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Speculative design as a methodology

Speculative design is a method that helps us work in a structured way to explore, investigate and imagine possible futures.

This web page has been machine translated. If there are any uncertainties, please refer to the Swedish text.

There are several phases you go through when practicing speculative design. Here we have collected some tools from the methodology that can guide you in key steps when you try the methodology.

  1. Discover
  2. Explore
  3. Challenge
  4. Develop
  5. Experience
  6. Evaluate


The starting point in working forward-looking is often to try to grasp and analyze one's surroundings - to discover what is about to change and how. What is about to change in the near future? What trends do we see that can affect how we live from a slightly longer, but clear horizon? When we fantasize about a distant future, what do we imagine then?

In the work with foresight and speculative design, the goal is to work from a long horizon. Therefore, the input is usually to look for and discover "weak signals" that identify something that feels new, unfamiliar, interesting or foreign. It can be new technologies, culturally interesting behaviors, experiments or a movement that emerges and shows a new behavior.

Tool for mapping weak signals - PDF


As part of exploring the outside world and incipient tendencies for change, it is good to look at the world and map changes from different perspectives. It helps us to imagine the future from a social, technological, ecological, economic and political perspective. A very simple tool to use is the STEEP model, a framework that facilitates by comprehensively scanning and analyzing what is happening in the world around us. By looking around through different lenses, we can create a more comprehensive view and outlook.

Prova STEEP-modellen pdf - PDF


In this phase, we enter with a creative mind and begin to formulate a hypothesis and describe how our imagined future can look based on insights and identified signals. Here it is good to try to be more concrete and transform our signals into future scenarios.

Use scenario template to formulate your hypothesis - PDF

A good science fiction story should be able to predict not only the car but also the traffic jam - Fredrik PohlI this step, we should continue to deepen our understanding and perception of what our new futures can mean. To deepen our innovative work and analyze our thinking futures, we can use the tool “Future Wheels” which aims to delve into what our thinking scenario can mean and have consequences in society.

Try analyzing your future scenario with Future Wheels - PDF


A large part of working with speculative design is about concretizing and shaping how futures can look and be experienced. Here, it is only the imagination that sets the limits for how you can best create your future that the inhabitants of a world can experience. You can create a story with what your future includes, an environmental description, artifacts, products or services. How do you expect visitors to interact in your world? Try to create as rich and tactile an experience as you can of your imagined future. A visitor to your world should be able to feel and experience what it is like.


After you have designed your future, the interesting step will invite visitors to see what reactions your future generates in others. You share your future world, and at best you inspire the audience's imagination to fill in the gaps and continue to shape the future. Prepare questions and thoughts about what you want to talk to your visitors about, help and encourage them to share what they think. With consensus, we can then jointly imagine, discuss around and shape a possible future.

The way to major system changes is collective action - Gloria Feldt


Once you have received feedback and reactions on how your future is received, you can better evaluate and build on thoughts about your future potential and how you want to take it further.

Last updated 11 May 2022

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