Design fiction

Design fiction is a type of speculative design (which itself is a relative of critical design). All of these related approaches use design in order to explore and critique future possibilities.[1][2] The term appears to have been coined by Bruce Sterling in his 2005 Book Shaping Things,[3] however Sterling himself is quoted as saying it was Julian Bleecker who “invented the interesting term”.[4] In 2012 Sterling said that design fiction is "the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change". Subsequently, arguing for a disambiguation of communications about design fiction in order to strengthen applications of design fiction, researchers Joseph Lindley and Paul Coulton propose that design fiction be defined as: "(1) something that creates a story world, (2) has something being prototyped within that story world, (3) does so in order to create a discursive space", where 'something' may mean 'anything'.[5] This definition reflects the diverse media used to create design fiction and the breadth of concepts that are prototyped in the design fiction worlds. Examples of the media used to create design fiction storyworlds include videos,[6][7][8] short stories,[9][10] comics,[11][12] fictional crowdfunding videos,[13] fictional documentaries,[14] and pastiches of academic papers and abstracts.[15][16][17][18]


Although the term design fiction was coined by Bruce Sterling in 2005, where he says it is similar to science fiction but "makes more sense on the page",[3] it was Julian Bleecker's 2009 essay[19] that firmly established the idea.[5] Bleecker brought together Sterling's original idea and combined it with David Kirby's notion of the diegetic prototype[20] and a paper written by influential researchers Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell which argued reading science fiction alongside Ubiquitous Computing research would shed further light on both areas.[21] Since Bleecker's essay was published design fiction has become increasingly popular as demonstrated by agencies such as The Near Future Laboratory, Design Friction, Lemon Difficult Consulting, Superflux, Dunne and Raby, Tomorrows Thoughts Today, David Benque, and by the adoption of design fiction in a wide variety of academic research.[10][11][15][16][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29]


Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction and Social Dreaming by Dunne and Raby, MIT Press, 2013.

2050: Designing our Tomorrow, Architectural Design, Volume 85, Issue 4, July/August 2015. Edited by Chris Luebkeman with contributions from Tim Maughan, Dan Hill, Liam Young, Mitchell Joachim, et al.

See also


  1. Speculative Everything. 2013. ISBN 9780262019842.
  2. "Definition of speculative design". Auger Loizeau : Blog. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  3. 1 2 Sterling, Bruce (2005). Shaping Things. The MIT Press. ISBN 9780262693264.
  4. play/patently-untrue "Patently untrue: fleshy defibrillators and synchronised baseball are changing the future" Check |url= value (help).
  5. 1 2 Lindley, Joseph; Coulton, Paul (2015-01-01). "Back to the Future: 10 Years of Design Fiction". Proceedings of the 2015 British HCI Conference. British HCI '15. New York, NY, USA: ACM: 210–211. doi:10.1145/2783446.2783592. ISBN 9781450336437.
  6. Joe Lindley (2014-10-30), A Machine. Learning. (An example of HCI prototyping with design fiction), retrieved 2016-07-05
  7. "A Digital Tomorrow". Vimeo. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  8. "Uninvited Guests | superflux". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  9. Maughan, Tim. "Zero Hours".
  10. 1 2 Dalton, Nicholas S.; Moreau, Rebecca; Adams, Ross K. (2016-01-01). "Resistance is Fertile: Design Fictions in Dystopian Worlds". Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI EA '16. New York, NY, USA: ACM: 365–374. doi:10.1145/2851581.2892572. ISBN 9781450340823.
  11. 1 2 Sturdee, Miriam; Coulton, Paul; Lindley, Joseph G.; Stead, Mike; Ali, Haider; Hudson-Smith, Andy (2016-01-01). "Design Fiction: How to Build a Voight-Kampff Machine". Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI EA '16. New York, NY, USA: ACM: 375–386. doi:10.1145/2851581.2892574. ISBN 9781450340823.
  12. "Emotion detector could reveal if a date really finds you attractive: Is this the kind of world we actually want?". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  13. "Introducing the Empathy Engine". Vimeo. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  14. Joe Lindley (2015-08-11), Care For a Robot (A design fiction documentary about caring robots), retrieved 2016-07-05
  15. 1 2 Lindley, Joseph; Coulton, Paul (2015-01-01). "Game of Drones". Proceedings of the 2015 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play. CHI PLAY '15. New York, NY, USA: ACM: 613–618. doi:10.1145/2793107.2810300. ISBN 9781450334662.
  16. 1 2 Lindley, Joseph; Coulton, Paul (2016-01-01). "Pushing the Limits of Design Fiction: The Case For Fictional Research Papers". Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI '16. New York, NY, USA: ACM: 4032–4043. doi:10.1145/2858036.2858446. ISBN 9781450333627.
  17. Blythe, Mark; Buie, Elizabeth (2014-01-01). "Chatbots of the Gods: Imaginary Abstracts for Techno-spirituality Research". Proceedings of the 8th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Fun, Fast, Foundational. NordiCHI '14. New York, NY, USA: ACM: 227–236. doi:10.1145/2639189.2641212. ISBN 9781450325424.
  18. Blythe, Mark (2014-01-01). "Research Through Design Fiction: Narrative in Real and Imaginary Abstracts". Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI '14. New York, NY, USA: ACM: 703–712. doi:10.1145/2556288.2557098. ISBN 9781450324731.
  19. Bleecker, Julian (2009). "Design Fiction: A short essay on design, science, fact and fiction." (PDF).
  20. Kirby, David (2010-02-01). "The Future is Now Diegetic Prototypes and the Role of Popular Films in Generating Real-world Technological Development". Social Studies of Science. 40 (1): 41–70. doi:10.1177/0306312709338325. ISSN 0306-3127.
  21. Dourish, Paul; Bell, Genevieve (2013-05-15). ""Resistance is futile": reading science fiction alongside ubiquitous computing". Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. 18 (4): 769–778. doi:10.1007/s00779-013-0678-7. ISSN 1617-4909.
  22. Encinas, Enrique; Blythe, Mark (2016-01-01). "The Solution Printer: Magic Realist Design Fiction". Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI EA '16. New York, NY, USA: ACM: 387–396. doi:10.1145/2851581.2892589. ISBN 9781450340823.
  23. Joshua Tanenbaum, Karen Tanenbaum, Ron Wakkary. "Steampunk as Design Fiction:"
  24. "Near Future School". 2014-09-08. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  25. "Sans Duty | Communities and Culture Network +". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  26. "Design Fiction: Does the search for plausibility lead to deception?". DRS2016. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  27. "Using Design Fiction To Facilitate Discussion on the creation of A Sustainable Internet of Things". DRS2016. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  28. "Games as Speculative Design: Allowing Players to Consider Alternate Presents and Plausible Futures". DRS2016. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  29. "Euthanasia Wearable Design Fiction – ImaginationLancaster". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
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