Design Fiction Co-Lab

We help you go out of your mind.

A socially responsible, multicultural, interdisciplinary gameboard to collaborate on ideas in a flat-world, for creating near-life experiences.

<work in progress> Perpetual </work in progress>

Marshmallow Challenge Winners

Thesis 1: Everything created by humans is meant to be used by other humans (maybe even themselves).

Thesis 2: Everything that is wrong or right in the world of today is because of something designers did or didn’t do.

Thesis 3: Human beings believe that thinking is an automatic activity but it isn’t. We have to learn to think.

There is no THE future. But there’s always A future waiting for us.

Via the Design Fiction Co-Lab we want

  • an evolving ecosystem where possibilitarians can collaborate
  • to create projects leading to artefacts
  • that people should be able to see and feel a future before that future arrives: creating futures and interacting with possible futures to decide collectively if, how and when to go that route.
Design Fiction is a tool / method / idea (if you can even call it these) to **democratically** test near futures by involving customers / stakeholders in defining product / service design. Interdisciplinary skills and collaboration are prerequisites to ensure the stories can manifest as experiences that people can see / touch / feel and interact with.

Design Fiction or Near-life Experience (as my friend Jeff Smith, co-founder of Lunar Design, likes to call it) is about-

  1. Visualising a scenario, product or service,
  2. Creating a shared space for conversations,
  3. Telling stories of the near future, using existing capabilities, technologies and resources,
  4. Creating actual artifacts that users can interact with in formats and “feel” the future.

The Design Fiction Lab is a space that’s non-threatening and empowering to allow for experimentation without fear of being judged. The lab includes distributed physical and virtual jointly-owned, distributed infrastructure resources, panel of interdisciplinary experts, possibilitarian members, … (Reference below)

The Design Fiction Co-lab at Ideafarms
Google Map link of the Design Fiction Co-Lab:

Going forward …

Progressing towards creating a portfolio list of possible Projects, People, Platforms, Processes, Techniques and Tools —


This amazing Ted Talk by Simone Giertz, captures the mindsets we need to go forward in visualising futures. “The true beauty of making useless things [is] this acknowledgment that you don’t always know what the best answer is,” Giertz says. “It turns off that voice in your head that tells you that you know exactly how the world works.”

Why you should make useless things


Design Fiction Example — Mediated Deception
  1. Mediated Deception —Here’s a great example by Jiaojiao
    It happens after Jess’s fifth attempt to find someone from ‘ScientificMatch’: an online dating service, is sentenced: failure. The algorithm of the service claims to find someone scientifically and efficiently. But it seems not work out for her, even though she followed carefully to submit all her profile data: Facebook, Instagram and Hometa: her connected home data, which represents her daily routine, her personal taste and some of the interpretations even herself cannot understand.
  2. Healthwatch — Epidemic Surveillance and Management Platform
    Epidemics are medical disasters that recur year after year in almost the same pattern, yet we have not found a way to manage them efficiently even if we can see them coming. The key to predicting and proactively managing epidemics, viz. arresting the speed and spread of diseases, is working with timely and location-specific data that are actionable.
  3. Virtual Reality disrupting education—See the story of the Pilot (2017)
Emerging economies need inclusive education for the large percentage of their populations that can neither afford conventional education nor fit it into the contexts of their lives and livelihoods. Can Virtual Reality be a leveler? Can this ‘elitist’ technology be a game changer in bringing education to their doorsteps?

There’s something to be said about immersive experiences. Until you’ve gotten out of your head into a headset, there’s nothing that comes even close to experiencing the richness of ‘being in the scene without ever leaving your present location’.

Manyata felt that Virtual Reality could become a game-changer in taking education to the masses while, at the same time, keeping it close to the cultural context of these communities. Rich, entertaining content would engage them in ways traditional classroom content could never. At least that was her thesis and she wanted to test it “in the real world with real people.”

The Circle of Life

At present we are identifying communities and their likely problems to look for possibilities leading to opportunities for the Design Fiction Co-lab. Our social responsibility philosophy can be seen here —

What we are NOT doing (and don’t plan to) is getting deep into execution of any of the above.

This ongoing experiment—more exactly the journey of experimentation-led entrepreneurship over the last 35 years—has taught me that not everybody needs to do everything. We have also sensed the huge opportunities on the other side of possibility and that exploration needs wonder and trust.

How I can help you (+ a way to connect directly)

I’m based out of New Delhi / Gurugram in the National Capital Region of India, a country which is a contradiction in itself. My company Ideafarms, owns physical infrastructure, knowledge resources, skills and an expansive local and international network which can be made accessible to members and affiliates of the Design Fiction Co-lab. (Connect with me on twitter @sunilmalhotra or by using the comment fields below. Contacts coming soon))

How you can help me (+ a way to connect directly)

Please start by critiquing and providing feedback AND build on the idea. Let’s start with conversations here and at The School of Possibilities. We need to build a governance structure and a distributed collaboratory for which I invite your interest as well as resources you can volunteer. I welcome you to the Design Fiction Co-lab.

Sunil Malhotra

For more information contact Lab Director [Sunil Malhotra email].