In the final chapter of Speculative Everything, Dunne and Raby address the vast multitudes of realities that make up the world we live in, as well as the multitudes that shape those realities themselves. The very concept of design is a collection of seemingly endless multitudes that interact and are related to one another in various ways, but for their purposes, the authors are focused on drawing comparisons between just two fields- speculative design and design thinking. The most notable difference being that design thinking is concerned with fixing tangible problems we face today- the “official reality” as they put it- while speculative design is more of a form of dissent in regard to the traditional role that design usually plays. Instead of concerning itself with the problems of the official reality, it is concerned with stepping back and offering new alternatives in a big-picture sort of way.
One word that has appeared frequently in our readings and discussions is utopia. The idea of a utopia is intrinsically tied to speculative design, and it’s one that I’ve personally always struggled with, as it seems like a far off dream to me especially in the context of design and the world we live in. It’s one of those “too good to be true” sort of things that I have always felt was out of our reach. However, thanks to some of the research conducted for this class, I’ve seen evidence that something like a real utopia could and has existed, and many countries around the world have implemented new structures to help steer their communities in that direction. My main point of contention still stands though- with upwards of 7.5 billion people in the world, is a utopia of any kind even attainable? This is where I find Dunne and Raby’s thoughts on micro-utopias particularly interesting, as it seems a much more viable approach given the wide variety of people in the world and the values and beliefs that shape each of their realities.
Dunne and Raby’s analysis of speculative design and design thinking is just one of many perspectives that can be taken with design, as evidenced by Cameron Tonkinwise’s article on Medium. Tonkinwise takes a rather hard approach to the way that design has become split up into various fields almost like genres of music. He breaks down and analyzes the nature of what designers do and how that can be applied to other things, and vice-versa. While I don’t agree entirely with every point the author makes, I do agree with the overall sentiment that such categorization in a field as versatile as design seems a bit counter-intuitive. Although simply naming and constructing a practice to become an entity in and of itself isn’t necessarily a tangible obstacle, it’s the context within which those practices exist that becomes the issue. As I mentioned previously, design is full of multitudes that coexist and interact with each other in unique and varied ways, and to put barriers between them seems superfluous to me. I believe that the fewer barriers we have, both in design and within our own realities and world, the more likely we are to make positive change. But, maybe that’s just me. Designers are known to be optimistic.