Speculative Design is about propositional design concepts that embrace change and radical innovations or revision rather than iterative re-design. Speculative design embraces the ideas of Critical Design, Discursive Design and Product/Service/Systems Design to achieve our studio practice and project resolution.
“Let’s call it critical design, that questions the cultural, social and ethical implications of emerging technologies. A form of design that can help us to define the most desirable futures, and avoid the least desirable.”
– Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby, RCA
Speculative studio projects are set to provoke you into different ways of thinking and privileging alternative ideas, behaviours and expectations from the subjects you encounter. The catalyst for speculative projects may by the inclusion of a new technology or social condition, such as everybody being biologically linked to the internet, or the result of a response to an exclusion form our current paradigm of thinking about design, For example if Fossil fuels became illegal overnight, how would that affect our way of living and working and what might we do in response to such a scenario.
Speculative design allows the temporary abandonment of current ways of thinking, to embrace an alternative and then gather the most potent ideas for sharing with an unprepared public or stakeholder groups.
Speculative design practices illuminate and illustrate the potential future, for people who are faced with developing socio-cultural situations such as increased traffic congestion, forced relocation due to conflict or environmental impacts. Inclusion of a major disruptive element may also be economic origin, such as sunsetting industries or changes to how we work such as developing new and different Work-life balance.
Speculative Design engages in polemic wicked problems, difficult and complex challenges to our status quo, and potential survival as a species through challenges such as climate change and the effects on food and energy production, distribution and consumption. Design in this way can be global, political and discursive in its interventions.
The World Design Organisation (WDO) has identified seven of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as of particular relevance to our community.
Speculative Design studios require you to develop questions and answers to challenge and engage your personal and professional design practice. We consider:
- How things might be under a given paradigm shift?
- How things can be improved despite the apparent challenges of a particular scenario ?
- How things can be reframed to be more ethical, relevant and equitable?
- How a company might develop a future product by extrapolating or evolving their current DNA
Speculative design toolkits typically include:
- Evolutionary, strategic and design futuring
- Illustration of scenarios, personas and products for reflection on a future…
- Visualization and prototyping of products, services and systems.
Speculative design studios embrace intellectual approaches to PSS Service and Transition design, Discursive Design, Critical Design, Disruption, Provocation and propositional design Thinking.
For more reading please take a look at:
- Apple’s vision of the future “Knowledge Navigator (1987) Apple Computer”, a speculation on how we might engage with computers prior to the internets commercial ascendance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb4AzF6wEoc, then in 2007 Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnrJzXM7a6o, proposition and product that have shaped our current practices.
- World Design organisation Resources including the current definition of design https://wdo.org/about/definition/ and design references to the UN Sustainable Development Goals https://wdo.org/resources/world-design-agenda/
- Between Wit and Reason: Defining Associative, Speculative, and Critical Design in Practice https://www.slideshare.net/egoodman/speculative-full
- What is Discursive Design? By Bruce and Stephanie Tharp, 2015 https://www.core77.com/posts/41991/What-is-Discursive-Design
- A concise presentation on LinkedIn – Slide Share ‘Speculative Design’, By Elizabeth Goodman, Andrew Lovett-Baron and Maryanna Rogers. https://blog.optimalworkshop.com/what-is-speculative-design/