Future thinking in a historic setting

Speculative design

The Houses of Commons provided a very historic and concrete setting for a discussion, yesterday evening, of ‘speculative design’ – the use of images, models or videos of far future scenarios to encourage research participants to give their responses to it. Speculative design is one of many tools the Policy Lab are introducing to civil servants, the rationale being that, while it can’t predict the future accurately, the very specific presentations in images and models help people focus their thinking far ahead. The picture shows presentation of a project led by the government’s Foresight Office, with consultants, Strange Telemetry, to investigate the impact of an aging society, as it might be experienced 40 years from now. The team used speculatively designed images to stimulate discussion of issues around work, mobility and service provision.

The event was interesting from an information design perspective, since it’s hard to imagine that a discussion group 40 years ago could have anticipated the instant access to information we have now,  the impact that has on everyday life and the design challenges it presents. Still the focus of yesterday’s event, on tools to stimulate future thinking, was an interesting one, and followed in a long tradition of designers reflecting on the most appropriate design methods to use in their projects.

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