Inspirational! I found the opening chapter of Dunne & Raby’s ‘Speculative Everything’ felt like more of a provocative manifesto than a discussion about a creative process. It’s really challenged the way I’ve thought about speculation within design – it’s tempting to think speculation is a way of predicting our future desires and the process often seems driven by a commercial outcome.
As a designer, I’ve been part of design and marketing teams striving for ‘the next big thing’, often creating a superficial outcome that lasts as long as the previous trend. As Dunne & Raby point out, there has been many technological predictions that simply haven’t panned out in the real world, a good example of this being Google Glass.
Researching this area of critical design further I’ve come to realise that it’s more of a political position rather than a process as it aims to tackle wider social, cultural and technological issues. In contrast to art, film and other narrative mediums, design is rarely used as a way of exploring these topics. I think one of the main reasons for this is that design has been hijacked by consumer culture and can be simply viewed as another commodity, making things nice and shiny and glossing over any imperfections.
Speculative design’s sole ambition is to present new possibilities, coupled with a believable path that links that possibility with the present. Whether a speculative project presents something positive or negative, the fact that it is possible is something that can genuinely empower change in our lives today.
When Dunne & Raby say ‘Dreams have been down graded to hopes’ on page one, it seems they aim to challenge our current cultural position of being hopeful rather than taking a more proactive tone when it comes to our future. However I do feel, particularly in recent years, our culture is becoming much more receptive to change, meaning that speculative design has a very important role to play in our future development.
Throughout this unit of study, I hope to gain some techniques and methods for tackling some of the social and cultural issues we face today on both a macro and micro level. It’s a pretty overwhelming topic and at this stage I’m not sure how I’m going to break it down to more relatable ‘everyday’ scenarios but I am already really passionate about the subject and up for the challenge!