Aluminum has been around for thousands of years, but until fairly recently, it was very expensive and a poor building material. The discovery of cheaper manufacturing processes and strong aluminum alloys that were lighter than steel completely changed entire industries in the early 20th century.
Yesterday’s graphic designers are today’s UX designers. Will tomorrow’s UX designers be avatar programmers, fusionists, and artificial organ designers? Yes, according to the illustrious roster of design leaders we spoke with here.
Design has matured from a largely stylistic endeavor to a field tasked with solving thorny technological and social problems, an evolution that will accelerate as companies enlist designers for increasingly complex opportunities, from self-driving cars to human biology. “Over the next five years, design as a profession will continue to evolve into a hybrid industry that is considered as much technical as it is creative,” says Dave Miller, a recruiter at the design consultancy Artefact. “A new wave of designers formally educated in human-centered design—taught to weave together research, interaction, visual and code to solve incredibly gnarly 21st-century problems—will move into leadership positions. They will push the industry to new heights of sophistication.”
Here are 18 of the most important design jobs of the future, as identified by the men and women who will no doubt do much of the hiring. Most looked three to five years out, but some peered farther into the future (see: organ designer).
Kim Markel doesn’t have the typical CV you’d expect from an artist and furniture-maker. Before moving back to the Hudson Valley to work at Polich Tallix, one of the largest fine art foundries in the U.S., Markel logged four years working in environmental and public policy in D.C., Baltimore, and Rhode Island. “I liked working in policy,” says the 31-year-old Markel, who studied the subject at Carnegie Mellon. “But I thought I would love to be in a world where things are made and there is art and design around.”
So she took a job at the foundry, where she got a crash course in fabricating large-scale fine art pieces from the likes of Jeff Koons, Frank Stella, and Matthew Barney. Before long, she moved to her own studio in Beacon, New York and started making furniture and art objects that drew from both of her past work experiences. Her Glowcollection, which she debuted last weekend at the annual Architectural Digest Design Show, is a series of whimsical, candy-colored chairs, tables, vases, and mirrors made from recycled plastic.
Markel says the idea for the collection arose from a tension she felt between wanting to make something beautiful and new, but not wanting to contribute to the planet’s waste.
Rare earth metals, hard-to-find materials, with unfamiliar names such as lanthanum, neodymium and europium, are used in wind and solar energy projects, but dwindling supplies could hinder a roll-out of low carbon technologies and slow China’s shift away from coal power. These compounds, which are highly toxic when mined and processed, also take a heavy environmental toll on soil and water, posing a conundrum for policymakers in China, the world’s biggest producer and consumer of rare earths.
Whether its human or adhesive behavior, tackiness comes in varying degrees. Tapes are solids but remain tacky—gradually building full bond strength. Liquid adhesives, however, generally need to dry or cure. Some, like hot melts, cool quickly, becoming dry and tack-free relatively fast. Others, such as epoxies need a chemical reaction to form a solid bond, so they may take longer to lose their tackiness. Depending on the product, it could be minutes or hours before the adhesive finishes its reaction.