About the Lab

Imaginaries Lab Team, May 2017

Imaginaries Lab team, May 2017. Left to right: Silvia Mata-Marin, Dan Lockton, Delanie Ricketts, Nehal Vora, Theora Kvitka, Ashlesha Dhotey

How we imagine affects how we understand the world, how we live, and what we see as possible in our collective futures, with consequences for sustainability, society, our relationships with technology, and our everyday lives. At the Imaginaries Lab, we believe that humanity needs tools to enable new ways of understanding and imagining, and new ways to live, that provide more equitable socially and environmentally sustainable futures. We create those tools through developing creative research methods, adapted from those used in design practice, and explore their use in a variety of cross-disciplinary contexts.

The Imaginaries Lab is a new research group based within Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design. Founded in early 2017 by Dan Lockton, we are building on work around design for behavior change, mental models, and understanding, to explore questions around how the ways in which people think about, understand and imagine concepts, and the agency they perceive they have, affects what they do. We are also interested in ways of enabling new imaginaries, ways in which people can speculate, envision and reflect on different and alternative ways of living and being, both now and in the future.

We are using design methods to investigate these questions, to inform both academic research in other disciplines and practical applications for social and environmental benefit, but also to enable practical ways of imagining and exploring new ways of living as part of societal transitions to more sustainable futures. Current and previous areas of research from lab members range from imagining local government to imagining energy—our work is interdisciplinary. Two undergraduate Design courses at CMU, Play Lab and Environments Studio IV: The Invisible, also arise from and intersect with the lab’s themes.

Read more about the ideas behind the Imaginaries Lab, who we are, and the projects we are working on. Our blog will chronicle the work we are doing, with opportunities to be involved—you can also subscribe by email for news of our activities.

Contact: Dan Lockton, danlockton@cmu.edu

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