Open from 
20th November 2019, 12:00pm EST to 31st January 2020, 6:00pm EST
Results by 
21st March
Click here to learn more & apply.

Design makes worlds. It directs the traffic of humanity through the creation of cultural, social, and material space. But do we feel empowered to direct? To design?

Most moments of our existence are touched by design. We all sketch, we fashion trial balloons, we tinker with thoughts and concepts, we revise, we prototype, we analyze and critique, and we build. And then build again.

Design intersects with science and art. We design experiments for research, scientific visualizations, and genetic models. We design performances, texts, and communication. We design gardens, houses, and cities. We create small and large. We find beauty in experience and efficiency.

Design often mimics the intricate and perfect connections of healthy biological systems that nurture life. Yet design can also create destruction and chaos, or limit our participation and humanity. How might we explore this fantastic and perilous labyrinth of connections and implications bound up with art, science, and design?

The open call is an invitation to explore the world of design and its intersection with art and science. We invite proposals that address a wide range of subjects and themes, including the following:


  • What would a world without design be like?
  • How might design influence our vision and creative process? Our desires? Our identities and the identities of the world?
  • How could biodesign restructure, improve, and restore our lives, or damage and destroy them?
  • What might we learn from the ways that artists structure their studios, and the ways that scientists lay out equipment and material in their labs?
  • Could we design ways to have our consciousness and cognitive acts leave traces beyond the death of our body?
  • How does design expertise interact with a participatory design process? How can we design spaces where experts and non-experts build together?
  • Could we create a participatory process for designing the future?
  • How might design conjure up a beautiful, eerie, exciting, or creepy anticipation of the future?
  • How might we think about vernacular design?
  • What is the past and future of the relationship between nature, biology, and design?
  • How does design direct intentions?
  • How can we deal with the fact that design is both magical and dangerous?
  • How could design not suppress the chaotic, unexpected, improbable, and disruptive?
  • How might we design spaces and communities for highly mobile geographically nomadic groups of people?
  • How could we address the trauma of digital data and selves becoming commodified, transacted, and controlled and suppressed?
  • Could design guide a desirable transformation of society toward an equitable sustainable state?
  • How do the designs of our technologies reflect or challenge our biases?


Experimentation, provocation and research are at the heart of SGD’s values and programs. This exhibition will explore the practice and concept of design through the lens of artists, psychologists, storytellers, digital gamers, molecular biologists, performers, neuroscientists, designers, computer scientists, nurses, engineers, musicians, mathematicians, architects, and young people. The list of possibilities is endless.

Your proposal could be a new or existing artwork, performance, workshop, digital intervention, research project, virtual reality game, or other activity. We strongly recommend that you keep our target audience of young people aged 15-25 years in mind and consider including interactive or participatory elements. We would love humor to feature in the exhibition. Check out our tips on what makes a good open call submission.


We collectively acknowledge that Michigan State University occupies the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples. In particular, the University resides on Land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw. We recognize, support, and advocate for the sovereignty of Michigan’s twelve federally-recognized Indian nations, for historic Indigenous communities in Michigan, for Indigenous individuals and communities who live here now, and for those who were forcibly removed from their Homelands. By offering this Land Acknowledgement, we affirm Indigenous sovereignty and will work to hold Michigan State University more accountable to the needs of American Indian and Indigenous peoples.


Science Gallery Detroit creates exhibitions with young people for young people. Future Present Design will be shaped by the curatorial panel which is made up of active artists, scientists, and designers, advised by young people and Science Gallery Detroit staff.

  • Ralph Borland, Independent Artist, Curator and Knowledge Worker
  • Antajuan Scott, Head of Programming, Science Gallery Detroit
  • Olga Stella, Executive Director, Design Core Detroit
  • Mark Sullivan, Michigan State University, Hub for Innovation in Learning & Technology, College of Music, Creative Director, Science Gallery Detroit, Lead Curator


As a guide, the majority of our projects are funded up to around $3,000 USD which includes all artist fees, materials, equipment, shipping, and travel. We enthusiastically welcome proposals that come in below that budget.