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Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming

by Anthony Dunne

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611331,286 (4.13)None
How to use design as a tool to create not only things but ideas, to speculate about possible futures. Today designers often focus on making technology easy to use, sexy, and consumable. In Speculative Everything, 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). Speculative Everything 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.… (more)

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The book is a rather mature reflection on many years of notable design and teaching practice, providing a concise account of a design stance called speculative design. Ever since the authors coined the notion of critical design in the mid 1990s, they have seen design as a way to make people stop and think. In this book, they pull together a wealth of design examples with a conceptual framework to clarify how design can help us question big assumptions like capitalism and consumerism, and how it can help us probe alternate futures. It is highly significant for interaction design in at least two ways. First, it demonstrates coherently that design can go beyond fixing problems or styling features to engage with societal challenges in fruitful ways. Moreover, it illustrates how the gallery and exhibition route complements the more common view of design as sociotechnical intervention where artsy ambitions are sometimes seen as less authentic.
  jonas.lowgren | Aug 3, 2016 |
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How to use design as a tool to create not only things but ideas, to speculate about possible futures. Today designers often focus on making technology easy to use, sexy, and consumable. In Speculative Everything, 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). Speculative Everything 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.

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