speculative design.

Image from 'Tales from the Loop' (2014) by Simon Stålenhag.
Image from 'Tales from the Loop' (2014) by Simon Stålenhag.

“I’ve seen the future and I’ve left it behind”

Supernaut, Black Sabbath

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This page is dedicated to the undergraduate minor program in Speculative Design at the Maastricht Institute of Arts, which is conducted in collaboration with Studio Hyperspace. Our module information document is available here.

The future is uncertain. Recent environmental, societal, and technological developments make understanding the changes our world experiences difficult, mostly because old models and narratives of meaning are no longer helpful.

Designers are used to focusing on products, services, and users. Today, that’s not enough. Designers need to understand the bigger picture: how do their designs affect society on an environmental level? What changes are set in motion by the way their designs change behavior? Human-centered design, world-centered design, transition design, and systems thinking are emerging fields of design that are trying to tackle these questions. But they are still focused on and rooted in our current system of values.

We must focus on transformations: radical changes that challenge our values and seduce us to imagine possible and preferable futures. That is where speculative design comes in. Speculative design is dedicated to design for the near future by exploring these transformations. Instead of focusing on problems in the present, speculative design imagines how developments transform over time and affect the future. You combine design vision and practice by building both possible and preferable futures. It opens up ways of thinking about design beyond an immediate attempt to solve current problems and instead sees opportunities to fuel longer-term change in the world.

In this course, you’ll choose a recent and relevant development, explore it, translate it back to a tangible level, build a future world around it and design for it. The inventions you design are translated back to the present (or now), making them interventions. At the end of the course, an exhibition will be open to the general public.

Our general theme is The Art of Listening. Our challenge during the minor program is: How can we revalue and reclaim the art of listening?

Your coaches during the program are:

Jules Juriën (julesjurien.nl) is an academic adventurer exploring the art in science and the science in art.

Art director and creative strategist Robin Berkelmans (robin.forsale) knows more magic tricks than you can imagine.

Renegade sociologist Theo Ploeg (theoploeg.net) tells stories about possible futures.

Also, the following experts will take part and share their practices and knowledge: Marjolein Pijnappels, Gayatri Kodikal, Frank Kolkman, Ducttape Collective, Milla de Lange, Lien de Ruyck, Thomas D’Hooge, Mu Hybrid Art House and Next Nature Network.