Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming

9780262019842_0Fiona Raby and Anthony Dunne use design as a medium to stimulate discussion and debate amongst designers, industry and the public about the social, cultural and ethical implications of existing and emerging technologies.

Their book, Speculative Everything (MIT Press, 2013), propose to use design as “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.”

Dunne & Raby’s website offer glimpses and explanations of their projects and exhibitions, exploring the potential of speculative designs in urban planning, construction, and future thinking.

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Algae Digester (Dunne & Raby, Designs for an overpopulated planet: Foragers, 2009)

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