What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
With rendition switcher


Question: Where is design headed?

Antonelli: There are some big changes that are on the horizon for design and for the world.  And I think that rapid manufacturing . . . the technology of rapid manufacturing will make some of these changes become a reality.  Rapid manufacturing, just as a brief introduction for the public – is the way in which you can design an object on the computer and then send the digital file directly to the manufacturing machine.  So seamlessly, even at a distance of thousands and thousands of miles, you just send the file and the thing gets made.  You can understand the implication.  This is a quite young technology.  It’s been existing already for 25 years, but at the beginning you could only carve foam and make prototypes and models.  Now you can make a chair.  It takes seven days to print the chair, but in the future seven hours, then seven minutes.  But think about it.  First of all you’ll be able to be at home at your computer and go onto a web site of a particular brand.  The designer has designed the matrix of a chair.  You can adapt the chair a little bit depending on how much, you know . . .  You need to respect the limits of the brand and respect the structural soundness of the chair.  But let’s say you customize it the way you want and then you send the file to your corner Kinko’s.  Let’s say it’s Kinko’s.  And then you go down, or they deliver it if you want, and you get your chair printed in the next five minutes, half hour.  No tracking, no warehousing, no waste of materials.  And you’ll only . . .  You’ll only order what you need.  Now of course there will still be designers acting like artists that will let you use that particular file only once and then it gets thrown out.  So it’s a unique piece.  There will still be modulation of the originality and of the . . . and of the number of pieces.  But there will be no more difference between a prototype and a serial piece.  And there will be an enormous saving of energy through the world.  So you see designers will be designing families of objects, and not anymore singular objects if they want to.  They will be deciding matrixes and systems, and they will be teaching people how to use them.  And I really believe that this will happen.  It’s already happening, and there are already some designers that are particularly interested and they are thinking this way.  You know we just had an exhibition at MOMA that was called Digitally Mastered, and it was all objects that were generated directly by a computer – ranging from clothes, to graphics, to chairs.  In the future it will become even more realizable and even more important.


The Future of Design

Newsletter: Share: