Design Fictions


Hazel White, in the Bloomsbury Encyclopaedia of Design, explains DESIGN FICTION through the following definitions and examples:

Design Fiction borrows its name from Science Fiction—films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Minority Report (2002) enabled viewers to suspend belief and accept surprising technologies and behaviors.

Julian Bleecker in his essay Design Fiction (2009) develops the idea of “design fictions” as prototypes of other worlds and other experiences. Artifacts (films and objects) are created to tell stories about possible future use and behaviors, making ideas tangible and shareable, and creating a “thinking tool.”

Bruce Sterling (Wired, 2013) uses the definition: “Design fiction is the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change—ways of telling stories through artefacts to think about the future.”

Anthony Dunne (Hertzian Tales, 2005) introduces the idea of “genotypes”: artifacts that contain the “gene” of an idea, rather than being a stage on the process to manufacture, which is further explored as “speculative design.”

DIEGETIC PROTOTYPES: occurring within the context of the story, built on the sole premise of the narrative, and belonging herewithin. 

For design fiction, diegetic prototypes become artefacts which represent the future that the designer critically envisions. The prototype becomes a metaphor for the social, cultural, material, and political implications of the object in the projected future.

What could the speculative graphic designer’s potential diegetic prototypes be?

A lot of speculative design and design fiction (borrowing from science fiction and the ongoing popular technological discourse), focus on technological interventions (which is good, and much needed) but what about the socio-cultural aspects of the futures? Most often, these are envisioned as by-products of technological speculation.

I would like to situate my project on the socio-cultural aspect of futuring, with technological interventions being secondary to it, if it were to come to that.

Economy, society, culture, policy- all of these would influence these mediums in some way or the other. What would be the ideal channels to focus on for the outcome of this project?