Reading 1: Speculative Everything

  • As a tool to create not only things, but ideas.
  • As a means of imagining the future.
  • Continually asking “what if” to improve to achieve the desired future.

“Things always happen in the art earlier than they do in design, like they have in conceptual art,” Boelen says. “But a work of art is not just a thing of beauty, it is also an object for discussion or debate and critical design appropriates this idea. It is not about a formal thing, but about an attitude towards everyday life, the things we do, the things we feel.”

“It is about what happens before the object,” Boelen explains, “about how the concept is arrived at. It is a new definition of design that asks questions. Critical design is also the most sustainable way, not concentrating on just producing new things, but on creating awareness of the issues surrounding them.”

Reading 2: Questioning the “critical” in Speculative & Critical Design

  • “What is this obsession with class systems?”

We are obsessed with class systems because we can’t help it. Because most SCD and practitioners in the field, we are not thinking about issues of race, class and gender privileges.

  • And because if we don’t call out your privilege — though you dismiss it as “misguided suggestions of privilege” 

This is what will happen: SCD shall not pass to stay in their own little universe, weather forecasts and fridge don’t help, look at their guesses, how shallow, and the development of more relevant and inclusive, they can.

Now, SCD imperative is nothing more than the alleged “lack of poetic dimension” in our relationship with electronic objects. The “social narratives” and “criticism” so advertised by the great majority of its practitioners seem to only apply to the aesthetic concerns of the intellectual northern european middle classes.

  • We do believe that SCD has something necessary and valid to offer to society.

We do believe that design is a powerful language, one that it is perfectly positioned to provide relevant social and cultural critique, and that envisioning near future scenarios might just help us reflect on the paths we want to take as a society.

In order to truly achieve these goals, however, SCD needs to be held accountable for its political and social positions; it urgently needs to escape its narrow northern european middle class confines; it needs to talk about social change; it needs more diversity, both in its visual representations and the practitioners in the field.