Sketch – Speculative/Provotype (27/10/20)


Provotype is a design artefact — digital or physical — whose main goal is to provoke discussion among different types of users and stakeholders. Here’s the fun part: it is not supposed to be realistic, but ridiculous, funny, obscure, artistic — or even downright annoying instead. (wikipedia).

Speculative Design. The term was coined by Anthony Dunne, professor and head of the design interactions programme at the Royal College of Art, and Fiona Raby, professor of industrial design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. The two popularized the concept in their book, Speculative Everything: Design, Dreaming, and Social Dreaming.

From the book:

“[Speculative design] thrives on imagination and aims to open up new perspectives on what are sometimes called wicked problems, to create spaces for discussion and debate about alternative ways of being, and to inspire and encourage people’s imaginations to flow freely. Design speculations can act as a catalyst for collectively redefining our relationship to reality.”

According to Dunne and Raby, designers shouldn’t just address issues of today, but also take a look into the future and ask, “How can we address future challenges with design?”

Where typical design takes a look at small issues, speculative design broadens the scope and tries to tackle the biggest issues in society. It seeks to answer questions like:

  • How should design impact the entire world?
  • How can we design for a healthier ecosystem?
  • What can we do to influence future cultures?
  • How can future technologies impact our products and services—and vice versa?
  • What don’t we want to see from the future?

Speculative design tries to imagine what it would be like to design without the current limitations of technology, culture, and politics in mind.

Your sketch.

  • Based on one or more devices of the week. This triggers a reflective approach on current state-of-the-art. It also triggers an incremental approach to solutions. For instance, adding a multimodal slant to an existing device.
  • You can work in teams (as for other sketches).
  • Make a speculative design or a provotype :
    • sketches
    • scenarios/storyboard
    • prototype (levels can vary depending on the complexity-anything from paper to partial implementation). See prototypes page.
  • To be addressed in your sketch to support your concepts (these topics shall be addressed but not limited to):
    • Interaction Principles
    • Case studies (of the device)
    • Analysis / Critiques or the case studies
    • Altered ways of doing/looking at things
    • The next step / New Trends / Blue sky future

    Topics are open, please run your ideas by me, so we can discuss to see if the scope of your presentation is adequate. First come, first serve to reserve a topic.

    INDIVIDUAL assignment.


Based on one of your device of the week, revisit their concepts and “push” the envelope !

Make a provotype or a speculative design version of this DOW.

Your suggestion for alternate use of the device and/or a modification that would generate a new application, a new artwork, a new design, etc. for the device


Sketches (entry level). Prototype (not required but suggested).


Speculative Everything: Design, Dreaming, and Social Dreaming.