Speculative Design

I was introduced to the concept of speculative design by a colleague in response to a new project kicking off at my current employer. The project promises to serve a new future-state business model within a specific industry. After sitting through meetings about timelines and dependencies, I wanted to start thinking about what this future experience could look like. After taking the concepts discussed throughout the meetings, discovering pain points through user journey maps I began iterating on designs to provide a visual prototype as a centerpiece for conversations about ‘what-ifs’ moving forward. This was intended to be something that could be torn down, built up, or rebuilt as we started to visually brainstorm the future of what the application could be.

Through researching speculative design, I came across this great article. The article served as an excellent primer and resource for other speculative design related resources. A favorite line from the article read: "Speculative Design is the use of design to create artifacts that live in a future scenario, informed by current trends, to trigger debate and critical reflection" How could I start thinking about these possible futures - some of which had already been brainstormed during our meetings - and how could artifacts created for these possible futures change our approach for the better. The article has a great graphic about the taxonomy of futures from the book Speculative Everything. I ordered the book and started pouring through it.

Speculative Everything by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby provides a nice introduction to speculative design and a historical compendium of speculative design throughout the disciplines and the effects the designs have had. The book has a focus on the social impacts of design and how speculative design can be used to create artifacts for future scenarios from multiple social perspectives.

While my designs for future state may not be considered pure speculative design, reading up about the concept and seeing the examples from Speculative Everything provided inspiration about how we could change work flows, streamline output, and increase efficiency by disrupting an age-old way of doing things.

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