I am Pascal Wicht, a strategic designer specializing in tackling complex and ill-defined problems. I am an expert in upstream explorations, discovery research and listening to systems. I am skilled in future-oriented and criticaldesign, harnessing weak signals of change. Advocating for active stakeholder inclusion, I am exploring, prototyping, and co-creating sustainable solutions.
Navigating the Anthropocene era
Amidst the seismic shifts of an Anthropocene era, our reality is rife with persisting and multiplying problems. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re grappling with a world where our shared collective futures have collapsed. The realities of climate change and biodiversity loss have moved from abstract fears about a distant future to tangible experiences in the present. As we face these climate disaster realities and mass extinction, as an innovator and explorer, I am called not just to react today but to imagine and shape a preferable future for the next generations.
Leveraging systems thinking
My strategic design approach is rooted in critical systems thinking. Because simple, step-by-step and linear thinking only gives us a tiny portion of the picture, my strength is understanding how everything fits together. I work to uncover hidden links and figure out how different parts of a problem are connected.
Harnessing weak signals
Applying principles from strategic foresight, I’ve cultivated an aptitude for identifying weak signals and conducting horizon scanning. This enables me to anticipate emerging shifts in trends. I propose proactive and strategic interventions considering the context and future implications, not just the present conditions. These interventions are crafted with a long-term perspective, aligning with future readiness and resilience principles.
Understanding the profound relationship between stakeholders and the systems they are a part of, I follow an ethical design principle of actively engaging them in the sense-making and design process. Given people’s unique contextual intelligence due to their direct interaction with issues, their involvement helps shape interventions that are truly adaptive, empathetic and responsive to their conditions.
Prototyping is not just a process—it’s a philosophy. It’s not about producing finalized solutions; instead, it’s about co-creating hypotheses that can continually be shaped and refined. This approach invites those deeply engaged in the challenge space to be part of the creation, helping us construct tangible design tracks together. Each track is a learning opportunity, offering immediate and invaluable insights that allow us to adapt and modify our understanding in real-time.
Facilitating transformative journeys
At the core of my practice lies the orientation principle – navigating and engaging with the world in a profoundly attuned and thoughtful way. This orientation necessitates a willingness to uncover, understand and confront the deep-seated roots of problems rather than merely addressing their superficial symptoms.
Moving beyond surface-level and symptom-oriented design methods, my work delves into the systems of root causes. Rather than applying quick, technical fixes to visible issues, I engage with structural-level design methods that are system-oriented. These methods involve deeply exploring the social, economic, political and cultural systems that give rise to and perpetuate problems.
At the most profound level, my practice adopts meta-level, paradigm-oriented design methods. These approaches challenge and question the fundamental beliefs, values and paradigms that shape our systems and structures. By reframing the problem space, challenging prevailing assumptions and exploring new ways of perceiving and acting, I invite a radical shift in mindset and behavior, leading to transformative change. This level of design is not about minor adjustments to the existing system but about reimagining and transforming it completely.
My work towards preferable futures is driven by principles of cooperation, mutualism, economic democracy, sustainability and degrowth. Central to this mission is cultivating a sense of community and shared responsibility, encouraging equitable decision-making in economic systems and prioritizing environmental sustainability and social justice over relentless growth. Informed by a critical awareness of the historical and contemporary North-South injustices, I aim to foster more balanced, reciprocal relationships that respect the Global South’s rights, cultures and aspirations.
About this web site
With this site, I’m opening up a space to share my experiences, perspectives and explorations. Here’s the overall scope of what I am building here.
- Weaving Critical Materialist Thinking with Design Practice: I stand by the idea that the bridge between design and critical theory must constantly evolve and collaboratively grow. This philosophy is echoed throughout this site. It all kicked off as a method to tackle the challenging issues I’ve observed in design practice, and now, it’s morphed into a dynamic platform where I try to collect some key concepts to orientate action and learning.
- Open-Sourcing My Consultancy’s Model: A big chunk of the 2023 focus has been put into pulling back the drapes on the inner workings of my consultancy. Handling client expectations can get tricky, especially when they’re deeply entangled in the pillars of capitalism, neurocapitalism, conservative thinking and complexity blindness. This space serves as a small platform where I will try to open source my consultancy’s core model, giving you a behind-the-scenes tour, or how to sell run and deliver discovery research interventions.
- Speculative and Critical Exploration into Alternative Futures: I am starting to enjoy more side projects and personal explorations. I’m playing in the space between Chat GPT and MidJourney. I use Chat GPT as a research and generative tool. It has been mind blowing for now and I look to share more how to produce speculative and critical design experiments using AI.
So, picture this site as a slow-motion blog-as-a-toolbox, a playground for building an open system and an open invitation to join the discussion. Leave me a feedback, get in touch!
I plan to keep this open and free. All work here is published under a Free Culture Attribution 4.0 International Creative Commons Licence (CC BY 4.0). Genius steals.
All field Photography, Poster Works, Dektat Archives and Logos archives are copyrights of Pascal Wicht or their respective owners in the case of commissioned work for clients.