8 June 2022


Future Scenarios

Visualising Gen-Z as cultural audience of 2040

DEN future scenarios gen-Z cultural audience illustration

About the project

DEN is a knowledge institute working to stimulate digital innovation in the cultural sector in the Netherlands.

They approached me to help them bring to life four future scenarios, each showing a different version of generation Z and the cultural audience they could become in 2040. The aim was to make these scenarios more easily imaginable, in order to help entities in the cultural sector such as theatres and musea to adapt into the future.

In addition to this brief, my personal goal with this assignment was to create lively and cinematic scenes that be like a window to a different world in a single image.

DEN future scenarios document
The starting point: a document developed by Freija van Duijne for DEN, outlining the characteristics of the four future scenarios along two axes: Active / Passive, and Inclusive / Fragmented.
DEN future scenarios first sketch
Our first sketch after thoroughly discussing the scenarios with DEN. We decided to create one main character, Naomi, to appear in each scene as alternative versions of herself, highlighting the differences between the four timelines.
DEN future scenarios second sketch uitwerking
After some tweaks, the first concepts were approved for further execution. We added short textual descriptions to bring into focus what we were depicting. A copywriter refined the descriptions over some iterations.
DEN future scenarios black and white values check
Black & white roughs to check how the contrasts would work in the full color version.
DEN future scenarios color options
I provided 3 color options and the client picked this one. The selective color matches with DEN's brand identity and highlights the key points in each scene.

Active cultural (re)producers

Many theatres and musea were forced to close down after losing their subsidy. This is Naomi's chance as a producer. She's part of an international talent hub aiming to co-create and exchange collections together. Hybrid forms, blended genres and remakes: all turn out to be hugely successful. Is this the new way? (Axes: Active + Inclusive)

DEN scenario active content creators inclusive society

Active online bubbles

Naomi is an important online cultural influencer. She advocates for the environment, while also sharing entertaining content about her personal life. The world is her stage. Each week, she reaches around 2 million people globally, who actively share her content. Companies and artists all want to collaborate. However, not everyone cares about her content; they follow their own interests and end up in their own online bubbles. (Axes: Active + Fragmented)

DEN scenario active online fragmented interests

Passive isolated communities

Naomi lives in a suburban community, where the real estate is still affordable and she can surround herself with like-minded people. Everything is within reach; shops, sports, and a wide range of cultural offerings. She can just take her pick, or otherwise search for it online; like following an online course in calligraphy. She's not very active on social media and only shares something when it feels truly special. (Axes: Passive + Fragmented)

DEN scenarios passive fragmented communities

Passive consumers of a diverse cultural offering

Museum square is full of announcements: a VR experience at the museum, a Spanish singer at the pop stage, and a dance performance with drones. Unlike some of the younger visitors, who can't be bothered by any of it, Naomi is definitely interested. But should she get a ticket to go see it in one of these traditional temples of culture, or just check it out online? (Axes: Passive + Inclusive)

DEN scenarios passive consumers inclusive cultural offer


The four illustrations were made into a beautiful instruction manual, which explains how they may be used by cultural institutions to brainstorm and prepare for the future.

You can download the manual here.

DEN future scenarios guidebook
DEN future scenarios main character Naomi

Many thanks to Reinier Hamel from Spinner & Langkous for the graphic design on the manual, Freija van Duijne for creating the original scenarios, Marjolein de Boo for the copywriting, and everyone else at DEN for the beautiful assignment and collaboration. For more information on DEN and its activities, visit DEN.nl.