Design Fictions (EN)

Image Song of the Machine, a Lab Project by Superflux, 2011. 

Bleecker (2009) coined the notion of Design Fiction as a “prototyping technique tailored to facilitating conversations about the near future [3-5 years]”. It is a form of speculative design influenced by science fiction, the stories about an imagined future, in which “narrative and technology converge” (Hales, 2013). As a technique, Design Fiction stands on the intersection of futures studies and design, as a form of “forward thinking intervention” (Sterling, n.d.) or “micro futures studies” (Near Future Laboratory, 2015b).

Designers make Design Fiction proposals either as self-initiated projects or as assignments for clients. Their goal is to “forge a discursive space where design insights emerge” (Lindley and Potts, 2014). The end is to grab public attention and to influence the audience’s thoughts about the future (Sterling, n.d.).

Near Future Laboratory (2015b) defines its process as informal and experimental where “designers can create and embody new possible futures” (Grand and Wiedmer, 2010).

The results of this design form of envisioning are prototypes of common artefacts of tomorrow, which are part of short-term futures (Grand & Wiedmer, 2010), and a short film, which presents a story based on individuals’ relation with the prototypes in a fictional world. Both, the video and the prototypes are used in workshops with clients, or other involved people, as means of communication. Designers use them in two different ways, as a form of representing the concept in a tangible manner, and as a mean of intervening, stimulating the discussion about the future (Hales, 2013).