Designer, entrepreneur, TED Fellow, futurescaper: Anab Jain wears many hats, and brings them all together at her multidisciplinary design studio, Superflux. Both a consultancy and a lab, Superflux operates in the realm of emerging technologies—drones, The Internet of Things, AI—to consider their social, cultural, and business implications. Through Superflux, Jain is able to translate future uncertainty into present-day choices. And in her talks, she shows us that emotionally connecting to future consequences has the power to influence extraordinary change.
We live in extraordinary times, concurrently breathtaking and deeply precarious. As co-founder of the vanguard laboratory, design, and film studio Superflux, Anab Jain parses uncertainties around our shared futures. From climate change and growing inequality, to the emergence of artificial intelligence and the future of work, Jain and her team of designers, researchers, and technologists explore the biggest challenges of our times—and their potential and unintended consequences.
Superflux’s past and current projects include Better Care, a film that reimagines the social care system in a near-technological future; Mitigation of Shock, a design experiment in living with climate change-induced food insecurity; and Trigger Warning, a fast-paced journey through a city of memes that embodies our escalating culture clash in the digital age. These tangible and provocative experiences not only transport people into possible futures—by emotionally connecting to future consequences, they also influence behavior and decision-making in the present. To date, Superflux has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world, including Microsoft Research, Sony, and Samsung, as well as partnered with organizations such as the Government of the United Arab Emirates, Cabinet Office UK, United Nations Development Program, and Forum for the Future.
Jain is also Professor of Design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, where she is currently curating the “How Will We Work” show for the Vienna Biennale, and a TED Fellow. Her work has won awards at UNESCO, Apple Inc., Geneva Human Rights Film Festival, Innovate UK, and exhibited at MoMA New York, V&A London, National Museum of China, Vitra Design Museum and Tate Modern.
Superflux The Future of Design Practice
The business has two parts: the consultancy is client-facing, offering bespoke services, while the lab is a research space where new ideas are developed and tested. Though these two parts function independently, Jain and her team have come to rely on their contrasting rhythms for team sanity, the ‘sweet spot’ of unexpected synergies, and a steady stream of new ideas and provocations. Superflux is particularly interested in the ways emerging technologies interface with the environment and everyday life. Ultimately, Jain and her colleagues strive to embed these explorations in the here-and-now—using rapid prototyping and media sketches to turn them into stimulating concepts, experiences, products and services.
In this talk, Jain reveals the benefits and unexpected outcomes of this new business model, and how it can—and should—be applied elsewhere in the business world. With proven experience in design, strategy and foresight, Superflux is in a unique position to explore the implications of these new interactions—and Jain is in an even more rare, important, and timely position to discuss their findings and observations. As the eyes and ears of this futuristic company, Jain’s insights are essential for any business hoping to move more concretely, and creatively, into the twenty-first century.