Speculative design is one of the forecasting methods focused around prototyping the future. Research focuses on the ‘what if’ question, the search for change, and designing an alternative reality.
The overriding goal is to create a platform for discussion and not to prepare specific solutions that can already be implemented today. Negating the status quo, encouraging people to imagine a completely different reality, may lead to more original conclusions and reflections. It provides a basis for creating breakthrough innovations and not just improving what we already know, how we function, what we offer. The research process consists of several related stages – from desk research analysis and signal based forecasting, through the development of concepts/prototypes, to the clash of recipients with projects. It is important that users/customers/residents can react to the future, feel it in practice. Thanks to this, we get feedback, generate a discussion, get to know the opinions.
What speculative design provides:
- bold, brave visions,
- discussions on future possibilities,
- feedback by confronting the recipients with created objects/processes/concepts of the future,
- going beyond existing patterns of perceiving problems, challenges, solutions,
- cooperation platform for the world of science, art, and business.
How we implement it:
The basis of well-executed speculative design is to build a wide cooperation platform. Each project is treated individually so, each time, we build a group of people with whom we work on the concepts of the future. We invite representatives of business, science, and art to cooperate with us. The synergy of activities occurring at the crossroads of different fields and sectors brings very interesting results. These results are presented at exhibitions, design festivals, and in public spaces in order to see how people react.
The ‘Office buildings of the future’ project is an example of interdisciplinary cooperation between a development company, a research centre, and a foresight institute. Based on the cultural, social and environmental, political and economic trends we developed, students of the Faculty of Architecture of the Gdańsk University of Technology undertook to design an office building that could function well in the future. The work was supposed to pay attention not only to the shape and body of the building but also to the search for ideas – the direction in which thinking about office buildings and the technologies used in it would develop. The concepts worked out included buildings made of microplastics, metamaterials, perovskites, filter membranes, and carbon fibre. Dynamic, modular objects, living in harmony with nature and self-sufficient. Underwater, underground, airborne, even located on Mars. The concepts were presented in the spaces of the Gdańsk University of Technology.
For example, the effects of speculative design under the ‘Bedroom of the Future’ project implemented in cooperation with IKEA and the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk were exhibited as part of the Gdynia Design Days and in one of the Tri-City office buildings, and Future of Food (in cooperation with Tesco and the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk) was presented, i.a. at Łódź Design Festival and Gdynia Design Days.