Bruce Sterling claims that Julian Bleecker ‘invented the interesting term “design fictions”’?
A formal definition exists: “Design fiction is the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change.”
I stumbled across the Wired article from another Design Fiction article on http://www.experientia.com This article also has some terrific video examples!!!
Made me realise that there was a growing community of ‘DesFi’ and ‘Near Future’ design educators out in the world… so I should clarify that in 2009 I began teaching a Masters course in Australia that I called “Design Fictions”. I began using a blog to share findings and prototypes in 2011: http://designfictions.tumblr.com/ (this tumblr!)
I use the term ‘DesFi’ as a play on ‘SciFi’. In that ‘SciFi’ narratives and visualisations are fictional scenarios based on scientific discoveries and discussions. Im particularly interested in how the genre of ‘science fiction' can provide an example approach for design students to consider when they are conceptualising potential designs for future contexts.
The DesFi approach allows design students to put aside existing limitations… such as current issues around voice recognition, language translators or even access to personal data. These limitations are based in technical, political and sometimes ethical arguments that, although undeniably critical to design feasibility, can suspend design innovations if we only consider the policies, technologies and processes that exist right now.
My premise to the students is that such contemporary concerns may be solved by another discipline in the near or far future. Consequently, attitudes will shift, new technologies will emerge and the criteria and inventory for design specifications will change.
Limiting our design ideas to current issues may dilute the potential for innovation… but more importantly, by prototyping great imaginative design solutions, we can increase the demand for change through demonstrating the possibilities that emerge from overcoming the conditions and contingencies of designing products for only todays market and todays user.
As a designer, Ive always enjoyed allowing some of my ideas to follow a ‘what if?’ tangent… this can take me on a journey to a ridiculous, and sometimes subversive place… or I can end up landing somewhere fantastic and inspired. Either way, something new and un-expected is bound to be found.
When I enable students to follow these DesFi tangents to a prototype stage… the discoveries are always dramatic… yet they can always be re-imagined and re-specified to be installed in current contexts. They may lose some of the ‘fantastic’… but they will always keep parts of the concepts that would not have been explored if they hadn’t travelled on the DesFi tangent.