Neha Patil (Editor)

Design fiction

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

Design fiction is a type of speculative design (which itself is a relative of critical design). All of these related approaches use design in order to explore and critique future possibilities. The term appears to have been coined by Bruce Sterling in his 2005 Book Shaping Things, however Sterling himself is quoted as saying it was Julian Bleecker who “invented the interesting term”. In 2012 Sterling said that design fiction is "the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change". Subsequently, arguing for a disambiguation of communications about design fiction in order to strengthen applications of design fiction, researchers Joseph Lindley and Paul Coulton propose that design fiction be defined as: "(1) something that creates a story world, (2) has something being prototyped within that story world, (3) does so in order to create a discursive space", where 'something' may mean 'anything'. This definition reflects the diverse media used to create design fiction and the breadth of concepts that are prototyped in the design fiction worlds. Examples of the media used to create design fiction storyworlds include videos, short stories, comics, fictional crowdfunding videos, fictional documentaries, and pastiches of academic papers and abstracts.



Although the term design fiction was coined by Bruce Sterling in 2005, where he says it is similar to science fiction but "makes more sense on the page", it was Julian Bleecker's 2009 essay that firmly established the idea. Bleecker brought together Sterling's original idea and combined it with David Kirby's notion of the diegetic prototype and a paper written by influential researchers Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell which argued reading science fiction alongside Ubiquitous Computing research would shed further light on both areas. Since Bleecker's essay was published design fiction has become increasingly popular as demonstrated by agencies such as The Near Future Laboratory, Design Friction, Lemon Difficult Consulting, Superflux, Dunne and Raby, Tomorrows Thoughts Today, David Benque, and by the adoption of design fiction in a wide variety of academic research.


Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction and Social Dreaming by Dunne and Raby, MIT Press, 2013.

2050: Designing our Tomorrow, Architectural Design, Volume 85, Issue 4, July/August 2015. Edited by Chris Luebkeman with contributions from Tim Maughan, Dan Hill, Liam Young, Mitchell Joachim, et al.


Design fiction Wikipedia

Similar Topics
Tokyo Joe (1949 film)
Connor Brown (ice hockey)
Guy Marchand