A selection of Design Fiction references

In a previous post about design friction, I talk about a design fiction bibliography. Here it is thanks to Niclas Nova. I might post an updated version in a couple of months – find the original here.

  • Auger, J. (2011). Alternative Presents and Speculative Futures: Designing fictions through the extrapolation and evasion of product lineages., Negotiating Futures / Design Fictions, Swiss Design Network 2011, Basel.
  • Auger, J. (2013). Speculative design: crafting the speculation, Digit. Creat., vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 11–35, 2013.
  • Bassett, C., Steinmuller, E. & Voss, G. (2013). Better Made Up: The Mutual Influence of Science fiction and Innovation”, Nesta Working Paper 13/07.
  • Bleecker, J. (2009). Design fiction: A short essay on design, science, fact and fiction, Near Future Laboratory, Los Angeles, CA,
  • Bleecker, (2011). Design Fiction: From Props To Prototypes, Negotiating Futures / Design Fictions, Swiss Design Network 2011, Basel.
  • Bleecker, J. & Nova, N., (2009). A synchronicity: Design Fictions for Asynchronous Urban Computing. The Architectural League of New York, New York, NY.
  • Candy, S. (2010).  The futures of everyday life: politics and the design of experiential scenarios, PhD thesis. The University of Hawai.
  • DiSalvo, Carl. (2012). Spectacles and Tropes: Speculative Design and Contemporary Food Cultures. The Fibreculture Journal(20).
  • Dunne, A. & Raby, F. (2011). Design noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2001.
  • Dunne, A. & Raby, F. (2014). Speculative Everything: design, fiction and social dreaming. MIT Press.
  • Forlano, L. (2013). Ethnographies from the Future: What can ethnographers learn from science fiction and speculative design?, Ethnography Matters.
  • Franke, B. (2011). Design Fiction is Not Necessarily About the Future, Negotiating Futures / Design Fictions, Swiss Design Network 2011, Basel.
  • Galloway, A. (2013). Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design, Ethnography Matters.
  • Grand, S. & Wiedmer, M. (2010). Design Fiction: A Method Toolbox for Design Research in a Complex World, DRS, 2010.
  • Hales, D. (2013). Design fictions an introduction and provisional taxonomy, Digital Creativity, 24:1, 1-10
  • Jain, A., Ardern, J. & Pickard, J. (2012). Design Futurescaping, Journal of Futures Studies.
  • Johnson, B.D. (2009). “Science Fiction Prototypes Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying about the Future and Love Science Fiction”, in Intelligent Environments 2009 – Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Intelligent Environments, Callaghan, V., Kameas, A., Reyes, A., Royo, D., Weber, M. (Eds.), IOS Press, Barcelona pp. 3-8.
  • Johnson, B.D. (2011). “Love and God and Robots: The Science Behind the Science Fiction Prototype “Machinery of Love and Grace””, in Workshop Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Intelligent Environments Augusto, J. C., Aghajan, V., Callaghan, V., Cook, D. J., O’Donoghue, J., Egerton, S., Gardner, M., Johnson, B. D., Kovalchuk, Y., López-Cózar, R., Mikulecký, P., Ng, J. W. P., Poppe, R., Wang, M. J., Zamudio, V. (Eds.), IOS Press, Nottingham pp. 99-127.
  • Kirby, D. (2010). The future is now: Diegetic prototypes and the role of popular films in generating real-world technological development. Social Studies of Science 40 (1), pp. 41-70.
  • Kirby, D., 2011 Lab coats in Hollywood: science, scientists and cinema. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Morrison, A. (2014). Design Prospects: Investigating Design Fiction via a Rogue Urban Drone, In Proceedings of DRS 2014 Conference. Umeå, Sweden.: 16.06.2014–19.06.2014
  • Raford, Noah. (2012). From Design to Experiential Futures, The Future of Futures: The Association of Professional Futurists.
  • Shedroff N. & Noessel C. (2012). Make It So Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction. San Francisco: Rosenfeld.
  • Sterling, B. (2009), Design Fiction, Interactions 16 (3), pp. 20-24.
  • Ward, M. (2013). Design Fiction as Pedagogic Practice Towards a fictionally biased design education, Medium.
  • Zeller, L. (2011) What You See Is What You Don’t Get: Addressing Implications of Information Technology through Design Fiction” Lecture Notes in Computer Science 6770  pp. 329-336.

Design friction and other design fiction terminologies

After a chat with my former teacher and friend Nicolas Nova on design fiction terminologies I had the pleasure to receive from him a list of references (pasted in this blogpost, he also posted them on his blog). At the start of the conversation were the idea of using the “design friction” appellation. We thought it were new, when we found it with Remy Bourganel, here at EnsadLab. However, as pointed by Nicolas, Monica Gaspar Mallol already talks about it in her paper “Displaying f(r)ictions. Design as cultural form of dissent”, presented at SDN2010 in Bâles, Switzerland.

Picture of Monica Gaspar Mallol presenting her paper at SDN 2010 (photo by the SDN team)
Picture of Monica Gaspar Mallol presenting her paper at SDN 2010 (photo by the SDN team)

I remember I attended this conference and made a student presentation with Leila Jacquet, as being part of HEAD media design master, at the time.

Gaspar Mallol, M. (2010). Displaying F(r)ictions (p. 112). Presented at the Proceedings of the Swiss Design Network Symposium, Bâles, Switzerland.

Paper’s abstract: Displaying f(r)ictions. Design as cultural form of dissent
This paper examines at close quarters the role of fictions in design, in order to push forward the scope and influence of critical discourses in design. It aims to raise a cross-disciplinary debate around the redefinition of the design profession and also around the practices of curating and reflecting on design. Main theoretical reference has been “The practice of Everyday Life” by French sociologist Michel de Certeau. Certeau’s work has influenced the thinking of three authors that were relevant to further elaborate this study: the combination between material culture, design history and gender studies by Judy Attfield; the theory on relational aesthetics developed by Nicholas Bourriaud and the thinking of Jacques Rancière, specially his notion of dissent as form of political subjectivity that can create new modes of sensing. In order to test its arguments the paper establishes two scenarios, where negotiations between reality and fiction take place: the home and the museum. On the one hand, representative examples of critical design are examined and put in dialogue with the theoretical positions. On the other hand, the paper examines the transformations that happen in the museum’s space, when displaying critical design becomes a kind of rehearsal for alternative ways of living. Two exhibitions were analysed: Wouldn’t it be nice… Wishful Thinking in Art and Design (Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich, 2008) and Out of the Ordinary: Spectacular Craft (V&A, London, 2008).

The final part of the paper discusses how such positions in design play a critical role in society, by setting up micro-situations of dissent (disagreement), and in doing so they generate new forms of sensing and making sense in contemporary living. Conclusions will point at the potential of these design fictions (understood as projections) and frictions (considered as irritations) in order to re-fabulate the commonplace.

Other terminologies
When looking more around this appellation of “design friction”, there is are much other people using it (send me a message @maxmollon, if you find something). Philippe Gargov (from the blog “pop-up urbain”) for instance, also proposed to use this expression in december 2013 – without updates since then, unfortunately. However lot of other appellations are used, some new ones that do not last (glitch fiction) and old ones that became classics (mainly critical design, design fiction and soon, speculative design).

Finally, as listed by Anthony Dunne, many practices gravitate around a similar approach:

Speculative design, Conceptual Design, Contestable Futures, Cautionary Tales, Activism, Design for debate, Design fiction, Discursive design, Interrogative Design, Probe design, Radical Design, Satire, Social Fiction...”

(Taken from personal communication, Dublin, February 03rd, 2012). Let’s add to this list, counterfactual & alternative histories, critical software (Fuller, 2003), critical technical practice (Agre, 1997), reflective design (Sengers, Boehner, David, & Kaye, 2005) and critical engineering (Oliver, Savičić, & Vasiliev, 2011).
This number of appellations shows that it is difficult to limit these approaches to only one “school” of practices, or one group of designers.

Research Through Design Fiction: Narrative in Real and Imaginary Abstracts

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Research Through Design Fiction: Narrative in Real and Imaginary Abstracts
Mark Blythe – Northumbria University Newcastle, UK

Abstract: This paper reflects on the uses of prototypes in “Research through Design” and considers “Design Fiction” as a technique for exploring the potential value of new design work. It begins with an analysis of Research through Design abstracts in the ACM digital library and identifies an emerging language and structure of papers in this emerging field. The abstracts: frame a problem space, introduce a study, often involving the deployment of a prototype, and conclude with considerations, reflections and discussion. This format is then pastiched in a series of design fictions written for a project investigating new and emerging forms of reproduction in Art. The fictions take the form of “imaginary abstracts” which summarize findings of papers that have not been written about prototypes that do not exist. It is argued that framing concept designs as fictional studies can provide a space for research focused critique and development.

Material Belief, BioJewellery Questionnaire

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I found this questionnaire from Kerridge. Good for inspiration.


For the record, Kerridge also works on public engagement around technology (and science) societal issues.

Kerridge, T. (2009). Does speculative design contribute to public engagement of science and technology? (pp. 1–18). Presented at the Proceedings of the Swiss Design Network Symposium, Lugano.


In the UK there is a considerable and growing body of scientists, funding councils,  scientific societies and science communicators from various professional backgrounds  who have taken on the task of engaging the public with science and technology  (Burchell, 2007; Wynne, 2006). Recent policy commitments to fund these diverse  projects have been linked to the ‘problem’ of perceptions of risk attached to outcomes of  contemporary technologies including biotechnology and nanotechnology (Kearnes et  al., 2006). In this paper I outline some ways in which design practices could contribute  to these commitments to the public engagement of science and technology, by focusing  on Material Beliefs, a project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research  Council 1. Additionally -­‐ and in the spirit of the conference theme of Multiple Ways -­‐ I  would like to cross over to Science and Technology Studies for some assistance with a  framework through which to stage a tentative and initial discussion of this contribution.

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The Poetics of Design Fiction

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Design fiction is an emergent field within HCI and interaction design the understanding of which ultimately relies, so we argue, of an integrative account of poetics and design praxis. In this paper we give such an account. Initially, a precise definition of design fiction is given by drawing on the theory of possible worlds found within poetics. Further, we offer a method of practicing design fiction, which relies on the equal integration of literary practice with design practice. The use of this method is demonstrated by 4 design projects from a workshop set up in collaboration with a Danish author. All of this substantiates our notion of a poetics of practicing design fiction, and through our critical examination of related work we conclude on how our approach contribute to HCI and interaction design.

Thomas Markussen & Eva Knutz

Kolding School of Design Aagade