Future Domestic Landscape is a platform showcasing the collective output of the Faceless Interaction Design course, a 10-week full time course for the second year MFA Interaction Design students at Umeå Institute of Design, running from 2015–17.
The course brief asked the students to imagine domestic life 20 years from now and critically design for this future context, using the format of design fictions, producing minimum one experience prototype and a 2–3 min long video narrative. Rather than recycling the broken imagination inherent in the technocentric, flat-pack Western rendition of “the smart home”, we were interested in prototyping a plurality of highly diverse, sometimes conflicting, domestic futures. Future Domestic Landscape is the space in which all of these futures co-exist.
On the backdrop of the promises of ubiquitous computing and the current IoT hype fuelling the majority of smart home visions, a major constraint in the course was for the students to design (inter)faceless interaction, meaning non-screen based interaction, e.g. voice interface, haptics, sound, taste etc. In addition to speculating on the future role domestic life as well as the future of faceless technologies, students were also asked to pay particular attention to the aesthetics of their future designs, alongside the larger societal-systemic context in which they would ground themselves. All these many facets were supported by bringing in a wide array of external guests, posing critical perspectives relating the role of future technology, as well as the role of design, what we mean by ‘home’, feminist and decolonial perspectives on how we design futures, and more. As the IxD MFA program is highly international, we further asked the students to critically situate their design fictions in rich cultural contexts they were familiar with (rather than a generic Western setting), and to not only consider who they are designing for, but also to actively confront their audiences with their futures, testing out the design fictions as part of the process. Each 10-week project cycle concluded with a group exhibition open to the public.
Future Domestic Landscape goes a step further by collecting all the design fictions across 2015–17 in one shared space. In this way we hope to engage a wider audience, not only in the many projects, but also in the question of how to navigate the larger space, exploring the points of convergence and divergence across the collective course output. We invite visitors to interact with the entire landscape, co-speculate with us, and share any reflections or ideas that might emerge in the process.