AN IDEA: DESIGN FICTION

Design fiction has been usefully defined as:

...an approach to design that speculates about new ideas through prototyping and storytelling.

 

There's that word again. Speculate. The concept and practice of design fiction lives in the space of conventions where artists and scientists get together. One of design fiction's original mutations is the science-fiction genre novel. In an interview with sci-fi author Bruce Sterling, the whole concept of suspending belief in order to imagine change (in terms of potential objects and services) is interrogated.

What I can glean, is that design fiction is a literal presentation of The Future of Objects. I can see how artists and scientists alike are engaging. Sterling explains that the main way this is done is through video presentations containing a series of vignettes of people interacting with objects and services, as opposed to straight out sci-fi films. The emphasis is on participating in the creation of future gadgets, literally designing for the future, rather than telling futuristic stories with 'Avatar-style heroics':

'It's not a kind of fiction. It's a kind of design. It tells worlds rather than stories.'

Clearly, there's never been a shortage of sci-fi cinema. I just watched Blade Runner (1982) for the first time and sincerely hope that is not what 2019 will look like. Matthew Ward's article on design fiction in design education roots these ideas in a more relevant context. Asking, how has design fiction been left out of educational practice and, how has the activity of speculation been left out of education?

It makes a lot of sense it terms of design:

'Whether a week, month, year or decade away, designers produce propositions for a world that is yet to exist.'

In some ways I could be a designer. Strip that word of its general connotations to graphic, interior, fashion, app, architect, industrial, and in my communications trajectory I am a designer of words, media, strategies and ideas into meaningful wholes. In this sense, more akin to a re-arranger, bricklayer, or projectionist