Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

“I Have Seen the Future”: Designer as Showman

Late last week I had the pleasure of attending the tenth biennial Flair Symposium at the Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin. The theme this year was “Visions of the Future,” in conjunction with the exhibition “I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America,” curated by Donald Albrecht. One of the pleasures of the symposium, also one of the pleasures of Geddes’s career, was its diversity. How many ways can you talk about the future? The first panel of the day featured Jen Gunnels, the theater critic for the New York Review of Science Fiction, John Crowley, a science fiction writer, and the director of the University of Houston’s Future Studies program, Peter Bishop. Bishop had my quotable quote of the symposium: “The most important thing in predicting the future is not to get it right, but to present a set of plausible futures. Looking for the right future is a futile exercise. Thinking about the future is like jogging – you end up where you started but in better condition.”