The Design Research Society conference—in 2018 taking place in Limerick, Ireland—is one of the largest events for the international academic design research community. The Imaginaries Lab is well represented, with roles in a number of sessions:
Service Fictions and Actant Switching
Sarah Foley (lab alumna: MDes 2017, and summer 2017 design researcher for the lab, and currently a Senior User Experience Specialist at SAP) will be presenting her work on Service Fictions and Actant Switching, two related methods for working with speculative scenarios in interaction and service design. Actant Switching is a method for speculative scenario creation that interchanges human and nonhuman actors to create counterfactual scenarios, exposing tension with the context and technology. Service Fictions is a method for engaging participants in a co-created speculative piece of service design around the switched actors. In her MDes thesis, advised by Dan Lockton and Cameron Tonkinwise, Sarah applied the methods in the context of practices around sleep, and how new services might emerge.
Sarah’s presentation is part of Thursday 28th June’s session on ‘Philosophical tools in Design Research: From empirical turn to practical turn‘ led by Wouter Eggink and Steven Dorrestijn. The paper is in Volume 1 of the DRS 2018 proceedings, or just directly here.
Foley, S.M. and Lockton, D. (2018). ‘Service Fictions through Actant Switching‘. DRS 2018: Design Research Society Conference, 25–28 June 2018, Limerick. download the paper.
Designing for Transitions
Dan Lockton is co-chair, with Joanna Boehnert (Ecolabs) and Ingrid Mulder (TU Delft), of the Designing For Transitions track at the conference, which has two sessions on Tuesday 26th June. Building on work around Transition Design but also other systemic approaches to designing with wider social and environmental change in mind, the ten papers in the track explore an expanded field for design research seeking to engage with change at scale in time and place. Our editorial provides an overview of some issues and challenges in the field as we see it developing:,
Boehnert, J., Lockton, D. and Mulder, I. (2018). ‘Editorial: Designing for Transitions’. DRS 2018: Design Research Society Conference, 25-28 June 2018, Limerick. download the paper.
The full set of Designing for Transitions papers is available to download here.
A Vocabulary for Visions
Dan Lockton and CMU colleague Stuart Candy‘s new paper A Vocabulary for Visions is part of the first Designing for Transitions session on Tuesday 26th June, bringing together many of the themes of imaginaries, futures, and new metaphors that underpin the Imaginaries Lab’s work:
Visions of sustainable futures have been proposed as a key component of transition design, offering a way for today’s situations and design proposals to be compared and critiqued in the light of desired future states. Such ambitions are necessarily wide-ranging, and call for drawing together strands on design and speculation from diverse sources. Here we seek to add to the momentum by exploring a set of concepts relating particularly to this role of vision in designing for transitions. Building on perspectives and projects from other fields, we present elements of a visionary vocabulary, situating these terms in relation to challenges and opportunities for transition thinking and practice in design research.
Lockton, D. and Candy, S. (2018). ‘A Vocabulary for Visions in Designing for Transitions’. DRS 2018: Design Research Society Conference, 25–28 June 2018, Limerick. download the paper.
We cover (briefly) a set of concepts which can be thought of as seven ‘ways of seeing’, for tackling the ‘visionary’ aspect of designing for transitions—lenses, imaginaries, backcasting, dark matter, circularity, experiential futures, and new metaphors—drawing on work by a range of people and different disciplines.
A version of the paper has also recently been published in a special issue (appropriately dated in the future) of Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios de Diseño y Comunicación, produced by the Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires, as part of a collection of papers about Transition Design:
Lockton, D. and Candy, S. (2019) ‘A Vocabulary for Visions in Designing for Transition’. Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios de Diseño y Comunicación, 73, p.27–49. download the paper.
Elsewhere at the conference
Lab leader Dan Lockton is also a member of the Conversations committee for DRS 2018, and is a discussant at PhD by Design Limerick on Monday 25th June.