Speculative Design Thinking!

Exploring the Impact of Speculative Design Thinking on Creative Industries and Future Innovation
Speculative Design Thinking!

A forward-thinking approach to design thinking, is revolutionising the creative landscape across various industries. This innovative methodology challenges conventional practices by envisioning and prototyping possible futures. By extrapolating potential scenarios, speculative design prompts critical thinking, sparks innovation, and cultivates unique brand experiences. This article explores how speculative design is poised to drive the future of creative industries, innovation, and brand products/experiences.

Speculative design thinking is more than just a creative exercise; it's a methodology that uses design to pose questions, spark conversations, and provoke imagination. Unlike traditional design thinking, which focuses on solving existing problems, speculative design thinking ventures into uncharted territory, exploring ‘what could be rather than what is’. It thrives on envisioning alternative realities and pushing boundaries, enabling designers to challenge preconceived notions and stimulate disruptive innovation.

1. Igniting a Culture of Profound Possible Futures

One of the key principles of speculative design is embracing ambiguity. By acknowledging the uncertainty of the future, designers are freed from the constraints of the present. This liberating approach allows for the exploration of diverse and sometimes radical ideas, fostering a culture of creative experimentation. Through scenarios, narratives, and prototypes, designers can communicate their visions of possible futures, igniting a profound shift in thinking.

2. Fostering Innovation through Provocative Scenarios

Speculative Design Thinking has found a natural home within creative industries, including graphic design, fashion, architecture, and interactive media. Designers are leveraging this methodology to transcend the boundaries of their respective fields. For instance, in architecture, speculative design prompts architects to reimagine urban spaces, envisioning cities that adapt to emerging technologies and evolving societal needs. Similarly, in fashion, speculative designers are challenging traditional notions of clothing, pushing the boundaries of materiality and wearability.

3. Speculative Design Thinking's Strength

Lies in its ability to generate provocative scenarios that challenge assumptions and stimulate innovation. By presenting alternative futures, designers encourage stakeholders to think critically about the choices they make today. This process not only inspires fresh ideas but also prepares organisations to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing world. For example, a speculative scenario imagining a world where sustainable energy sources are the norm could prompt companies to invest more in renewable technologies.

Moving Further…

How do I view Speculative Design Thinking driving & influencing the future of creative industries, consulting, new product development, and Industry 5.0?

(very relevant to Product Manager, CEOs, Product development experts, Category Heads, Consultants and Technologists)

The ‘What If’ Questions

That come to my mind are somewhat mundane yet very deep rooted to daily human behavioural patterns such as…

Will urban people cook their meals in the future? And if they are to buy in their lives, then will the concept of cooking, kitchen and products such as kitchen utensils and appliances exist in the future?

This notion perhaps completely transforms the kitchen appliance industry into something that cannot simply rely on their current set of product categories. The product development will require a completely 360 turnaround.

Then what if city cars turn into entertainment, gaming & socialising platforms for the coming generations? Does that mean the existing meaning of urban personal transportations are going to be based on these anticipated user centric needs? However, a parallel question that surfaces is whether this kills the fun of driving and the experience of going for long drives? Just like they say, Television killed the Radio!

Another thought provoking question that comes to mind is how the creative service industry may re-orbit itself into the future? What if we see creative & design agencies become completely ‘BOT-FIED’ and don’t necessarily require human creativity? I am just scratching the surface!

What if digital bots start to build an online community over the digital multiverses to provide creative services and build real-time phy-gital products & offerings combing data on emerging research on geo-political, ethical norms, latest technological shifts, consumer trends, financial returns from a product category as few of the markers in the wider spectrum to make the most pragmatic decisions through its AI-enabled internal smart simulations that otherwise take months of analytical research mapping through to implementation? Indeed, performance marketing is already become huge in this space but the scope is for a much larger spectrum of industries.

As you continue… more scenarios may also surface such as

What if the concept of sustainability, SDG and circular economy become a mandated inclusion for all creative industries such as journalism, media & advertising too? Until now the application has been implemented largely in the manufacturing sector only.

Image Credit: Google
Image Credit: Google

What if sustainability goals & practices impact the existing ways of performance marketing products, lead creation for selling & marketing products right from conception to final end consumer?

What if the Sustainability markers become a MUST-HAVE mandate for all creative agencies for a leadership go-ahead?

Image Credit: Google
Image Credit: Google

Transforming Brand Experiences

In an era where consumer expectations are constantly evolving, creating memorable brand experiences is paramount. Speculative Design Thinking offers a powerful tool to envision and prototype these experiences, enabling brands to stand out in a crowded marketplace. By immersing stakeholders in imagined futures, designers can elicit emotional responses, forging deeper connections between consumers and brands. This immersive approach fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty, as consumers resonate with the brand’s vision of the future.

How are the big brands prototyping their futures through Speculative Design Thinking?

Some great exemplars of Speculative Design Thinking in action are:

IKEA’s Future Living Lab

IKEA’s Future Living Lab is a prime example of how speculative design can shape a brand’s future. By envisioning how people might live in urban environments with limited space, IKEA not only designed innovative, space-saving furniture but also influenced the way customers perceive their living spaces.

Microsoft’s Productivity Future Vision

Microsoft’s productivity future vision is a series of speculative concept videos that illustrate how technology could transform our work and personal lives in the future. By presenting scenarios that highlight seamless integration between technology and human interaction, Microsoft is not only showcasing its innovative capabilities but also shaping expectations for future computing experiences

Neuralink – Plugin for the Creative Brain

Neuralink holds immense potential for revolutionising the world of creative design, empowering artists, industrial designers, automotive designers, and architects to translate their imagination into reality seamlessly. What if, by establishing a direct link between the mind and advanced processing power, Neuralink could eliminate the need for extensive software learning, streamline workflows, enhance collaboration, and expand creative problem-solving? This re-imagines the way skill based learning tools will re-invent the creative education industry.

Image Credit: Google
Image Credit: Google

Closing Thoughts

By daring to imagine, we pave the way for innovation, ensuring a tomorrow that is not just an extension of today, but a leap into the extraordinary. With this in mind, come some critical scenarios…

What if products, brands, and services that will begin to embrace a more human response and a human responsibility? This implies a connection with their users on an emotional level, leading to a well-connected, harmonious phy-gital ecosystem. However, as humans, we must also question how they will prioritize emotions and tasks if they were to behave like humans.

Will they possess a lesser amount of built-in emotional quotient, or could it well be the complete opposite? What-if these AI-enabled products become so social that they become excessively chatty to such an extent that it compromises their productivity in performing their key tasks? This would be frustrating and equally amusing!

• Embracing the Future through Speculative Design Thinking - No Crystal Ball Magic!

Speculative Design Thinking is not a crystal ball, but rather a powerful tool for envisioning and shaping the future. By embracing ambiguity and questioning the ‘What ifs’ will enable us creatives to prototype the far out future scenarios and transform products, services and brand experiences. As businesses seek to differentiate themselves in an ever-changing world, the adoption of speculative design will be pivotal in sculpting a future that is both imaginative and impactful.

The article contributed by Anupam Tomer.

Creative Gaga