Research and (Speculative) Design

Doing research and engaging and empowering citizens through creative methods

We use (speculative) design and interventions as a means to engage citizens and stakeholders regarding their Right to the City.

"Other than in traditional design practices – in which prototypes serve as a means to test and improve concepts – prototypes/research artifacts in Research through Design methods and practices allow designers and researchers to discuss and develop knowledge regarding emerging and oftentimes technologically-induced societal issues (Zimmerman & Forlizzi 2008: 42). They do so, according to Stappers and Giaccardi (2017), as they allow researchers to present respondents with “nonexistent combination of factors as a provocation for discussion,” or to create “the possibility for people and products to engage in interactions that were not possible before.” Another, closely related, aspect of Research through Design methods and practices is that they use elements and techniques of fiction and provocation. This has both practical and ideological reasons. Practical, as researchers’ and designers’ fields of study (for example smart city development) are not always fully comprehensible, clearly demarquated, visible or tangible, these inherently contain a multitude of unknowns and potential directions for development. As a consequence, they have to use their (well-informed) creativity and imagination to help their respondents perceive and experience these potential (fictional, future) developments in order to be able to discuss and research them. Besides that, fictional and prevocational elements are meant to show that current developments (e.g. concerning smart cities) are not set in stone and that these thus could have a different course. By [engaging them in] design fiction or speculative design [processes], researchers and designers invite them to critically reflect on a current state of affairs and to challenge them to imagine alternative futures (cf. Dunne & Raby 2013; Auger 2013; Odom et al. 2016 )."

From: Rijshouwer E. & Van Zoonen, L. (Eds.) (2022). Speculative Design Methods for Citizen Engagement in Smart Cities Research.