Multi-Disciplinary Artist & Futures Designer


Designing Future Spaces of Belonging

Originally published on AR / VR Journey magazine

January 2019, Ibiza, Spain

A collective exploration of how to design for belonging on the interwebs.


Where do we feel most at home? In the library, or on the Web? It seems plain as day: the Web has become our second home. The library, dark and smelling of mildew, may still be rich in experience but is dying.

Grooved into the nervous system of anyone who came of age in the 80’s and 90’s, the Web has caught up with the ‘real’ world and is now our second ‘real’ home. I remember the era of MSN, when I used to spend hours a day after Summer to send bubbly messages to my holiday boyfriend(s). It was a place to go to, not be in. You had to sit yourself down, endure the creaking sounds of logging in, and be patient, very patient.

Now, The Machine’s speed blows our mind. The physical world is merging with the virtual, and we are required to live in many places at the same time. And these developments go fast. Imagine being able to travel back in time to an era where the Internet euphoria had just begun and the dotcom boom was in full swing. It’s been only eighteen years. Eighteen years. No wonder my parents can’t keep up with the pace.

Add to that my generation’s love for being always on the go, being a digital nomad, a global speaker, or an eternal backpacker. My generation is a generation of wanderers seeking freedom in moving through space. They want to feel at home, wherever they are. But can they? Does our social contract allow for that?

And if this is just the start: how can we collectively strengthen our sense of belonging, if we can expect to be thrown into virtual realms at greater speed and with greater temptations in the future?

Those were the questions we asked during a Sunday workshop in October in my foresight studio ForesenseLab in Amsterdam. A gathering of designers, artists, architects and ecosystem thinkers, a collective exploration of how to design future spaces of belonging.
Knowing that this vast universe of virtual experiences is only growing and that it sucks more and more of our attention into the digital atmospheres: how can we design for direction and belonging in the interfaces we create, instead of designing for addiction? How do we prevent that the next wave of tech creates another stratosphere between us and our vocation, our productivity, our place of belonging in this world?

We wanted to look for and learn how to leave behind a mere sense of ‘space’ and nurture a sense of ‘belonging’ into the interfaces we design.
This workshop moved a group of brave participants through a number of awareness cultivating experiences, from a grounding meditation to spatial sound experiences, conscious movement, visualisations and open conversations on where we don’t feel safe (yet) amongst our communities, as data points on the Internet, on the streets, and in the wilderness that is this moment on this planet.

After these experiences we each dived into self-inquiry to create collages and mind maps of what we encountered in the realms of our inner belonging. To then, as a final ritual, share these reflections with the group.

I built this experience around a very analogue journey I made through Mongolia in 2017, where I saw tribal bonds, shamanism, food rituals, and the forces of nature being the glue of human thriving. What can we learn from these near forgotten indigenous cultures to weave a sense of belonging into our increasingly tech-immersive urban lives?

Questions raised:

- what is ‘sense of space’, and what is ‘sense of belonging?’

- who are we when we feel most at home?

- how do our spaces inform our senses, and vice versa?

- what can we as experience designers do to design for belonging and direction for future spaces on the Web?


Lisanne Buik, 2018
1015HC, Amsterdam, The Netherlands