IAAC - Institute for advanced architecture of Catalonia - Barcelona

Academic Structure

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The Master in Design for Emergent Futures (MDEF) is organised in three terms (Oct-Dec, Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun), each including Design Studios, a Research Trip, complementary Seminars and related events.

The Design Studios are the main part of the programme: they focus on real world experimentation and socio-technical development. During the year, students will be developing technical, aesthetic and conceptual skills by working on real-life scenarios. Seminar sessions are designed to delve into specific domains of knowledge and are delivered by relevant experts, including both practitioners and scholars. Throughout the academic year, international experts in the field of design and emergent technologies will be contributing to the programme as guest lecturers.

In this master we will not teach students a methodology, neither a set of golden rules to be applied in given assignments. Instead, we introduce the MDEF as a journey and exploration on how projects can be manifestos to introduce new outputs.

We would like to support students in developing their identity and vision, and encourage them to develop their unique set of skills, knowledge and attitude in order to navigate the uncertainty while designing possible futures. The Master in Design for Emergent Futures is a journey in time and multiple dimensions, which when intersected open a new point of view, understanding and translating ideas into projects. These dimensions are:

Exploration: We will expose the students to a set of technologies that have the capacity to disrupt our present understanding of society, industry and the economy.

Reflection: We will support the students in developing their identity and a set of skills, knowledge and attitude as designers of possible futures.

Instrumentation: We will provide a set of skills and tools that will help to translate ideas into prototypes, and prototypes into products, which can be tested and iterated throughout the design process.

Application: We will encourage students to create a culture of making, where prototyping acts as a generator of knowledge, and interventions become message carriers of a future that is about to arrive.

The Master in Design for Emergent Futures is connected with the Exploring Emergent Futures platform at the Royal College of Art, London, which has been developed by James Tooze and Tomas Diez from 2015. And is now led by James and Elizabeth Corbin. 

MDEF - First Year

September – December: Introductory courses and philosophical/ theoretical background.

Research studio. Establishing an area of interest, analysis and research. Definition of topic and direction of the final project.

Introduction to hybrid profiles in Design. A day in the life of hybrid designers from Barcelona. Building knowledge, skills and attitude as a designer

Introduction to digital fabrication, distributed manufacturing and Industry 4.0

Data and information in the digital age. Communications, computation, change theory

January – March: Design for Emergent Futures Studio 2: Making possible future speculations.

Design Studio: Project oriented. Understand, develop and propose. Applied research and instrumentations.

Design approaches: Emergent Design trends, create your design identity and vision.

Fab Academy (how to make almost anything): principles and practices, project management, computer-aided design, computer-controlled cutting, electronics production, 3D scanning and printing, electronics design, computer-controlled machining, embedded programming, mechanical design, output devices, machine design.

Emergent technologies: How Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology, Digital Fabrication, Robotics are changing everything?

  • March: Mid term review

April – June: Design for Emergent Futures Studio 3: Making possible future speculations.

Design Studio: Project oriented. Interventions in the reality. Applied research

Materialising possible speculations: Roles of prototyping, from demos to research products.

Fab Academy (how to make almost anything): molding and casting, input devices, composites, networking and communications, interface and application programming, applications and implications, invention, intellectual property, and income.

Future business models: Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, open source business models, cryptocurrencies and cryptomarkets.

  • June: Project development and Final Presentation 

MDEF - Second Year (TBA)

Research, development and implementation of projects during one year. Projects are aimed to have multiple exits, they could be considered as an incubation (business), research (education) or development (social) process to increase the impact of interventions in the real world.

*To Be Announced.

Master Diploma issued by:

Collaborator of IAAC


EDITION: 1st edition

DEGREE: Master in Design for Emergent Futures

DIRECTORS: Tomás Díez, Oscar Tomico


DURATION: 9 months from October 2019 to June 2020 – Full Time



Non EU 16.000 €

EU 12.800 € 

ADMISSION: Bachelor or higher degree in Industrial Design, Product Design, Urban Design, Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Computer Science, Engineering (Mechanical, Chemical, Product, Material), Sociology, Anthropology, Economy, and other related professions.