Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The MIT Press
Title Page, Copyright
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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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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...
1. Beyond Radical Design?
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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
2. A Map of Unreality
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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...
3. Design as Critique
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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...
4. Consuming Monsters: Big, Perfect, Infectious
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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...
5. A Methodological Playground: Fictional Worlds and Thought Experiments
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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...
6. Physical Fictions: Invitations to Make-Believe
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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...
7. Aesthetics of Unreality
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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...
8. Between Reality and the Impossible
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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...
9. Speculative Everything
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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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Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013