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Just Design: Being Dogmatic about Defining Speculative Critical Design Future Fiction

Tonkinwise describes his post on Medium as a “disgruntled manifesto” which is directed at the over use, or mis-use of the terms Speculative Design, Critical Design and Design Fiction. The post argues that all design is speculative, and should all be critical. This post offers some concise definitions and tries to tame the use of the word, but misses the thrust of the original arguments posed by Dunne and Raby, going back through their work. I think that for Dunne and Raby all design object shave a rhetoric (a la Buchanan) but the purposefulness of the object is also important. The Speculative Design process frees the object from certain discourses about utility, feasibility, commercialism etc. This allows the object to be purposely encoded or inscribed with certain philosophies, rather than Buchanan’s understanding of Design Rhetoric which is largely unconscious.
Useful Quotes
“in addition to design being unique as the practice of making futures, design is unique for approaching the world in terms of human-thing-interactions. Design sees materials practices; design sees the way the world is realized as material practices. Design makes futures by making new material practices.”

“Of course, these short stories of future uses of designs should be informed by ‘real’ social research. But they are (non-fiction) fictions because
i) they describe future situations or normalized use of a design that do not yet exist,
ii) they should be ‘brief but vivid,’ effectively capturing the affective quality of being-with these future designs.”

“There is therefore an ethical challenge to design fictions. Though fictive, they are the basis on which evaluations of designs are made. The way to negotiate the danger of this ‘confirmation bias’ lies in the fact that the ontology of fiction is ‘plausibility,’ even if what is being described is currently improbable and even impossible. It is the job of the (design) fiction-er to imagine as thoroughly as possible the interrelations of that fictional world, to find and reveal all that is plausible given those conditions. This is the imperative of a ‘moral imagination.’”

“Speculations are forms of disciplined imagining, methods by which designers force themselves to think in more ambitiously counterfactual ways. Speculations try to push beyond current expectations and trending futures; they expand the sense of what is possible.”
Published inPhD