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Speculative Everything

Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming

Anthony Dunne

Publication Year: 2013

Today designers often focus on making technology easy to use, sexy, and consumable. In <I>Speculative Everything</I>, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby propose a kind of design that is used as a tool to create not only things but ideas. For them, design is a means of speculating about how things could be -- to imagine possible futures. This is not the usual sort of predicting or forecasting, spotting trends and extrapolating; these kinds of predictions have been proven wrong, again and again. Instead, Dunne and Raby pose "what if" questions that are intended to open debate and discussion about the kind of future people want (and do not want). <I>Speculative Everything</I> offers a tour through an emerging cultural landscape of design ideas, ideals, and approaches. Dunne and Raby cite examples from their own design and teaching and from other projects from fine art, design, architecture, cinema, and photography. They also draw on futurology, political theory, the philosophy of technology, and literary fiction. They show us, for example, ideas for a solar kitchen restaurant; a flypaper robotic clock; a menstruation machine; a cloud-seeding truck; a phantom-limb sensation recorder; and devices for food foraging that use the tools of synthetic biology. Dunne and Raby contend that if we speculate more -- about everything -- reality will become more malleable. The ideas freed by speculative design increase the odds of achieving desirable futures.

Published by: The MIT Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vi-vii

Speculative Everything began as a list we created a few years ago called A/B, a sort of manifesto. In it, we juxtaposed design as it is usually understood with the kind of design we found ourselves doing. B was not intended to replace A but to simply add another dimension, something to compare it to and facilitate discussion. Ideally, C, D, E, and many others would follow.
This book unpacks the B bit of the...

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pp. viii-x

The ideas in this book have taken shape over many years through conversations and exchanges with many people. We would like to thank the following in particular for their support and help throughout the development of this project.
Our teaching activities at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London are a constant source of inspiration; we are privileged to work with supremely...

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1. Beyond Radical Design?

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pp. 1-10

It is hard to say what today’s dreams are; it seems they have been downgraded to hopes—hope that we will not allow ourselves to become extinct, hope that we can feed the starving, hope that there will be room for us all on this tiny planet. There are no more visions. We don’t know how to fix the planet and ensure our survival. We are just hopeful.
As Fredric Jameson famously

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2. A Map of Unreality

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pp. 11-32

Once designers step away from industrial production and the marketplace we enter the realm of the unreal, the fictional, or what we prefer to think of as conceptual design—design about ideas. It has a short but rich history and it is a place where many interconnected and not very well understood forms of design happen—speculative...

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3. Design as Critique

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pp. 33-46

Once we accept that conceptual design is more than a style option, corporate propaganda, or designer self-promotion, what uses can it take on? There are many possibilities—socially engaged design for raising awareness; satire and critique; inspiration, reflection, highbrow entertainment; aesthetic explorations; speculation about possible futures; and as a catalyst...

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4. Consuming Monsters: Big, Perfect, Infectious

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pp. 47-68

One area in which design as critique has obvious practical applications is science research. By moving upstream and exploring ideas before they become products or even technologies, designers can look into the possible consequences of technological applications before they happen. We can use speculative designs to debate potential ethical, cultural, social, and political...

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5. A Methodological Playground: Fictional Worlds and Thought Experiments

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pp. 69-88

Although design usually references sculpture and painting for material, formal and graphic inspiration, and more recently the social sciences for protocols on working with and studying people—if we are interested in shifting design’s focus from designing for how the world is now to designing for how things could be—we will need to turn to speculative culture and what Lubomír...

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6. Physical Fictions: Invitations to Make-Believe

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pp. 89-100

As science fiction author Bruce Sterling pointed out in a public conversation with us about design fiction, there are many forms of fictional objects outside art and design, including patents and failed inventions.1 These are fictional objects but they are accidental fictions. We are more interested in intentional fictional objects, physical fictions that celebrate and enjoy their...

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7. Aesthetics of Unreality

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pp. 101-138

How do you design for unreality, and what should it look like? How should the unreal, parallel, impossible, unknown, and yet-to-exist be represented? And how, in a design, can you simultaneously capture the real and not-real? This is where the aesthetic challenge for speculative design lies, in successfully straddling both. To fall on either side is too...

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8. Between Reality and the Impossible

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pp. 139-158

Speculative designs depend on dissemination and engagement with a public or expert audience; they are designed to circulate. The usual channels are exhibitions, publications, press, and the Internet. Each channel or medium creates its own issues of accessibility, elitism, populism, sophistication, audience, and so on. This need for dissemination means speculative designs...

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9. Speculative Everything

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pp. 159-189

In Dream: Re-imaging Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy Stephen Duncombe argues that the radical left has relied too heavily on reason, ignoring the place fantasy and fabricated realities play in our lives. From theme parks to soap operas to brands, whether we like it or not, we now live within a multitude of realities. Duncombe argues that radicals need to embrace...


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pp. 190-203


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pp. 204-216


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pp. 217-224

E-ISBN-13: 9780262318501
E-ISBN-10: 0262318504
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262019842

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013