Explore/Design the future mundane

Nicolas Nova, HEAD Geneva University of Art and Design, CH

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A large number of speculative design pieces address the consequences of technology usage. These projects operate at different scale but they often do it via a subtle understanding of how people might behave, live and work, and how such changes may affect them. One can hypothesize that such design fictions act as a sort of « downstream user research », anticipating on the diffusion and the domestication of technologies. Others in anthropology and design research also use the term « ethnography of the possible1 » or « anticipatory ethnography2 » to refer to similar endeavor. 

This workshop will focus on the articulation between ethnography and design fictions. More specifically it will address how designers engage with the mundane aspects of everyday life in order to speculate about near future worlds3 : what kind of roles can be assigned to observations about people’s practices ? How the understanding of curious interaction rituals with technology contributes to the design process ? Why is the focus on the mundane and the ordinary important in the context of design ? How is that different from user-centered design and other forms of user research ? 

Based on a series of activities and discussions, as a follow-up to the book « Beyond Design Ethno-graphy : How Designers Practice Ethnographic Research4 », the goals of this workshop are twofold : 1. Discuss the articulation between field research and speculation, 2. Build a research agenda to explore such issues.