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RARARA_LALALAB interview #1 with Reon Brand

In this broadcast by RaRaRadio, Olga Mink, Director at Baltan Laboratories, interviews Reon Brand, Senior Director Foresight and Socio-cultural trends at Philips Design. Topic of the dialogue is Brands research and publications on co-emerging futures: four distinct, yet intertwined (and not entirely compatible) potential futures our society could be facing. Extracted from historical facts, present observations and future trends. This article on the Baltan website could provide valuable additional background before or after listening to the broadcast

Listen to the broadcast on Mixcloud

Reon Brand and Olga Mink in the RaRaRadio studio
5:30 – end of intro music | intro by Olga Mink


7:15 – Welcome Reon Brand and insight in his inspiration


9:45 – The fundamentals: rethinking value – an historical perspective

“You cannot look at the future without having a sense of where things are coming from. When I was working at Philips Design, we were interested in waves of economic value creation that are changing the world. And having a value-creation dialogue on what will be valued by people in the future.”

In this section, Brand takes us through the evolution from the industrial value creation paradigm all the way to the experience economy and the transformation paradigm that is now emerging.

20:45 – Book co-emerging futures as next step into that transformation paradigm

“Big difference is that when we started on this paper in 2010, we came purely from a socio-economic viewpoint and were thinking about value creation for companies. Nowadays, with natural ecosystems starting to collapse, and lives of people threatened, I realized we cannot come from a socio-economic perspective alone. We have to look at a much more holistic picture of what is really happening. So I built on the paper about transformation paradigm, but took much more things into perspective. “

Brand talks about the fundamentals and starting points for his publication on co-emergent futures and how they are framed in the global context we are currently faced with.

23:40 – Are Humans part of nature, above nature…?

“We have to recognize that we are really threatening nature and in the process also our own existence. Started with Greek philosophy which believed that reason and logic are the highest treats we can aspire to. This elevated Human nature. Christianity has increased this. Men is shaped according to God. Goes all the way down to notion “ownership” we have today. We don’t “borrow” from nature, for example, we “own” land.”

The relationship between Humans and nature is an important element in Brands theories, as he explains in this section of the broadcast.

29:00 – Musical break


32:00 – Model with 4 distinct futures

In this part of the broadcast, Brand dives into the essentials of his publication and walks us through three out of four of his co-emerging futures and the powers and driving forces behind them. Making references to well-known thought-leadership examples as the book Homo Deus (by Y. Harari) and the concept of Singularity (by R. Kurzweil). At the end also touching upon the fundamentals of quantum mechanics and its potential relation with consciousness.

46:00 – Musical break


49:45 – Final co-emerging future scenario – Gaia

“Not saying we should not have sustainable practices. But the challenge is that ecosystems are collapsing right now and even if everyone starts now, nature will still collapse. So we need to reverse our footprint of the past 100 years. We have to regenerate and repair. That’s where Gaia comes in.
Sustainability still has utilitarian mindset. But still: optimize earth for our own benefit. In Gaia, we see the earth as a host and we are the guest. As just one of the species on earth. And we cannot take decisions without taking into account other species. Raises a lot of questions. Like for example, who can speak for and represent other species.”

Brand explains about his fourth potential future and some of the essentials behind it. Like how to transform the basics of our thinking and acting from improving the standard of living to improving the quality of life.

56:30 – COVID and wrap-up

“As tragic as it is, it has stopped the wheel and we even got kicked off. It’s now up to us. Are we going to jump back on and run like a hamster, or think what we want to do. There are good indications that things may start to transform. And in some contexts we will even be forced to.”

To wrap up the session, Brand talks about the opportunities COVID brings to initiate and accelerate change.

Reon Brand is Design Principal in Future Studies and Innovation in Philips. He is a regular key-note speaker at international conferences. His research provides inspiration and guidance for initiatives in future probing, innovation and value creation.

He co-authored a paper ‘Rethinking value in a changing landscape’ that explores different socio-economic paradigms. He recently published a futures study paper called ‘Co-Emerging Futures: A model for reflecting on streams of future change’

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