Major research project submitted to OCAD University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation, December 2011.
Abstract: At the intersection of the disciplines of design and futures, a set of practices are currently emerging whose key feature is the creation of material representations of speculative future worlds. These practices go by various names, including “design fiction”, “artifacts from the future”, and “experiential futures”. This work inquires into the methodological possibilities offered by these practices by investigating the ways in which they are being employed by current practitioners. Five instances of practice were analyzed in depth, primarily through practitioner interviews, in order to construct a taxonomy. While the practices differ in significant ways, they were found to share some key attributes; in particular, they act to enhance our capacity to seek out and work with possibility, enrich communication in the exchange of speculative ideas, disrupt conventional mindsets with provocative visions of alternative futures, and affirm individual agency..