On Speculative Design

Speculative design is a branch of design that tries to imagine what it would be like to design without the current limitations of technology, culture, politics, or health. It doesn't predict, but imagines all possible futures that could be.

Speculative design uses prototypes as physical manifestations of ideas. It wants to see what can be created, and then explore society's relationship with those creations. It wants to prototype things because it makes ideas shareable. 

Our niche space is “Speculative Optimism”– the best that could happen which is critical and possible.

We think of the speculative design method as a communication tool – when we engage with a physical prototype (speculative objects) we engage with all our senses; inviting others to build on our ideas becomes possible. 

The Cone of Preferable Futures, from Dunne & Raby’s book Speculative Everything, depicts a useful way of making future scenarios guided by what we want the future to be, rather than being limited by what it most likely will be. It reminds us that the most probable development needs a counterweight and a striving towards the preferable. 

What is created within the realm of speculative design is not meant to be sent back to the present nor to an uncertain future, but rather to support an entirely different future. Speculative designs does so by challenging the status quo and any default assumptions about the future we might have.

In rapid prototyping mode we welcome the purest ideas. We use intuition and spontaneity. We let go of the notion that ideas must have arguments and analyses before involving others. Prototypes don’t need to answer questions but are made to raise new ones.

The Time Travel Agency sells time travel whose content is 100% created by travelers who design their own way of interacting with the future; this means they can reconstruct what they learn whenever they need it.