The main point of the book is to “use design as means of speculating how things could be.” The writers are interested in “the idea of possible futures and using them as tools to better understand the present.” They talk about using conceptual design which deals with unreality to design how things could be.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:


“Ideals are not measured by whether they conform to reality; reality is judged by whether it lives up to ideals.”


“Critical design uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions, and givens about the role products play in everyday life.”


“Critical thinking [is]... not taking things for granted, being skeptical, and always questioning what is given. All good design is critical. Designers start by identifying shortcomings in the thing they are redesigning and offer a better version.”


“Sometimes we can have more effect as citizens than as designers”


“The most threatening act of protest for a capitalist system would be for its citizens to refuse to consume.”


“In a consumer society like ours, it is through buying goods that reality takes shape.”


“In a consumer society, the moment we part without money is the moment a little bit of reality is created.”


“Design can help raise awareness of the consequences of our actions as citizen-consumers.”


“For us, the purpose of speculation is to ‘unsettle the present rather than predict the future.’”


“Literature deals with the possibilities of human nature whereas design deals with the possibilities of human nature manifested in machines and systems.”


“Constructed spaces… allow designers to introduce estrangement, gently forcing viewers to make sense of what they are looking at rather than simply recognizing or reading the cues.”


“Design speculations can give form to the multiverse of worlds our worlds could be. Whereas it is accepted that the present is caused by the past it is also possible to think of it being shaped by the future, by our hopes and dreams for tomorrow.”


“If our values, mental models, and ethics change, then the world that flows from the worldview will be different, and we hope, better.”


“Art enables us to experience some emotions in contexts that we would not ordinarily encounter, and to think of ourselves in ways that usually we do not.”


“Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans. And that led me wonder, if reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singularly, or shouldn’t we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real) than others?”

I had to come all the way to Tokyo to find a book—Speculative Everything—written by two British professors that has changed my life?