Futures Garden – creating fictional artifacts through speculative design

Futures Garden aims at creating inspiring alternative future scenarios through the use of fictional future artifacts that invite to reflection and debate. The pilot project coordinated by Institutul de Prospectiva was carried out in 2024 and addressed two themes:

“Dealing with future selves” explores new ways of being, individually and collectively, examines new practices and technologies that enhance self-reflection and sharing of emotions, which help shape our choices in life and nurture a renewed sense of togetherness.

“Extending human perception to new scales” explores the richness of non-human intelligences, expanding our attention and appreciation for their unique sensory worlds, their “umwelt” – what they “feel” and how they “think”. In doing so it departs from the human-centric worldview towards a deeper understanding and celebration of life on Earth.

The project unfolded along several phases, depicted in the figure below and then further described:

  • Horizon scanning:

Identifying and curating cutting-edge concepts, theories, practices and technologies that may reshape our notion of futures selves and of extended human perception, by diving into literature from various fields (e.g. psychology, biology, epigenetics, biotechnology, neuroscience, cultural theory, spirituality). These content items were then used as a selection or in combination, depending on the concept design ideas in the speculative design phase.
The full results of the horizon scanning are available in the report Foresight literature review brief

  • Speculative Design:

Transforming selected briefs, together with design agencies NORMALS and Modem, into thought-provoking future artifacts in the form of short movies – Inwards and Symbiotic – which render the imagined future scenarios more tangible, immersive and engaging.

The full movies will become available for the wider public in June 2024.
The teasers below give a glimpse into this creative work:
Inwards teaser: https://vimeo.com/887304151
Symbiotic teaser: https://vimeo.com/887303461

  • Citizen and Policy Engagement:

Reflecting on the various societal implications of the speculative scenarios, gathering diverse perspectives and insights from EU citizens and policymakers. This phase involved a series of eight workshops, conducted between late November and early December 2023.

  • Sharing with the wider public:

Presenting on dedicated website futuresgarden.eu the project journey and outcomes, so that audiences from all around Europe and the world can engage with this inspiring work

The final report of the project showcases the work carried out in Futures Garden, describing each step and associated outcomes.


Futures Garden initiated by the EU Policy Lab
Commissioned by the DG for Research & Innovation through the Foresight on Demand framework contract
Supported by the European Commission

Austrian Institute of Technology
Fraunhofer ISI
Institutul de Prospectiva (Lead of pilot project)

Eye of Europe sets sail

November 2023 saw the official launch of the EU-funded project Eye of Europe – The research and innovation foresight community. For the next three years, this project will nurture the European R&I foresight community, bringing together practitioners, experts, policymakers and foresight enthusiasts alike.

Leveraging the experience of 18 partners across Europe coming from all walks of foresight expertise and practice, the project will integrate mutual learning and sharing of practices among foresight practitioners and R&I policy-makers, mobilise diverse stakeholders in joint pilot activities, and engage an active, broad audience in deliberating and shaping future imaginaries.

Eye of Europe will continue the work undertaken by its predecessor, ‘FOD European R&I Foresight and public engagement for Horizon Europe’. More specifically, the online platform futures4europe launched in early 2023 will carry on its function as the heart of the foresight community, undergoing further upgrades towards mapping organisations and experts and sharing foresight results and capabilities, as well as an amplifier for current foresight activities and events.

Read more about the project.