The future of technology is not inevitable. The future can be otherwise, and multiple futures can coexist. Imagination and creativity are essential to seeking alternative futures.
How can design help imagine, critique, and debate alernative possible futures? Design futuring is an umbrella term used to refer to approaches such as speculative design, design fiction, and critical design, that seek to re-envision futures and explore alternatives. My research works to expand and diversify approaches to design futuring.
Co-authoring with Britta F. Schulte, Amy Twigger Holroyd, Rocío Fatás Arana, Sumita Sharma, and Grace Eden, we call for a greater plurality of approaches for design futuring, and offer an un-manifesto of five idiosyncratic approaches to design futuring that draw from our own personal, cultural, and professional backgrounds:
Parallel Presents does not project into the future, but rather explores contemporary presents in fictional parallel worlds existing alongside our own. Amy has previously used this approach for Fashion Fictions.
"I Am Time" considers time as cyclical to focus on iterative processes of change and spiritual transformations.
Epithelial Metaphors imagines futures as cells build tissues, in a flat conceptual plane that priotizes relationality over linear progression.
The Uncertainties Cone offers a playful tactic to help design researchers stay humble, embrace uncertainty, and recognize interdependency.
Meet (with) "Speculation" personifies the act of speculating; their presence reminds us to reflect on how assumptions undergirding our imagined futures, and to question and queer the boundary between present and future.
Co-authoring with Sumita Sharma, Britta F. Schulte, Rocío Fatás Arana, Amy Twigger Holroyd, and Grace Eden, we explored adapting these perspectives into prompts for reimagining human relationships, intimacy, and the role of technology within it. We offer five prompts we developed for imagining alternative futures exploring a diverse range of intimacies. Through generating responses to the prompts, we offer alternative intimate futures as well as reflections on how such 'prompts for futuring' can be generative for design research. Our work extends calls for diversifying design futuring, imploring design researchers to consider diverse and inclusive ways of designing for futures, especially for human relationships and intimacy.
Calling for a Plurality of Perspectives on Design Futuring: An Un-Manifesto. 2021. Noura Howell, Britta F. Schulte, Amy Twigger Holroyd, Rocío Fatás Arana, Sumita Sharma, Grace Eden. Extended Abstracts of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. url pdf
Design Futuring for Love, Friendship, and Kinships: Five Perspectives on Intimacy. 2022. Sumita Sharma, Britta F. Schulte, Rocío Fatás, Noura Howell, Amy Twigger Holroyd, Grace Eden. CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Extended Abstracts. url pdf
2020 - ongoing