🍉 11/17. Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby: Speculative Design
7.00 – 8.30pm | All Sections
All cohort guest presentation & Q&A

Dunne & Raby use design as a medium to stimulate discussion and debate amongst designers, industry and the public about the social, cultural and ethical implications of existing and emerging technologies.

Anthony is University Professor of Design and Social Inquiry and a Fellow of the Graduate Institute for Design Ethnography and Social Thought at The New School in New York. Between 2005-2015 he was professor and head of the Design Interactions department/programme at the Royal College of Art in London. He studied Industrial Design at the RCA before working at Sony Design in Tokyo. On returning to London he completed a PhD in Computer Related Design at the RCA. He was a founding member of the CRD Research Studio where he worked as a Senior Research Fellow leading EU and industry funded research projects. Between 1998-2004 he was a senior tutor in Design products where he led Platform 3. Anthony was awarded the Sir Misha Black Award for Innovation in Design Education in 2009

Fiona is University Professor of Design and Social Inquiry and a Fellow of the Graduate Institute for Design Ethnography and Social Thought at The New School in New York. She was Professor of Industrial Design (id2) at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna between 2011-2016 and was Reader in Design Interactions at the RCA between 2005-2015. She studied Architecture at the RCA before working for Kei'ichi Irie Architects in Tokyo. She also holds an MPhil in Computer Related Design from the RCA. She was a founding member of the CRD Research Studio where she worked as a Senior Research Fellow leading externally funded research projects. She taught in the Architecture department for over 13 years leading ADS 4.

💬 Group Discussion

8.50–9.10 | All Class
Discussion led by Mark.

Add a question from Design Noir before WE, 11/17 @ 12pm ET:
Discussion Question
Shinee Wang
As designers, should we focus more on functionality or aesthetics of products? If we should do both, how should we balance them in a product?  And in the current society which has a higher ego, it is common to see a lot of design embedded with customization or personalization. Do you think it will be a trend in the future that products will be marketed to a niche instead of a mass consumption?
Tina Li
Product design will change with the changes of the times; I used apple mp3 seven or eight years ago, it was very popular, small and portable (the disadvantage is that there is no screen), and may related electronic products have been eliminated with the development of smart phones. . For example, mp4, Apple itouch. How should a designer judge whether the future development of a design product meets the long-term needs of users? When designing for users, not only need to solve the current problems, but also need to consider the problems that may occur in the future.
Dong Xia
“The user becomes a protagonist and the designer becomes a co-author of the experience, the product creates dilemmas rather than resolving them. By using the phone, the owner explores boundaries between himself and the paranoid user suggested by the product, entering into a psychological adventure.” We, as designers, always focus on how to solve problems and how to let users have a better experience. What if we focus on users psychological experience when designing products? Does it make products more interesting and more intriguing to use? 
Ruolin Fu
This article was written 20 years ago. During this period, our society has changed a lot. Nowadays, nearly everyone has a laptop and smart phone, while 20 years before, a computer is over 1000$ while people only had a tenth of today’s income.  Those electronic products which focus on specific consumers seems are now for mass consumption. Can you imagine what the society will be in 20 years? Can you show an example if there are some electronic products which are for minority consumers now can be popular in the future?
Mark Huang
The reading explains how designers need to draw from the fringes of material culture, where products and services satisfy  difficult and unusual needs in order to push beyond and satisfy the abstract needs of humanity.  

I believe these design noir trends follow a certain need that is not needed by the mass majority. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this can range between basic needs of air, food, water to self-actualization. From my perspective, individuals can climb the Maslow’s hierarchy at different speeds. Society as a whole climbs at a very slow rate and we are still tackling safety needs, senses of connection needs and even to this day physiological needs. 

Does society view these products as very extreme and not useful because we as a whole have not climbed high enough in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? And when we climb high enough, will these extreme products become a norm?

Do you think that design noir is closer to the true nature of a designer than what current designers are designing?
Tegwen McKenzie
An excerpt from Dunne and Raby’s Design Noir reads: 
“It is as though the internet reflects human nature in all of its imperfections while the material world of consumer products only reflects idealized notions of correct behavior.”

In theory, shouldn’t we be focusing our attention and efforts on the latter (i.e., products that promote correct, ethical behaviour)? Devices like The Truth Phone—although dramatic—promote truth telling, while products like the Alibi CD do the opposite. Even though lying and deceit may be part of human nature, it feels counterproductive to spend time and energy developing devices that indulge these harmful behaviours. 

The same goes for products with existential themes, like the suicide computer; wouldn’t a device that you can walk into and in three sentences once again feel motivated and happy with life be more socially productive than one that can end your life in three sentences? 

I think we should be striving to promote correct/ethical behaviour in consumer products AND the internet, instead of transposing the imperfections of the internet into consumer products. Do you agree?
Yining Zhu
"Not everyone has to participant, but the fact that these things exist means our material culture reflects more accurately the range and complexity of human desire and needs, and we might be faced with real choices at last"

Do you think being labeled as "Noir products" adds or takes away anything to the products themselves? Does it encourage users to try them because they are unique but not mainstream or does it make users feel defensive?
Karan Chowdhary
This article was really thought provoking because it opened my eyes to a whole new genre of products that have existed among us. While some inventions seems bizarre and perhaps not always working towards the better, they still met some sort of demand in the world. I wonder if we could gauge the demand of these weird products/ services, looking at demographical data on psychological or physiological issues humans suffer from?
Vern Liu
This article is one of the interesting ones to read,  It inspires me to look at how product design in 10/20 years ago was much more about physical experience, and it made me wonder if we are missing out on better product solutions today because everything is supposed to be online and smartphone accessible.

Since digital experience's priority is being elevated in products today. Have we already given up the possibilities of physical product design for the digital, and are we limiting our approach and innovation because of too much focus on the digital today?
Thao Tran
Fiona Raby and Anthony Dunne writes that product design encourages buyers' passivity. According to them, the solution to this passitivity is Design Noir which emphasizes existentialism while challenging and provoking existing norms. The products that fit into this genre tend to create pleasure rather than aesthetics. Do you think the world would be an utopia if noir products were to become a norm?
Jess Chen
Established electronic product design houses should have a well-documented design process that they can share with their clients.  There are many different approaches to product development, depending on the size and complexity of the project and the management style of the design house.  While one approach is not necessarily better than another, as designers, it is important that we understand the design process up front so we can decide whether it is a good fit for our project and know what to expect as the design progresses.  For example, how will progress be measured?
Samantha Laite
This article made me think of a discussion I had in my social entrepreneurship class. Our professor pushed us to consider to look at different businesses and apps and consider how they could have produced outside of an app or a website to push and become more inline with their mission and vision. If we were taught and grown to collaborate from the beginning to think outside of what is already created in terms of product form and deliverable, what could we create?
Grace Yang
In the end, the author touch upon that noir products were not designed for mass consumption because of its nature (their effectiveness would wear off eventually with increased familiarity).  The author was wondering if noir product can be rented. Do you think sustainability should always be something that designers need to consider? Are digital product more sustainable than physical product? Moreover, how should we understand the material culture today, are most digital products fulfilling human desires or human needs?