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Phil Balagtas

Phil Balagtas

President & Founder
The Design Futures Initiative
San Francisco, CA, USA

Phil Balagtas has been a practicing visual & interaction designer since 2001 and has experience designing across a variety of devices and platforms within non-profit, retail, advertising, and enterprise software organizations. Most recently he served as an Experience Design Director at McKinsey Design working with a variety of industries to transform and enhance their digital businesses and strategies. He is also the founder of the Design Futures Initiative, a nonprofit organization in San Francisco, CA which exists to advance the education and advocacy of Futures Thinking (Speculative Design & Strategic Foresight). He leads a global community of meetups called "Speculative Futures" with over 60 chapters worldwide and also organizes a conference in the US and Europe called PRIMER. An educator and futurist, he brings together designers and futurists from all over the world to teach and share strategies for designing for the future and the ethical challenges around emerging technologies.

The design of policy and the policy of design


There are myriad policies that govern the products and services we use on a daily basis. While these are all designed for usage, the contracts we sign off to use them don’t necessarily include a rigorous and inclusive human-centered approach. Let’s investigate various guidelines we agree to and consider a more design-centric approach to policy making.

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Futures design thinking - How to use futures methods to craft inspiring tomorrows


In an increasingly uncertain and complex world, we are constantly challenged with the impact of social, cultural, environmental and political change, not to mention the ongoing threat of disease and non-inclusive systems and structures. As designers, we have a responsibility to design better futures, better policies, and inspiring tomorrows for future generations. After a decade of practice and investigation, Phil Balagtas, founder of the Design Futures Initiative, will share what he’s learned about implementing a futures mindset and practice across large organizations, how to make it practical, and how to use it to generate north stars to strategize toward. 

This workshop will delve into a set of tools and frameworks built on Strategic Foresight and Speculative Design that will allow designers to craft a perspective and interpretation of the future using trends, build possible worlds, and identify opportunities and threats with which we can design responses around. Learn where to find evidence and data to structure your arguments about the future, how to develop scenarios, and ultimately how to craft a speculative product or service intent with values, ethics, and policy questions we should be asking ourselves today so that we can reframe new agendas for tomorrow.

Key learnings:

  • What are Futures and how/when should i use them
  • Where do I find trends/data to build future worlds that i want to design in/around
  • What are scenarios and how do i use them to show possible directions the world may move toward
  • What is effective Speculative Design
  • How do i get started with brining Futures practice in my organization
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