Speculative design – tutoring the 3rd year design students

I am fascinated by speculative design. It is a powerful tool that helps to conceptualize and visualize possible futures to gain a better understanding of the present. That is why I was extremely enthusiastic about the opportunity to tutor the speculative design semester for 3rd-year students.

The project consisted of eleven lessons, during which I was responsible for conceptualizing the project and providing guidance as a tutor. In the first six lessons, the students focused on developing concepts and design ideas. We used various speculative design methodologies to aid in researching, conceptualizing, and visualizing.

We began the project with the “future wheel” where students extracted articles from newspapers and speculated on potential consequences using the wheel. This methodology provided an overview of the possibilities related to current topics.

Another methodology was the narrative arc. Students created 3D paper models of possible outcomes and recorded interactions between the user (represented by a playmobil puppet) and their models. This method allowed them to explore interactions and the stories conveyed by their designs.

In the second half of the project, the focus shifted to design and production, and the lessons often took place in workplaces.

During classroom sessions, we employed different brainstorming techniques to discuss the designs. One of the methodologies used was “point reflection,” where students stepped out of their situations to assess their own actions and designs from a distance and a different perspective.

The projects were diverse, ranging from physical visualizations of the metaverse, lamps adjusting their color to the user’s feelings, school furniture designed to aid ADHD pupils’ focus, to a story centered around the discovery of a new religion.

The students showcased their finalized projects in an exhibition outside of the academy, which took place at Brack in Breda. Organizing this exhibition was an integral part of the semester, and each lesson included discussions on presentation and organization.