Experimental Design Tools
Experimenting with future-thinking and life-centred tool design
Experiment, evolve, and re-share
Experiment, evolve, and re-share
Future Design Mission
Flip cards to mix future technologies, interaction methods, and core values to generate your design mission in alternate futures.
Future Scouting Design Game
My own contribution to speculative design, Future Scouting encourages designers to design with values in mind. Each game will have a Key Value determined at the start of the game (e.g. Kindness, Security, Health, etc.). The players’ mission is to design a future invention that most enables the Key Value. But it is also about the process the players go through that pushes them to conceptualise an experience beyond normal parameters.
Core Values List
Once you know your personal core values, you’ll know what to stand for in life and what to champion in any design process.
Product Lifecycle Impact Cards
As product creators, we are not just producing an item with a lifecycle defined by human use, but also by its sourcing, manufacturing, repair, life of use, and breakdown.
What non-users and non-humans are affected across all stages, and how do these affected non-humans affect those they come into contact with? Use these cards to dive into the true life-cycle of your product/invention.
Holistic Futures Wheel
To guide the design of new products with consideration of the environment and other lifeforms.
Non-human and non-user personas
Visual characterisations of the stakeholders we usually ignore—the environment and non-users impacted by a product’s lifecycle.
Step-by-step speculative design guide book
Future Scouting combines product design, design thinking, life-centred design, and science fiction into one complete method with downloadable resources.
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Tools from across the world
The Thing From The Future
The Thing From The Future is an award-winning ideation card game for individuals or teams that challenges players to articulate objects from alternative futures. The deck consists of 108 cards of four suits — the type of future the thing comes from, its thematic context, its basic form, and the emotion the object generates in someone from the present. The many speculative designs produced can be used for further exploration and innovation.
Another great tool for inspiring ideation is the beautiful Future Scan map from the Board of Innovation. It offers over 150 potential future scenarios based on next-gen technologies and societal changes. The map can be used either as a simple exercise by choosing a number from the map and brainstorming that scenario, or as one tool in a larger speculative design process.
The Tarot Cards of Tech
The Tarot Cards of Tech inspires product designers to envision alternate futures of their product or idea. From the unseen and negative to the hoped-for and ideal, the process helps creators slow down and consider more deeply the impact of their product beyond the obvious needs of its users. Created by Artefact, a U.S. strategy and design firm.
Science fiction prototyping
Futurist Brian David Johnson developed science fiction prototyping in 2010. Its core methodology involves generating a three-act story as a speculative design prototype.
Act 1: Ideate a future — choose a technology to explore and ideate the future experience
Act 2: Scientific inflection point — introduce a catastrophe and story its repercussions
Act 3: Human inflection point — explore and articulate how a user would remedy the situation
The story is then used for reflection discussions and further product innovation.
Actant Mapping Canvas
Design anthropologist Monika Sznel has designed the Actant Mapping Canvas, a thoughtful tool incorporating more consideration into our design for our fellow lifeforms and the ecosystem we all rely on. That’s thinking about the future! Read more about the tool and environment-centered design here.