Design Fiction, Speculative Design, Artistic research

Readings about the topics:

  • Auger, James. 2012. “Speculative design: The products that technology could become”. In Why Robot? Speculative Design, the domestication of technology and the considered future. PhD Thesis. RCA, London.

  • Wakkary, Ron & Odom, William & Hauser, Sabrina & Hertz, Garnet & Lin, Henry. 2016. A short guide to material speculation: Actual artifacts for critical inquiry. interactions. 23. 44-48.

Design Fiction:

"Design fiction" is situated between art, design, and fiction - Bruce Sterlin, 2005. It is based on science fiction meaning imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life.

Value of design fiction:

Fiction and pop culture can shape our ideas about technology and can drive new designs. All new and innovative design is fiction or speculation to some extent. Also, problems and biases of existing technologies can be explored.

Drawbacks of design fiction:

Design Fiction allows exploring strange and disruptive times and places, but it has no formal methods. When we think about the future, we think about it from our own perspective. This makes design fiction rarely critical.

Speculative Design:


  • hypothetical field of science

  • predictions and hypotheses on the evolution

  • scenarios

  • form of fiction

  • what-if questions

  • speculative world

It incorporates cultural elements like fashion, trends, and human choice. Critics towards these ideas: How to keep Speculative Design scientific and not just fictional stories? How do you do it well, with clarity, with groundedness, with not only having our own perspectives engaged when looking towards the future but maintaining unbiased. Speculative Design can be a method for selling products or ideas, and it can be hard to stay critical of this marketing method when it is presented as a science-based theory.

New Terms for me:

  • Diegetic prototyping means contextually consistent within its own world

  • Diegetic means thinking seriously about potential objects and services.

  • Material Speculation: It emphasizes the material or mediating experience of specially designed artifacts in our everyday world.

Our exercise in the class was fascinating. What could communication look like in an alternative futuristic timeline?

I came up with the following what-if questions:

What if humans would communicate just by sign language? And how would this affect our digital communication?

What if there would be only one language in the world?

What if there were no social network/internet, would people still communicate via telephone & letters or would there be another solution for more rapid communication with distance?

My quick sketch about a virtual chat with signs instead of text.

Artistic research:

"Research that defines art as its object in one way or another is generally called art research. Art can, however, also offer a premise and an aim for research: a motive, a terrain, a context and a whole range of methods. This kind of research is often referred to as “artistic research”."

- Uniarts:,to%20as%20%E2%80%9Cartistic%20research%E2%80%9D.

How Could I use design fiction, speculative design, and artistic research in my own work as an interaction designer?

I think I will use these methods a lot since as a wearable and interaction designer I am constantly trying to come up with new ways to use technologies or create new technologies. Fictional ideas in movies for example have been known to come real. Many technologies created for sci-fi movies came to life.

Star Treck created the Ipad.

Also in wearable design, speculative design and forecasting future signals and upcoming Megatrends are very important. Even if as a designer I could not bring something to the mainstream, but I could bring an idea to life, that would evolve with time.

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All