Reading Response 1 / Severin Hackspiel

The book “Speculitive Everything” was about how to define critical design and in which context is should be set in. Mainly the biggest problem of critical design is the separation from design and art. That it is not one of them, but is deeply connected to both. Its problem that design is highly functional and non-critical and art is this only sometimes. So probably critical design is highly critical and non-functional art, which is used to focus and to invoke thought about how to live and in which future you want to live in.

It does that by using many technics which are found in other futurology fields, but it has more of an hypothetical approach to what could be than future predictions used in the industry.  It`s trying more to show real implications of living in an utopia or dystopia than showing what they really are. Also critical design products should be set in plausible futures more than in possible ones to connect more to the user.

Mainly the critic is, that today’s design doesn`t create as freely as architectural design, transportation design or graphic design in which there are more prototypes and non-functional future predictions to test our taste. These taste testers are used to look in which directions their designs language should go in the future. Some of them are critical about what they are forecasting, but many just do it to show how they envision the physical manifestations of their predictions.

So why we don`t see this done often with products and services? Probably it is too easy to create one of them, but bringing them into reality is much more expensive than just printing a poster. Also probably the abundance of designers in those other profession are making it much more crucial to distinct themselves from each other. This drive creates more future predictions and pro-bono work because they want to be hired and a company is looking for distinct styles and\or directions designers are thinking in. So to get a job they do have to do fictional work which are not based in present developments.

This is different for product and industrial designer which way more asked and probably only seen as designer which make a product more beautiful and not more capable. As this prejudice is changing more and more to a state in which it is seen what ID and PD can really do, there will be more tendencies to ask ID and PD to also think about problems of the future.

So if you want to create a critical design piece the main priority should be, to search an future prediction. One of my favorites is “City of slaves” from “Atelier van Lieshout” in which the artist collective is trying to predict a fully autarch community of 50.000 people. They`re taking the premise of having no footprint on the outer world to the extreme by predicting that everything is made out of human material. From food to the building blocks of the houses. They invented a chart in which human are categorized based on if they are smart, edible or healthy. By showing a new reality in which only the sole reference point is what you can contribute physically to a community they ask if we really want to have future built on this premise. They extended it into a whole art exhibition about that idea and had a lot of manifestations in different fields.

Showing extremes can be a good way to invoke thought and should be a way to connect to people. Showing them a vision which is plausible but so strange to imagine happing in the real world invokes the thought on how we could achieve or prevent this possibility.

Reading Response 1 / Astrid Otero

    Speculative Everything seems like the type of book that you approach with a highlighter and end up highlighting most of the text. I enjoy books that are challenging, offer new perspectives, confront your definition of certain practices and terms, and give insights into concepts you weren’t necessarily aware of. The idea that “dreams have been downgraded to hopes” was one that particularly struck me, because who would think HOPE is disadvantageous? I’ve always categorized hopes and dreams into one bucket, yet here is this strong statement calling out hope for being passive and the call to action is to dream. Aren’t people usually yelling at our pessimistic society to be hopeful again? If we look at the documentary Before the Flood, for example, it’s narrated through this pessimistic lens of a dying earth (aka a fact) and the film is supposed to speak to decisions we can still make to not kill the earth as quickly and that’s where our hope can lie. As Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby continue, they talk about how design became fully integrated into the neoliberal model of capitalism making all other types of design viewed as economically unviable and therefore irrelevant. This approach to design thinking, therefore, asks of us to imagine better ways to participate as citizen-consumers and question our reality, especially when compared to ideals.

The article Are You Ready to Consider Capitalism Is the Real Problem? was an interesting read. It certainly provoked a few questions as I was going through it, so I enjoyed it in that sense. The Fast Company article spoke on the issues with capitalism, primarily on how profit trumps life. This idea that capitalism is so engrained in our society that we can’t engage with any challenges to the status quo was interesting to see play out on a national politics level. My initial thought when Nancy Pelosi dismissed Trevor Hill was something along the lines of, “this isn’t a debate with your conservative parents, this is a thoughtful question with research to back it up asked to a ‘servant of the people!’” As it went on, I wished the article had made points on the benefits of capitalism, especially for the United States, because ignoring that somewhat discredited the article, but there were interesting points made. I question if greed is the real issue and if capitalism is just a rather easy segway into greed, more so than other economic systems? Or is the bigger issue with capitalism its practical desire to make money and hence exclude anything that isn’t profitable/problem-solving based design?

Reading Response 1 / Adam Stafford

The conceptual nature of speculative design, and speculative design in and of itself, is a bit confusing if you ask me. As a design student in the fourth year of DAAP’s graphic design program, one thing that has been emphasized seemingly above all others is design’s power to address and solve problems, from simple, everyday issues to larger, more global ones. You could imagine the sense of surprise and shock I felt when presented with the idea that speculative design is entirely uninterested with solving problems, given that up to this point problem solving has been the name of the game. Much of this comes from the “built-in” optimism that comes with traditional design, however, too much optimism can be blinding, like denial.

So if speculative design isn’t interested in problem solving, then what is it interested in?

The best answer I’ve been able to develop so far is that, if problem solving is the goal of traditional design, then alternatives are the goal of speculative design. Instead of addressing and experimenting with the way things are, speculative design is about addressing other possibilities altogether. The reason for this is that by trying to solve a problem, we often fall into the trap of trying to predict the future- something that is, of course, impossible for humans to do. Speculative design is not interested in “the future” as we know it. It discards the idea of trying to “pin down” the future, and instead asks what possible future(s) could look like, emphasis on the parenthetical s. Instead of would worrying about how the future could be, speculative design asks how the future should be.

One bit of the reading that resonated loud and clear is that it is especially hard to speculate imaginatively in today’s modern world, however I cannot speak to the events the led to this or previous states of possible speculation. We must accept the impossible and embrace the fact that we simply cannot predict how the future will turn out, and instead we must use our imaginations as a tool to speculate with. This is especially true of our current economic model, as evidenced by the Fredric Jameson quote that, “it is now easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” This idea should be a wake up call to everyone, and although the message does not resonate with all, it is clear that many people both in the US around the globe have grown skeptical of capitalism. It is time to start imagining ideas for alternatives to the dog-eat-dog system that seems to have a firm grasp on our society and place more emphasis on the health and prosperity of our neighbors around the world instead of just the bottom line.

Reading Response 01/Andy Millard

Through reading the first three chapters of Speculative Everything, the author’s Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby help us dream up new alternatives to capitalism. Through contemporary art, communication design, industrial design, fashion design, and architecture, Dunne and Raby explore past projects of some of the most conceptual & critical artists and designers.

In the school of design and also through CO—OP we are taught to problem solve. After reading the first three chapters of Speculative everything, it has been brought to my attention that not all things can be fixed. That things like branding, identity, and other stylistic “things” are meaningless compared to the vast problems we are facing in the world today. A very important quote to be taken away from Beyond Radical Design is; “It is impossible to continue with the methodology employed by the visionary designers of the 1960s and 1970s. We live in a very different world now but we can reconnect with that spirit and develop new methods appropriate for today’s world and once again begin to dream.

But to do this, we need more pluralism in design, not of style but of ideology and values.”

The most interesting part of A Map of Unreality is this; “Conceptual designs are not conceptual because they haven’t yet been realized or are waiting to be realized but out of choice. They celebrate their unreality and take full advantage of being made from ideas.” When you think about it this way, the freedom to create something extravagantly experimental is more than possible and should be encouraged. In my opinion, the CO—OP program holds us back from experimentation. We are being trained to design for consumers, this way we can graduate and get jobs… but, what does the future look like without experimentation?

The Idea of Martí Guixé’s, The Solar Kitchen Restaurant for Lapin Kulta seems so fascinating. To know that there is no guarantee you will have your food in the next hour, or even several hours or at all, and to be ok with that is amazing. To respect the process and for everyone to know and understand that resources are so limited would be beautiful.

In a perfect world, we would all share the same values. We would come together as consumers and protest this world of capitalism. Unfortunately people love money, it is the root of all and people feel as if they need it in order to live a happy wholesome life. But what is a wholesome life? what is happiness? what are all of these things? can we create them without the extravagant use of money? It is up to us as designers to brainstorm possibilities for the future, to think speculatively & conceptually and to understand that we may not be able to predict the future, but through our process we can help create a more probable future.


Click here for interesting exhibition by contemporary artist Rirkrit Tiravanija

Reading Response 1 / Margot Harknett

In the article Speculative Everything the likelihood cone model I found very interesting and relative to what we consider as designers and also in our future as humanity. The idea is having each cone represent the possible, plausible, probable, and ultimately the preferable fanning out in an order or varying degrees so that the preferable option is angled up, reaching into the plausible and possible. When we look at design in this way it opens up areas where we are able to step into conceptual design and create fictional situations to better our lives and the world around us. That is only achieved if we step away from the marketplace of how our world is run on capitalism.

The article Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem, really drives home the fact that millennial are coming in tune with the world around them and are realizing that we won’t move forward unless we use a more collectivism approach to the way we run society. Pointing at the fact that what hinders us from a beneficial life for all is the distribution of power and wealth to big businesses. Decisions are made based off of profit more than the wellbeing of society.

The Rules article discusses the fact that instead of a politician we elected a businessman. This just hits on the point again that we run on a mindset that profit and money drive everything. At the same time it makes note that since we elected a businessman like Trump it proves that as a nation we are unhappy with the political system we currently have. The article talks about how working as a community, relying on our own hands rather than some higher political or economical figure we can build more of a creative growing world away from the media and mainstream politics.

The article I chose to relate to these was Capitalism Needs Design Thinking, an interview with Tim Brown and Roger Martin in IDEO. In it they discuss how what we have in the government today is not working, why it’s not working, and what needs to be changed. They point out the flaw that we keep seeing when they say, “What we’re working on now is the upside-down thesis—which postulates that government investment in a piece of infrastructure gets perverted and ends up not benefiting the folks it was designed for.” They follow that up by saying if the government worked the way design thinking works then things would go through ideations and ultimately be assessed by the user until it works. All of these articles related to the fact that the design process, “preferable” outcomes, and creative growth in the community cannot stem from a capitalist way of distributing power and praying off profit.



Reading Response One // Heather Weyda

In the first chapters of Speculative Everything the idea of designing for non-capitalistic needs is presented as a way to provide critique and commentary on our everyday lives. Creating design that isn’t necessarily trying to point out flaws in the way things are, but simply trying to make you think about why things are that way. It’s not designing in order to create a solution, but designing in order to generate and inspire more ideas. This “critical design” is meant to point out and present possible futures as a way to reflect on the directions that society could quite possibly be headed, whether it be good or bad. While arguing that radical design is a vital and powerful tool Dunne and Raby state that there are four reasons as to why design that is imaginative, social, and political have become more rare and somewhat unlikely. The first being that design has been hyper-commercialized and seen mainly as a way to sell products. The second being that recently we have seen many examples of non-capitalistic governments result in national tragedies. It’s hard to convince, or even simply show, people that there are other decent ways to live when they’ve lived in a time where they’ve seen the alternatives fail. Thirdly, society has become more about the individual in the sense that people are more likely to do things because they want to do them and encourages people to look out for themselves rather than society as a whole. Lastly is that people do not dream anymore. It’s argued in this book that we have downgraded our dreams into hopes. People do not strive for greatness they just hope that their life is a good one and it’s kept at that. Not only are these reasons as to why radical design has become more diminished, but I also believe these are reasons as to why we need more speculative design.

While the article Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem? isn’t shy about its bias, it does bring up an interesting idea of what would life be after capitalism. If so many people are unhappy with the current state of our capitalistic society when why isn’t anything being done about it? Does it go back to Dunne and Raby’s idea that the wounds are still too fresh from previous socialist attempts? It’s an interesting concept that in today’s time is almost unfathomable. This article suggests that ideally society will make a shift from putting value on individuals based on the amount of capital they have and put more emphasis on their meaning of life and well-being. It’s also suggested that capitalism is a main source of inequality in that most people believe that it is a largely unfair system. Another point made in this article is that capitalism encourages and rapidly increases the depletion of our resources and the demise of the environment. This argument is continued by saying that we, as a society, put more value on money than we do the planet’s well-being.

I found an interesting website that estimates the percent chance of your job being replaced by a robot. This concept itself is a speculative design. It asks the question of what would happen if AI becomes so dynamic that it will replace our need to work? It presents more questions than answers and allows for the user to ask “what if?”

Reading Response 1 | Emily Schaefer

The first few chapters of Speculative Everything was a very inspiring read, and an excellent intro to the class and speculative design! The first chapter started by talking about the power of dreams, and how we can use them to look at how to progress our world through an imaginary lense. Dunne and Raby explain how they are interested in using “what if” questions in their design, to spark debate on what the future could look like, for better or worse. I really aligned with the statement that ideas are what we need today, more than ever. Something also that I found interesting was their talk about “Dark Design”. Dark Design aims to trigger shifts in perspective and under standing that open spaces for as-of-yet, unthought-of possibilities. I feel that as a motion designer, I play in the realm of dark design quite a bit, when trying to create a piece that makes the audience feel un-easy. What I didn’t know is that I could also use this skill in the realm of speculative design, and not just entertainment purposes. Another point that was presented is how “art” and critical design aren’t the same, even though they borrow ideas from each other. I find it a very hard line to draw between the two sometimes. On one end of the spectrum, if the idea you show is “too safe” people will dismiss it as art, and I feel that this is exactly the realm that we’re in as DAAP students. As a student, none of the end result projects are REAL enough to be speculative design, even if the project makes you think critically. I’m excited to see where this class takes us.

The Article: “Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?” written by Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk, is a bold piece that explains how our current system (capitalism) is being less accepted by young adults, who are looking for an alternative solution. The authors claim that our current leaders are misleading us to think that our search for a better system “isn’t possible” and that capitalism is the only answer. However, the numbers of us who believe that we can do better seem to be growing (as seen through polling). The part of this article that hit me the most was: “…What becomes clear here is that ours is a system that is programmed to subordinate life to the imperative of profit….It all proceeds from the same deep logic. It’s the same logic that sold lives for profit in the Atlantic slave trade, it’s the logic that gives us sweatshops and oil spills, and it’s the logic that is right now pushing us headlong toward ecological collapse and climate change.” Even though this is an obviously biased and persuasive piece, this paragraph in particular spoke a lot of truth, as money is the root of all evil, and coincidentally, is also the root of capitalism.

I feel that this cartoon accurately sums up the article by Hickel & Kirk. It hints at the over-use of natural resources, and how the older generation is leaving us behind to deal with the messes they left behind.

Reading Response #1/Rachel Adkins

At the most basic level of definition, speculative design refers to the rejection of current reality in favor of exploring alternative fictions that arise from questions, concerns, and ideals put forth by designers who are looking to conceptualize a world that “could be”. Speculative design lives mostly in the world of the imagination. When these ideas do take a physical form it is typically by way of abstract objects or constructions meant to represent the notion, rather than provide a functional solution to the problem or idea at hand.

It is important to understand that speculative design is inherently different from commercial or humanitarian design in the fact that it does not seek to make the world “better”. Most facets of design are mainly concerned with creating things that are good, that provide some kind of user benefit and facilitate positive worldly changes, but the reality is that global problems can no longer be solved by product innovation. Designers are currently too focused on designing towards a brighter future, but therein lies the problem that speculative design aims to address: how can we truly say we are designing for the future if we’re only preparing ourselves for one version of that future. Speculative design is about freedom of question and exploration, and allowing designers the creative space to think critically about all possible future scenarios we may one day find ourselves in the midst in, even if that scenario verges (or fully plunges) into unreality.

One of the main reasons that speculative design is a relatively small and isolated avenue of work is the overhanging hindrance of capitalism. The world of design is driven by capitalist ideology; designers in all areas do what they do in order to fuel the never-ending cycle of capital production. If an idea/object/product is not being made for market, it is seen as fundamentally less valuable, and therefore does not deserve the same funding, research, or public exposure as commercial design.

The State of Fashion 2017” report published by Business of Fashion McKinsey&Company provides, in detail, examples of the wide range of ways in which the fashion industry is owned and run by a capitalist agenda. Only mere hours after finishing “Speculative Everything” and “Are You Ready to Consider that Capitalism is the Real Problem?” I was faced with this document that is the apparent antithesis of everything that speculative design presents. “The State of Fashion 2017” is a sterile look at capitalism in action, and presents answers to every misgiving and failing within the fashion industry as neatly packaged business proposals to reinvigorate lackluster market performance. Though its content is not surprising, as designers are generally well aware of how their respective field operate within the capitalist agenda, it provides a clear example of how the core of speculative design will be at odds with the expectations of a capitalist society until an alternative economic structure can be proposed.




Reading Response 1 / Niyah Jackson

The first few chapters of Speculative Design covered a wide range of topics from defining what the term is and what it is not, to examples of conceptual design, and a call-to-action to the reader to consider this method of design thinking. Below are some of the highlights that stood out to me from the text.

There’s an interesting idea that was introduced stating that we’ve stopped dreaming and have just settled for hope (ie. Hope that we will still survive on this planet). The author’s shed a positive light on this and challenge the reader to use speculative design to imagine and open new perspectives on societal problems rather than get stuck in believing that they are unfixable. This leads into the main message of the reading which was: instead of having the mindset of: “is that realistic”, we should be asking “what should reality look like” and design into that. Speculative design is thinking of scenarios that could lead to a desired future. It’s not about predicting the future, but about questioning design and making a malleable reality for the future.

The text went on to reveal that the high point of radical design was in the 1970s, before the commercialization of everything in order to generate wealth (capitalism) became popular in the 1980s. Since then design has been mostly “affirmative” which is the opposite of this theory. Affirmative design is when it aligns with the status quo.

There’s a difference between designers who showcase their brand values/personal identifies on the runway like the “we all should be feminists” t-shirts and designer’s who challenge social norms through the concept of the clothing like Hussein Chayalan with his airplane dress. One is more conceptual, not meant to be sold necessarily or worn, but to get people to challenge themselves in the way they think. Furniture is another example of this. It is the area where most conceptual activity happens; it’s not always meant to be mass produced but showcased in a gallery or museum. Again, with architecture some great conceptual ideas never get actualized.

One example of conceptual design that stood out to me was the example of the restaurant where people can come to socialize, but they order their food from their phones via the internet as “take out” and have it delivered to the space. This got me thinking about other ideas that haven’t been fully implemented but got people taking about a possible future. Cycflix is one of them. Created by a student named Ronan Byrne at the Dublin Institute of Technology, it’s a stationary bike that streams Netflix as long as you’re pedaling. It’s a guilt-free way of binge watching TV since you’re also getting exercise simultaneously. According to the Cosmopolitan article on the invention, “If you stop moving for too long, a warning sign will appear on screen to tell you are going to slow and Netflix will stop playing until you start to move your feet again.” The bike is just a prototype though, although Byrne has given detailed instructions on how to replicate it oneself.

The authors made it clear that it’s not enough for speculative design to exist, it should also serve a purpose and be useful to the betterment of our society. I think Cycflix falls in line with this sentiment.

To sum up, I like the point they made about it not being just about design. Design is one way to bring about change in the world, but protests and boycotts could be more effective. Being a citizen can have more impact than being a designer. It’s important not to put ourselves on a pedestal. This is exemplified in this quote… my favorite from the reading: “The most threatening act of protest for a capitalist system would be for its citizens to refuse to consume.” While it may seem innocent enough to purchase a chair, as demonstrated in the Fast Company article, “Are You Ready to Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem,” that exchange of money for the mass produced chair multiplied by the impact it has on nature including the loss of rainforests, etc. has led to our problem of climate change. This relates back to the idea that design can have severe implications which is why critical design is so important. The Fast Company article challenges readers to put a name to the problems of today (Keystone pipeline, poverty wages, etc.) as well as the problems In the past (Atlantic Slave Trade). That name being capitalism. Our greed to make more money is self depreciating. We’re putting money before people. And if we don’t do something about it, humans will no longer be able to exist, period.

Reading Response 01 / Jack Thrun

Capitalism is evil! Capitalism is the root of all the misfortunes in this world! Although these readings didn’t EXACTLY say those things, that was the general vibe I got when reading Speculative Everything and Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?.

In their article, Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk talk about the evils of capitalism. They even go as far as relating capitalism to the Atlantic slave trade. Hickel and Kirk talk about whats wrong with capitalism and describe what people are looking for but they fail to offer any possible solutions. Granted it’s a tough “problem” to solve, I would have expected at least some hint of an idea. When they mentioned how people want education to be a social good, it reminded me of a piece I read by Mike Rowe, Off The Wall: The Right of Free College. When asked why presidential candidates don’t talk about the necessity of training for the “trades,” Rowe suggested it may be “because most voters would prefer their kids get a four year degree from a university.” Rowe went on to say the stereotype that kids only attend trade schools because they’re not “college material” is “destroying economies large and small.” Instead of pushing the notion that you need to go to university in order to get a job, society needs to realize the value of trade schools and blue collar jobs. Why reinvent the wheel (capitalism) when seemingly simple solutions for a better economy are all around us?

Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby’s Speculative Everything, was less concerned with the “evils” of capitalism and instead focused more on how design can help foresee a future beyond capitalism. Being a meat and potatoes, classic industrial design guy, I found a lot of what I read to be a little strange. The examples provided in the text felt more like art rather than design. Making a statement or being provocative isn’t necessarily in the industrial design handbook. At its core, industrial design is the designing of products for mass production so it seems a little odd for an industrial designer to envision a world beyond capitalism. Because depending on what exactly comes after capitalism, industrial design might not even be a profession. However, when the authors started mentioning the likes of Mark Newson, Jasper Morrison, and Syd Mead, I was intrigued because I know these guys to be true industrial designers, with the exception of Syd Mead of course. Using their knowledge and background of product design, these designers were able to create futuristic concepts. Although these futures weren’t specific to the idea of “after capitalism,” their work made me realize that product design doesn’t always have to be about the practical solutions. It can be fun and totally blue-sky without being to “artsy.” The authors made a valid point about this though. It’s tough for designers and companies to put in the effort for this kind of design work when bills have to be paid and food needs to put on the table. Syd Mead was able to make a living on purely conceptual work because he was selling it to motion picture movies. Thats a job for a select few, including Daniel Simon, who in my mind is the modern day Syd.