Dunne and Raby 2013

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Dunne, Anthony and Fiona Raby. Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013.

"When people think of design, most believe it is about problem solving. Even the more expressive forms of design are about solving aesthetic problems. Faced with huge challenges such as overpopulation, water shortages, and climate change, designers feel an overpowering urge to work together to fix them, as though they can be broken down, quantified, and solved. Design’s inherent optimism leaves no alternative but it is becoming clear that many of the challenges we face today are unfixable and that the only way to overcome them is by changing our values, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. Although essential most of the time, design’s inbuilt optimism can greatly complicate things, first, as a form of denial that the problems we face are more serious than they appear, and second, by channeling energy and resources into fiddling with the world out there rather than the ideas and attitudes inside our heads that shape the world out there.

Rather than giving up altogether, though, there are other possibilities for design: one is to use design as a means of speculating how things could be—speculative design. This form of design thrives on imagination and aims to open up new perspectives on what are sometimes called wicked problems, to create spaces for discussion and debate about alternative ways of being, and to inspire and encourage people’s imaginations to flow freely. Design speculations can act as a catalyst for collectively redefining our relationship to reality." (2)

Not predicting or fixing the future but "the idea of possible futures" (2)

"For us futures are not a destination or something to be strived for but a medium to aid imaginative thought—to speculate with." (3)

Cones of possible futures: probable, plausible, possible, fantasy [not interested in this], cone connecting probable and plausible that is "preferable"

"Designers should not define futures for everyone else but working with experts, including ethicists, political scientists, economists, and so on, generate futures that act as catalysts for public debate and discussion about the kinds of futures people really want." (6)

Commercialization of design in the 1980s

Step away from the marketplace, we enter "the realm of the unreal, the fictional, or what we prefer to think of as conceptual design -- design about ideas" (11)

NOT same as social/humanitarian design, which rejects market but experiments with reality as it is now, but rather imagines new possibilities altogether -- "how things could be" (12)

Sol Lewitt: "ideas implement the concept" -- they are the components of concepts.

Peter Eisenman, House VI (1975)

Design as critique -- critical design vs. affirmative design (design that reinforces the status quo)

"Critical design is critical thought translated into materiality. It is about thinking through design rather than through words and using the language and structure of design to engage people. It is an expression or manifestation of our skeptical fascination with technology, a way of unpicking the different hopes, fears, promises, delusions, and nightmares of technological development and change, especially how scientific discoveries move from the laboratory into everyday life through the marketplace." (35)

"All good critical design offers an alternative to how things are. It is the gap between reality as we know it and the different idea of reality referred to in the critical design proposal that creates the space for discussion." (35)

dark design

"Critical design, by generating alternatives, can help people construct compasses rather than maps for navigating new sets of values." (44)

"shift from designing applications to designing implications" (49)

Thought experiments


speculative design props -- how will they be used? -- similar to objects in museum that help us imagine the past -- each prop has its own voice

Design fiction -- future vision video

Beyond parody and pastiche

The "proposal"