How to Teach Students to Undesign?: Towards a Purpose-driven Design Education Through Speculative Design Frameworks


Speculative design practices (SDP), such as Speculative Design, Design Fiction, Discursive Design as well as scientific design methodologies are becoming increasingly popular within and outside design discourses. This popularity is often related to use design strategies, in order to tackle societal challenges such as climate change, gender equality or poverty. The nature of this practice is to “undesign” by using design as a strategic medium to question future developments rather than giving shape to commercial products, applications and services. As such, they also embody the intersection between, research, knowledge transfer and design, and contribute significantly to current questions about future job descriptions and roles for designer-researchers in academia and economy. Although these practices are on the rise, they are rarely taught as a discipline in European design schools. Yet they could be an important contribution to the design education of future professionals, answering the call for new roles and responsibilities of design in the context of global challenges. In contrast to mainly product-oriented courses, such as product design, media design etc, it calls for a change to a purpose-driven design curricula. This study therefore discusses the role of SDP in design training and questions how a change to a more sustainable design education can work. In their research, the authors are developing a methodological framework to implement SDP in interdisciplinary innovation processes and impact-oriented debates (Harles & Heidingsfelder 2021) and are currently exploring how such a framework can form the basis for more responsible educational models.


Lynn Harles
Design Researcher, CoDesign and Transferstrategies, Fraunhofer IAO, Germany

Marie Lena Heidingsfelder
Researcher and Team Lead, Fraunhofer CeRRI, Germany


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design Education



Digital Media

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