Max Stockdale
7 min readDec 9, 2022

Futures Gifts

process documentation

Brief: Create a gift for your partner that will be based in 2052. This gift should interesting, innovative, and emotionally charged to support your partner’s ideal vision of 2052. (Reflecting their values, world-views, and opinions)

By: Max Stockdale

Interview with Christy Zo:


Step 1: Values and World-views

Especially in light of recent political events, we have all been thinking a lot about the future of the country and the world.

How would you describe your values and worldview? When all is said and done, what do you care most about?

You may like to provide examples from experiences that you have had to clarify what is most important, resonant or significant to you.

In light of all this, how do you hope the world looks twenty years from now? Pick a single word or short phrase that distills the kind of future you hope for at the scale of your country in 2052.

Step 2: Scenarios

In your preferred version of 2052, what kinds of things are going on? What community/communities do you consider essential to your life in 2052? Articulated (rapid fire) at least 10 facets of your preferred, optimistic future in which things are really working out!

Step 3: Systems

In your preferred version of 2052 what is happening in your country in relation to each of the following areas:

• Social

• Technological

• Environmental

• Economic

• Political

Say as much as you can about each, but any sequence is good.

Here you may be moving into consideration of areas that you haven’t thought too much about before — this is fine.

Step 4: The Tip of the Iceberg

If this world really came to pass, what kinds of things would be happening that tell us about it?

Come up with some headlines from 2052 (at least three) that really get to the heart of the matter.

What might a typical day look like in the community where you live in this preferred future? What would be most striking about it for a visitor from 2052?

Step 5: Context

In the next ten days or so, I (the interviewer) will be creating a future encounter for you, my futuree!

Where and how might I be able to reach you? Tell me about whatever parts of your life (i.e. physical locations, ways to reach you) that you are willing to give permission for me to use as possible sites of engagement.

You can think aloud freely, and I will keep a record on this page of the places/contexts that you agree to let me consider (and you can change your mind about what is included any time up to the end of class).

For example: May I send you something in the mail? Drop something off at your house, or workplace? Leave something at your desk on campus, or in a mailbox? Install something or stage an intervention at your bus stop? If it is the best angle of approach, all things considered, an electronic/online encounter might also be possible.

I will only do something that you give me general permission to do, and within any additional boundaries or concerns that you share today.

Based on these interview questions:


Step 6: Reflect on your Interviewees described future

What kind of wider world or scenario does your partner seem to be considering? (e.g., growth, collapse, transform, discipline)

What identities, cultures, or aspects of life did your partner seem to show as their priority in imagining their ideal 2052? (e.g., familial, cultural, spiritual, professional, national)

What aspects seemed to be put aside or left out? (These two questions may help you identify aspects of the scenario that you want to focus on or distill via your future encounter)

What values did they articulate that seems to you to be central? If you were describing their future to a third party, what might you say was most distinctive about it?

Any other reflections, hunches or insights to share? You are looking for an aspect of their future that is core for them, and also that connects with you.


Step 7: Generate ideas for future artifacts/encounters

What things, or kinds of things, from the future could you make to deepen your partner’s future? Consider in particular aspects of that future that they maybe have not had a chance to think about as much, or that for any reason could be especially revelatory, meaningful, special or delightful to find brought to life.

The menu of contexts of encounter that you discussed with your futuree in interview can also be used to generate ideas here.

You are invited and advised to think expansively at this stage! Give yourself options by brainstorming widely, even into clearly implausible ideas. If you could bring any moment or aspect of the world to life from within their future, what would it be? At this stage thinking broadly, so as to entertain even idealized or logistically impossible approaches, could lead you to awesome yet doable project concepts that you might not otherwise have thought of.


Step 8: Think through and evaluate candidates

Include here in your thought process the logistical issues, any risks to consider, incl. ethical dealbreakers, which are on you to evaluate — you are making an encounter with the future, but present-day laws and ethics still apply in addition to your futuree’s stated parameters.

Remember, although you will have received (general) consent from your futuree to reach them in the way that you ultimately do, discretion/surprise is an important element — you are creating a special artifact/experience/encounter for an audience of one (or, if you prefer, client). Think of it like giving a gift — both the spirit of the thing, and to some extent the protocol as well: you generally don’t tell someone in advance what is inside a gift package, or even necessarily when/where they will meet it, if it’s meant to be a surprise!

Step 9: Outline your plan here

Draft your planned artifact/encounter here, including the outline rationale and aim (i.e. what effect you are hoping it will have, and the connection between what you propose to do, on the one hand, and what you understood from your interview with them, on the other)

Step 10: Do the thing

Describe what you did and how it went (as far as you could tell).

Any lessons or further thoughts at this stage — before you hear from your futuree?

If you happen to have arranged documentation of your futuree’s experience/encounter as part of your planning, you must ensure afterwards that you have their permission to keep and/or share it.


At the earliest opportunity after you have the future encounter that has been arranged for you, write about it in this section, like a diary entry. In other words: Record here whatever others may need to know that helps them understand your experience and the impact it had (or didn’t have) on you. As before, tactful but honest is best: being insensitively critical, or more likely in this case, pretending to be more impressed or affected than you were — even just to be nice — is not very helpful to the learning experience.

2. Also add in this section, at a minimum, the best available images of the artifact/encounter with context. Short video is an acceptable addition.

1. What did you learn from this project and from the artifact feedback that you received?

2. How would you evaluate your own artifact?


After completing this project, I realized the importance of considering perspectives and planning more for the future. Considering the impact of products and how they will be used 30 years from, is essential to create more lasting design.

During these interviews with Christy, I learned more about her values, but I also learned more about myself. It’s easy to be cynical about the future and what it may entail, but I began thinking more about my life and the changes I need to make to live a life more geared towards my values. I used the methods and tools I learned in this class to craft this 2052 artifact. I wanted this gift to reflect Christy’s ideal future while also giving her something to remind of mental health impact. Overall, this project made me consider the deeper impact of thoughtful design.

Artifact Sketch + ideation

Final Images:

hand-written reminders