Comic: Coliving in 2050

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I drew this 1-page comic in one weekend as part of my application to attend the IDEO Fall 2019 Co-Lab Makeathon. The prompt was a “design fiction” exercise to share an experience or moment in 2050 that’s different from today. I chose to showcase the experience of a young girl growing up in a shared house to promote the coliving movement as a solution to rising population density, unaffordable housing, and loneliness.

For those new to it, coliving is shared housing, usually based on shared values (e.g. sustainability). I was inspired by my coliving experience two summers ago in a hacker house in Bushwick, Brooklyn where I found a community of artists, musicians, computer scientists, and creative tinkerers from all around the world. We made french toast, fed bees, watched shooting stars on the beach, watched sunsets behind the Manhattan skyline from the roof of our apartment building, and did all sorts of funky stuff like mining bitcoin or uninstalling our doorknob to take measurements for a keyless lock. It was an ever-evolving collection of weird, amazing humans.

It was the first time I learned to fully embrace my creativity and vulnerability, opening my heart up to both receive love, and to give it in the form of art and joy. I ended up painting a sunflower mural in the house as my goodbye gift, and left reminded of the importance of human connection and creative experimentation. That summer changed my life in many ways, including inspiring me to start a creative collective back at school and reviving my passion for art.

However, not everyone in the future will be interested in living with a bunch of young hackers, so I wanted to imagine a world in which coliving had scaled to fit people of all ages and backgrounds. This comic illustrates the kind of world I am aiming to bring about: one that is environmentally sustainable, empathetic, and filled with genuine human connection.

If you’re interested in learning more about how coliving is a real thing, here’s an article on baby boomers moving into shared housing, an example of a communal home in Belgium, and a worldwide survey by IKEA on coliving preferences. May you try it out for yourself sometime!

Carmen Lau