Design and Futures

Much of my current research is focused on the interrelations between design and futures thinking. Design is ‘naturally’ a future-oriented discipline since every design project envisions future users and situations as the context for innovation. My own interests, however, are in forms of design that approach the future as a space for rethinking current and future sociotechnical and political issues. Some topics of interest include speculative design, ontological approaches to futuring, and the cultural circulation of concepts such as future-proofing.

I have served as a guest editor for the journal Futures‘ 50th Anniversary special issue, written the chapter on speculative design in the revised edition of the Delft Design Guide, and have been involved in Disruptive Imaginings, an initiative that aims to bring together the arts, design and strategic foresight to create a more sustainable world.

Interactive Media and Sustainability

In my book, Interactive Media for Sustainability (Palgrave, 2018), as the editor of the Sustainability in (Inter)action forum in the ACM magazine, Interactions, and through my involvement with the HCI and Sustainability interest group, I am exploring the role interactive media can play in promoting sustainability. I approach design as a form of worldmaking, and ask how it may provide users with the means to rediscover and develop their capacity to affect the deep cultural structures that influence how they perceive and act on sustainability.

Similar questions motivated my postdoctoral research, where I was involved in Sustainability in an Imaginary World: a project that aimed to design, pilot and evaluate a multimedia engagement experience that combines scenario-based models with artistic expressive vocabularies. The project was funded by a SSHRC Insight grant, and sought to explicate and communicate the potentiality implied in sustainability in ways that get ‘behind the science’ and are imaginative and meaningful. Read more about it in the article published in Ecology & Society.

Civic Media, Smart Cities and Urban Imaginaries

Smart cities are one of the most visible terrains upon which contemporary technopolitics are waged. In my research I approach smart city technologies as models of future urban governance and expressions of competing urban imaginaries. I have published a paper about the smart city as a sociotechnical imaginary in Science, Technology, & Human Values, have worked with students on speculative design projects that aim to question modes of citizenship implied by the smart city, and am currently exploring ways to democratize the design and use of urban technologies.

I have recently completed a small project titled How to Trip Over Data (in collaboration with Richard Vijgen) that sought to render smart city technologies more visible, and that was exhibited in Dutch Design Week (2017). In a follow-up project in collaboration with V2_Lab for Unstable Media and the City of Rotterdam, I am looking for new foundations for the design of urban sensors based on local urban imaginaries.

You can find a list of my publications here.

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