Envisioning Design Futures via Practice-led Speculative Design Research
Some criticisms of the contemporary maker movement (referring to the democratization of various production technologies) have conflated the validity of the making arising from this movement with the utility / commercial potential of said making. However, like pure research in traditional disciplines, the true value of exploratory making—of which practice-led research is a part—without immediate utility or application is in the development of a base for future research to build upon. This paper both establishes a context and proposes a framework for practice-led speculative design research, which positions the designer as an instigator whose work can inform that of both other designers and non-designers (such as those engaged in the maker movement). Such work holds the power to chart the course and ensure the future of the discipline as a whole, and thus should be viewed as an essential component of disciplinary activity.