Conscious Speculative Design Practice through Community Participation


Speculative and Critical design has been framed as a design-led approach with an expert’s mindset. Following initial cultural probes work, design experts produce provocative outputs to generate debate between their audiences on what is a preferable outcome. But those provocations and implications are known for appealing more to sophisticated museums than to the communities they purpose to engage. What if we could create opportunities for a collaborative analysis of the probes and a co-design approach to these functional fictions? Would the outcomes be more effective and avoid common critiques of a WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) design practice? This paper sets an exploration of examples and methods of recent worldwide efforts to create more inclusive futures practices as a way to generate diverse and equitable design manifestations. Through that, a given community can feel empowered and identified, possibly increasing the discursive consequence and expanding the conversation beyond the community’s borders. The seminal examples of Speculative and Critical design tend to be dystopias, yet, recent participatory foresight and design futures practices frequently reflect a more optimistic vision of the co-designed futures. The futures tend to be protopias, not inherently good or bad, although they convey mixed views of what is desirable and what is not in the scenarios. Blurring the traditional boundaries of design expertise can be an approach to addressing complex challenges efficiently.


Hernani Alves
Student, PhD Candidate, IADE - Universidade Europeia, Lisboa, Portugal

Ana Margarida Ferreira
Assistant Professor with Habilitation in Design, Arts - Design, LabCom and Universidade da Beira Interior, Castelo Branco, Portugal

Eduardo Gonçalves
Assistant Professor and Researcher, Unidade de Investigação em Design e Comunicação (UNIDCOM/IADE), IADE, Faculdade de Design, Tecnologia e Comunicação - Universidade Europeia, Lisboa, Portugal


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design in Society


Design, Speculative, Critical, Participatory, Communities, Inclusion, Society, Futures

Digital Media


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Conscious Speculative Design Practice through Community Participation: slides (pdf)


Conscious Speculative Design Practice through Community Participation: paper (pdf)