Meet the Faculty

Interview with Pomme van Hoof

“I think the future belongs to the people who assume responsibility for what they are creating, who focus on bringing ideas into the world that are ethical, valuable and respectful towards future generations.”

Pomme Van Hoof has a long and rich history with SSES. She started off as a master’s student at the Experience Design program at Konstfack in 2011, later being selected to our Hong Kong Bootcamp to explore new fields of design. In 2013, she went to Ahmedabad, India, for another Bootcamp on the Future of Aging, where she met students from different universities, who ended up becoming her best friends. Later that same year, she was selected to participate in our newly started White Label program, which took her to Ghana to lead a Design Thinking workshop for an interdisciplinary group of scientists from all over the world. Back in Stockholm, she was asked to co-lead the Trendspotting and Future Thinking with Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir, then assuming the role of Course Director in 2015. Before joining SSES, Pomme graduated with a BSc in Design from Design Academy Eindhoven and worked in the Philips Design Probes department, exploring future scenarios through speculative design.

Name: Pomme van Hoof
Title: Course Director for Konstfack
SSES Course: Trendspotting and Future Thinking
SSES Workshop: Making Futures

What can you tell us about the “Making Futures” Workshop?
It’s basically the Trendspotting course in a nutshell but taught in a two-day workshop rather than over the course of 6 weeks. The methodology is very similar to the course, and to approach I used when designing the Future of Life Bootcamp in April last year.

What does it mean to “Make Futures”?
One misconception when it comes to Future Thinking or Speculative Design, is that people think it’s about predicting the future, when really, it’s about envisioning different futures based on signals of change we see today and making them tangible, so we can get a better understanding whether this is a future we would want to make happen or not. The future is not something fixed, or out there for us to discover, but rather something that we all influence through the choices we make. In the workshop, I won’t be giving you any ready-made answers, but instead provide you with tools that you can apply to create scenarios, materialize futures in practical terms, explore system effects and talk about the possible consequences of our actions.

Why is Future Thinking important?
Because it invites people to think together and explore alternative ways of doing things. It gives people the ability to experience different realities, adopt a “what-if” mentality and become aware of how we can live differently today. By materializing thoughts through design, we can take something from our imagination into the world and thereby allow more people to participate in the conversation. Dialogue is key in this field, and I always make sure that students who present their ideas ask questions to the audience, rather than asking the audience for questions. I believe it’s the responsibility of a designer to encourage people to think critically, question the taken-for-granted and engage in civic dialogue.

How is design connected to entrepreneurship?
In order to thrive as a designer as well as an entrepreneur, you must be able to handle uncertainty, take initiative, question things, shape your own future and create something that the world values. Of course, there are entrepreneurs and designers who create things out of a desire to merely make money, but I think the future belong to the people who assume responsibility for what they are creating, who focus on bringing ideas into the world that are ethical, valuable and respectful towards future generations. It’s about being aware of “the big here and the long now”.

How would you describe an entrepreneurial mindset?
For me, it’s about taking initiative, questioning things, making connections, being curious and having the courage to explore the unknown.

Why is interdisciplinarity and diversity important in education?
It’s only when you interact with people who are educated differently that you, that you become aware of how you are educated yourself. Often, we assume that our position is the only right one and remain oblivious to other perspectives. They only become visible to us when we meet, and they clash. It’s always refreshing for me to see groups of students come together from different disciplines and cultures, and experience first-hand how perspectives shift, and minds expand. But, diversity isn’t a magic formula. The success of a group depends on the energy and personalities of the people inside it, and whether they have created a common understanding of how to work, argue, create and celebrate together.

What do you most look forward to with the course?
To meet the students and see what kind of scenarios they come up with. They are always different, depending on what the students are interested in and what’s happening in the world. I really enjoy seeing what kind of discussions that are triggered by their work, and where they lead. The conversations are always what I remember most.