Today designers often focus on making technology easy to use, sexy, and consumable. In Speculative Everything, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby propose a kind of design that is used as a tool to create not only things but ideas. For them, design is a means of speculating about how things could be—to imagine possible futures. This is not the usual sort of predicting or forecasting, spotting trends and extrapolating; these kinds of predictions have been proven wrong, again and again. Instead, Dunne and Raby pose “what if” questions that are intended to open debate and discussion about the kind of future people want (and do not want).
Speculative Everything offers a tour through an emerging cultural landscape of design ideas, ideals, and approaches. Dunne and Raby cite examples from their own design and teaching and from other projects from fine art, design, architecture, cinema, and photography. They also draw on futurology, political theory, the philosophy of technology, and literary fiction. They show us, for example, ideas for a solar kitchen restaurant; a flypaper robotic clock; a menstruation machine; a cloud-seeding truck; a phantom-limb sensation recorder; and devices for food foraging that use the tools of synthetic biology. Dunne and Raby contend that if we speculate more—about everything—reality will become more malleable. The ideas freed by speculative design increase the odds of achieving desirable futures.
About the Authors
Anthony Dunne is Professor and Head of Interaction Design at the Royal College of Art. He is also a Partner in the design practice Dunne & Raby, London.
Fiona Raby is Professor of Industrial Design at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, and Reader in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art.
“In Speculative Everything Dunne and Raby continue to inspire and challenge us to consider design as a unique mode of sociocultural inquiry. Rather than resigning design to either problem solving or styling, what Dunne and Raby offer is a vibrant practice of using design to materialize and experiment with alternate worldviews and futures. Speculative Everything is an important contribution to the field of design and should be read widely.”
—Carl DiSalvo, author of Adversarial Design
“In a period where existing systems are reaching their effective limits, Speculative Everything describes an expanded and refreshing role for design. Dunne and Raby show how speculative design can stimulate debate and reveal choices that exist beyond the constraints of existing business, social, and technological approaches.”
—Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO
“Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby have set out to change the landscape of contemporary design. They remind us that design is about asking questions, as well as answering them. Speculative Everything, their provocative manifesto, is an intriguing contribution to the search for a new direction for design.”
—Deyan Sudjic, Director, Design Museum, London