Utopia vs. Dystopia.

In our inaugural season, we kicked off with a three-day festival from January 26–29, 2017 with “Utopia vs. Dystopia: Designing Our Imagined Futures.” Examining major cultural disruptions and scientific advances such as robotics, artificial intelligence, automation and new production technologies, this program asked whether designers will be the ones to tip the scales toward utopia or dystopia.


This season’s Utopia vs. Dystopia programming has featured talks from the following.

David Byrne

David Byrne cofounded Talking Heads and created the label Luaka Bop. He is the author of “How Music Works” (McSweeney's, 2012) and most recently recorded the album “Love This Giant” with St. Vincent, released by 4AD in 2012. He is the recipient of an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Grammy, three Drama Desk Awards, five Lucille Lortel Awards, an OBIE Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and two Theatre World Awards.

Alice Rawsthorn

Alice Rawsthorn writes about design for the New York Times and Frieze. Her latest book, "Hello World: Where Design Meets Life" explores design’s impact on our lives: past, present and future. She speaks on design at global events including the TED conference and the World Economic Forum’s annual meetings at Davos, Switzerland. Based in London, Alice was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to design and the arts.

Yves Béhar

Yves Béhar is a designer and entrepreneur who believes that integrated product, digital, and brand design is the cornerstone of any business. He is the founder and chief designer of Fuseproject, the Chief Creative Officer of Jawbone, and the co-founder of August, the producer of a next generation home entry system. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Musem of Modern Art and the Museum of Contemoprary Design and Applied Arts in Lausanne. Listed among Time magazine's "Top 25 Visionaries," he has been featured as Conde Nast's Designer of the Year, and is the recipient of a Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award.

John Maeda

John Maeda is the Global Head of Computational Design and Inclusion at Automattic. Previously he was a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), a world-leading venture capital firm in Silicon Valley, and a professor at the MIT Media Lab. John is an internationally recognized speaker and author, and the author of books including “The Laws of Simplicity,” “Creative Code” and “Redesigning Leadership.” He is a recipient of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award and the AIGA Medal.


Inaba Williams and MTWTF have produced “Utopia–Dystopia,” an exhibition highlighting the vital role design plays in a world reliant on technology. The multi-channel video installation presents a kaleidoscopic visions of our tech-centered existence. The spaces, products, identities, and experiences offered to visitors ask: “What possible futures should designers propose at a time when, to be human — and to be true to ourselves — is to be completely one with technology?”


A/D/O has partnered with visionary designers to create site-specific installations exploring the theme of Utopia Vs. Dystopia. In our first season, we will feature original work from Assemble, MOS, and Olin.

Assemble's “A Factory as it Might Be” is featured on The Creators Project's latest episode of “The Process.” Watch it here.



A/D/O's first designer-in-residence is Stephen Burks, of Stephen Burks Man Made. Burks and his team will reside in A/D/O this spring to work, prototype furniture and give a series of talks and lectures on design and the creative process.

For over a decade, Burks has dedicated his work to building a bridge between authentic craft traditions, manufacturing, and contemporary design. Since 2005, Burks has consulted with non-profits around the world including Aid to Artisans, the Clinton Global Initiative and the Nature Conservancy, uniting the artisan, the designer and global brands in a triangle of immersive development. His New York–based studio, Stephen Burks Man Made, seeks to bring the hand to industry and extend craft traditions into the future. Stephen Burks was the recipient of the 2015 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Product Design.