What If …

Speculative Everything

Thomas Wagner
Feb 17, 2017 · 4 min read

In their book „Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming“ (2013), Anthony Dunne (Professor and Head of the Design Interactions Programme at the Royal College of Art) and Fiona Raby (Professor of Industrial Design at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna) have given an overview about how design can be used as a tool to imagine possible futures and question the status quo. Dunne and Raby (2013) described speculative design in a way of speculating about how things could be in the future.

In the following I will give a short overview about key aspects of this book which are important for me and why I think, speculative design can play an important role for designer.

Beyond Radical Design

Speculative design is described as “creating an idea of possible futures” (Dunne and Raby, 2013, p. 2). Those futures can be postive but also negative and will reflect the world we are living in today. Everything starts with a „What-if“ question to open up spaces of discussion and debate. With the power of design it is possible to question, provoke and inspire.

What if Amazon did housing? A concept by Future Facility at the Design Museum’s NEW OLD show.

Conceptual design

Design as critique

Why speculative design?

Dunne and Raby mention: „As designers, we need to shift from designing applications to designing implications by creating imaginary products and services that situates these new developments within everyday material culture. As the science fiction writer Frederick Pohl once remarked, a good writer does not think up only the automobile but also the traffic jam.“ (Dunne and Raby, 2013, p. 49)

Speculative design and its ability to critical question and reflect, is a great tool to explore new fields, make things tangible and to start a discussion. It lets people think about things in a different way and opens up space for imagination and inspiration. With these tools, designer are able to question the mindset of our values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. This discovery can be a very inspiring process which helps us to drop constraints and run free.


Dunne, A., Raby, F., 2013. Speculative everything: design, fiction, and social dreaming. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts ; London.

Global Design Futures

Thoughts about Global Design and Future Trends

Thomas Wagner

Written by

Design, Research & Strategy | Service Experience Designer (MA) based in London | Currently Service & Interaction Designer @ Method London | wagnerthomas.org

Global Design Futures

Thoughts about Global Design and Future Trends

Thomas Wagner

Written by

Design, Research & Strategy | Service Experience Designer (MA) based in London | Currently Service & Interaction Designer @ Method London | wagnerthomas.org

Global Design Futures

Thoughts about Global Design and Future Trends

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