Re-imagining the mobility of the future

Ars Electronica Futurelab x BMW x SUPERSENSE 

The project Re-imagining the mobility of the future is a collaborative project between BMW Group Design, SUPERSENSE and the Ars Electronica Futurelab, supported by sociologist Bernhard Böhm. It was conducted as a workshop format under the title “Experience Lab Project” as part of the Ars Electronica Festival 2022 to encourage visitors to think about what future mobility could mean. . The results of the workshop were summarized in this research report written by Cyntha Wieringa and Bernhard Böhm.

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The project was initiated by an interest of BMW Group Design in the coexistence of analogue and digital technologies. Against the background of an increasing digitalization of car interiors, BMW Group Design began to question this development, and wanted to research what potential analogue approaches still have for car design. With this question they commissioned Florian ‘Doc’ Kaps, founder of the analogue concept store and manufactory SUPERSENSE, to redesign a BMW i3 Urban Suite car. 

Aiming to open a public discussion on the future of car design, BMW and Doc approached Ars Electronica. With its position on the intersection of art, technology and society, the Ars Electronica Festival 2022 was identified as the perfect setting to host such a discussion and exhibit the re-designed car. Together with members of the Ars Electronica Futurelab and sociologist Bernhard Böhm, a workshop format was then developed that encouraged visitors to think about the wider theme of ‘mobility of the future’. 

Altogether four workshops were organized with a total of 53 participants from a wide variety of nationalities, ages, and professional backgrounds. During the workshops, participants were asked to give their opinion on the future of cars, the future of individual mobility, the role of digital and analogue technologies in mobility, and potential open questions they had themselves with regards to future mobility.

Questioning the image of the car of the 20th century

The discussion during the workshops touched upon a wide variety of topics such as the potential different functionalities of future cars, the further development of public transport versus the privatization of mobility, car sharing, the (dis)advantages of digital/analogue technologies, and the dangers of self-driving cars to name a few. In the more creative realm, participants were asked to design their own ideal future mode of transportation. Many science-fiction scenarios were described such as teleportation devices, drones, robot suits, and even flying eggs. 

From the discussions it was clear that participants were questioning the image of the car that was dominant throughout most of the 20th century: that cars are the ultimate symbol of freedom that allow you to go wherever you want, whenever you want. When talking about future mobility, participants were describing the importance of enjoying different types of freedom such as choosing between different types of transport or sharing mobility with others. Furthermore, they observed that continuing down certain paths of digitization heavily influences the type of future mobility that will be shaped. In this aspect, many seemed to question the self-driving future.  

Overall, the open discussion generated many different, and sometimes contradicting, visions of future mobility. In terms of cars design this means that we need people who can synthesize perspectives, create new visions and respond to societal changes. Probably more than ever, this means dealing with different options and contradicting demands that arise in our complex societies.

Read more about the Mobility of the Future Workshop on the Ars Electronica Blog:


Ars Electronica Futurelab: Cyntha Wieringa, Horst Hörtner, Peter Freudling, Anna Oelsch 
Social Spheres: Bernhard Böhm 
BMW Group Design: Jessica Covi, Werner Haumayr, Katrin Mechler, Julia Obermeier, Christiane Pyka, Stephanie Schild, Hannes Ziesler 
SUPERSENSE: Florian ‘Doc’ Kaps

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