bristol; The Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment at Newcastle University and Northumbria University; and Lab4Living at Sheffield Hallam University.

Each organisation was funded through UK Research and Innovation’s ground-breaking Expanding Excellence in England (E3) funding awarded in 2019.

Over the last four years these centres have applied their design expertise to work on local and global challenges.

The Festival of Futures exhibition – designed for a public audience – will include an enticing showcase of more than 30 exhibits from all four centres including a Cabinet of Curiosities, Sensing the Luminous Night and Man-made Gems.

Interactive exhibits such as Shadowplay will allow visitors to playfully interact with generative AI to create striking imagery. Kind Materials, meanwhile, explores sustainable alternatives to chemical dyeing and finishing, alongside research on the development and application of innovative 3D imaging technologies in the cultural heritage field.

The Festival of Futures also comprises two symposiums, both open to the public, which are all set to demonstrate howcollaborativedesign working with partners from industry, health, private and public sectors can provide a better, smarter tomorrow.

The symposium on March 8, organised by host ImaginationLancaster, includes case studies spanning e-waste and repair, material re-use in construction, light pollution in areas of outstanding natural beauty, an AI project with a Lancaster primary school and a Digital Good Network to ensure digital technologies benefit people and societies.

The second symposium on March 15, a joint venture by all four participating organisations, presents innovative approaches developed around the role of design to promote a healthy, connected, ageing population and what this could mean for the future home and built environment.

This event will also explore the use of design research to accelerate our journey towards net zero, envisioning designs that contribute to positive social and environmental impacts.

For ImaginationLancaster the Festival of Futures is the culmination of the £13.2 million Beyond Imagination Project funded by Research England and Lancaster University demonstrating how cutting-edge design research can contribute to a healthier and sustainable world.

Executive Director of ImaginationLancaster Professor Nick Dunn says: “We are delighted to be hosting this festival to demonstrate the transformational power of design and design research for the benefit of people, place, and planet.”

The Festival of Futures is open to designers, researchers and anyone interested in the application of design and design research to solve complex societal challenges. The event is in person only.

The full programme for the Festival and exhibition opening times can be viewed here where you can also register your free place at the events.

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