Speculative design

How to apply


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.

Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby, “Design for Debate.”

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.

Projects in this research area may have a formal relationship to Sensilab. (Nb. To be determined on a case by case basis as part of the expression-of-interest and application process.)

Skillset/pre-requisites: Artist, Designer, Media producer, Creative technologist, Digital software/systems developer

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