Fusionist Asta Roseway’s bold vision for the future of design, tech – and just about everything else

Mar 7, 2017   |   Thomas Kohnstamm

Researcher and fusionist Asta Roseway is pictured in an illustrated landscape featuring stylized flowers, a mountain range and a starry night sky

FoodFutures, an exhibition addressing food production needs in the year 2050, melds the seemingly strange bedfellows of urban farming, machine learning, research engineering and design.

Its self-sustaining hydroponic and aquaponic farm modules use computer vision analysis to maximize efficient yield and crop health. The retro-futurist aesthetics nod to 2050 while remaining approachable and inspiring discussion about the challenges of feeding a world facing increasing climate change and urbanization.

“The project proves how a vision, guided by design, can bridge various technical and scientific disciplines to create solutions and showcase urgent issues like food security,” said Asta Roseway, principal research designer at Microsoft Research and co-founder of FoodFutures. “And the art infused throughout the project is what connects the technology back to the humanities in meaningful ways.”

Researcher and fusionist Asta Roseway wears a science fiction inspired helmet in this collage

In her Redmond, Washington, office stuffed with research white papers, mannequins in high-tech haute couture and a vintage Ms. Pac-Man mini-arcade, Roseway said, “We are entering an era of design-driven collaboration where the designer’s role will be to act as the ‘fusion’ between art, research, science and engineering.”

Roseway’s ability to think critically while collaborating across disciplines and combining their best aspects is not just the future of design careers. It will play a part in broader tech careers and, she believes, careers in general. She has coined this new role as “fusionism” and, whether the modest Roseway will admit it or not, she is one of Microsoft’s foremost fusionists.

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