Speculative Design

"The things we design aren't intended for the world as it is."
-- Dunne and Raby

Above image: Robots by Dunne and Raby


Speculative design is a process by which objects and systems are designed to represent an imagined reality. Often these realities address certain global issues/"wicked problems" we see in our current environments.

Three questions we'll ask

What are some examples of Speculative Design?

We'll go over the history of Speculative Design and the key players in defining the field. We'll also do several studies of foundational Speculative Design projects to see what types of subject matter have been tackled and the corresponding artifacts that were created.

What makes great Speculative Design?

After absorbing the history of the field, we can begin to construct our own understanding of the qualities of Speculative Design. From here we'll learn about the principles of great speculative projects.

Additional studies will be done with a focus on critique. What's working? What's not? We'll build our skills in analyzing and discussing speculative work and see how this lens can inform our own practice.

When should you use Speculative Design?

All tools have a time and place. We'll come up with our own quick projects/exercises and understand how to frame and focus the scope of the work to best utilize the Speculative Design Toolkit. This will conclude with a final critique where we will review our projects provide feedback.

As a final note we'll discuss documentation and the role it plays in cementing speculative narratives. How should you document your work? As a website? A film? A photo series? An essay? Documentation in design is an extension of storytelling.


Bad Shibe
A great example of design fiction and world building.

Intro to Speculative Design
A brief introduction to the field of Speculative Design & Crtitical Design

Non Colonist Speculative Design
Race, Class, and Gender privileges and the need to address them in Speculative Design.

Screenless Office
A cool project on the future of office dynamics. We may review this one.

Collapse OS
Compelling example of both speculative and real-life applications. A lot of opportuntiy for narrative around this project.

Between Reality and the Impossible
Dunne and Raby, the pioneers of Speculative Design, discuss a few of their projects.

What is a World?
I love Ian Cheng, he has a wonderful perspective on world building, a critical component of Speculative Design.



Speculative Design