Speculative design

The world we recognize today was once only conceivable as an imagined, speculative future.

The Design-based disciplines (Architecture, Communication Design, Industrial Design and Spatial Design) are chiefly responsible for the constructed environments in which we live, work and play. While it might be said that Science seeks to explain how things ‘are’, Design aims to explore how things ‘could be’ by identifying solutions to problems and seeking to improve upon the status quo. Today, the value of Design goes well beyond functionality or aesthetics. By challenging assumptions and conceptions about the role that objects, media and systems play in our everyday life, Design – as process and way of thinking – can serve as a means of stimulating different ways of ‘speculat[ing] about possible futures; and as a catalyst for change.’ [1]

‘Design today is concerned primarily with commercial and marketing activities but it could operate on a more intellectual level. It could place new technological developments within imaginary but believable everyday situations that would allow us to debate the implications of different technological futures before they happen.’ [2]

We invite creative practitioners (designers, creative technologists, content producers) to imagine ‘what if’? Proposed projects will be undertaken through practice-based research leading to creative outcomes (experimental designs, prototypes, scenarios and experiments) that explore how different intelligences (human, design, machine) can be activated to develop innovative propositions in response to societal challenges. We invite proposals for self-initiated research projects that will stimulate debate about new and emerging, near-future technologies, especially their role in promoting forms of knowledge – including embodied and experiential processes – that engage and involve people in thinking differently about the future.

References and further reading

[1] Dunne, Anthony and Fiona Raby. Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. Cambridge, Mass and London, England: The MIT Press, 2013, 33.

[2] Dunne & Raby, Design for DebateOnline publication. Accessed: 15 December 2019.

Lederwasch, A. Scenario art: A new futures method that uses art to support decision-making for sustainable development. Journal of Futures Studies, 17(1), 2012, 25-40.

McGonigal, Jane. Our puny brains are terrible at thinking about the future. Online publication. Accessed: 15 December 2019

Ramos, Jose, Sweeney, John A., Peach, Kathy and Laurie Smith, Our Futures: by the people, for the people. Technical Report. NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts): London. 2019.



Dr Vince Dziekan
Professor Jon McCormack

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