I am currently reading the book “Speculative Everything” written by Anthony Dune & Fiona Ray. The book discusses conceptual design and how it is used as a critical medium for discovering many new possibilities and developments over a wide range of fields. The book so far has covered furniture design, industrial design, architecture, fashion and everything in-between. What the book mainly focuses on is speculative design and how that relates to all pre-mentioned areas of design and aims those areas towards a better possible future. Going off of the premise of the book my initial reaction was mixed. Design in general is a new area of study for me but I am really enjoying learning this new field and understanding different ways to approach it. My mixed feelings are promoted by the fact that the book itself is a bit to speculative. Although I agree with most of what the authors are saying, I personally do not think that every area of design should be approached in such an abstract way. In the first chapter of the book the authors quote Fredric Jameson saying “It is now easier for us to imagine the end of the world than an alternative to capitalism. Yet alternatives are exactly what we need” (loc 49). Following this quote the author goes on to explain that most design is “problem solving” at its core and that we need to focus more on the “unfixable” problems in society. Therefore, if we change our values, beliefs, and behaviors it will help us open our minds and become a new generation of “problem solving” designers. Although this is an abstract approach to design I definitely appreciate what this approach. We as a society focus entirely too much on fixing current problems rather than imagining future problems. If we open our imaginations and put our biased opinions aside we will have a better understanding of design and how it fits into our future. Dune and Ray mention that “all design to some extent is future oriented”(loc 67) and go on to explain how future predictions; specifically regarding technology, are usually not effective when it comes to conceptual design. The authors state, “What we are interested in though is the idea of possible futures and using them as tools to better understand the present and to discuss the kind of future people want, and of course, ones people do not want”(Loc 63). My understanding of this is as follows: if we approach design with fictional questions rather than potential problems, it will open our imaginations in a way that enables us to better envision a more abstract future. By approaching design in this new speculative form, it allows us to imagine designs that will better serve the inevitable fictitious future.
Source: (Dune, Anthony & Ray, Fiona. Speculative Everything. The MIT Press, 2013. Ebook)