Hack #3: Speculative Design

Over the past few weeks we’ve been working with the Circuit Playground. For this next hack you’ll develop a speculative MVP (minimally viable product) with the device. Think of this as a “design fiction.” Your goal is not to create a solution or solve a problem, but to explore the problem itself.

We are guided here by Dunne and Raby’s approach to A/B design, where “A” represents the way an engineer or conventional designer might approach a problem, while “B” represents the way an artist or speculative designer sees the problem:

Conventional Design (A)

  • Affirmative
  • Problem solving
  • Provides answers
  • Design for production
  • Fictional functions
  • For how the world is
  • Applications
  • Innovation
  • Concept design
  • Consumer
  • Make us buy
  • Ergonomics
  • User-friendliness

Speculative Design (B)

  • Critical
  • Problem finding
  • Asks questions
  • Design for debate
  • Functional fictions
  • For how the world could be
  • Implications
  • Provocation
  • Conceptual design
  • Citizen
  • Make us think
  • Rhetoric
  • Ethics


This hack is a solo project. As usual, you’ll create an exhibit on your domain that includes an artist statement of about 1,000 words. In this statement you’ll delve into the more theoretical elements of your hack, drawing out your meditation on the “hands-on imperative” this hack embodies.

In addition to the Circuit Playground hack and artist statement, you should also document the development of your hack. Post still images, short videos, sketches, etc. onto your domain. The material related to this hack will make up the first exhibit for your end-of-the-semester portfolio.

We’ll present the hacks in class on March 17, and the artist statement and documentation will be due by the end of the following day.


I’ll approach your hack using the following criteria:

  • Unexpectedness (the extent to which the project defies expectations or produces surprising results or reactions)
  • Craft (the degree of style, use of the Circuit Playground, as well as digital representation)
  • Intention (the sense of intentionality and deliberateness of the work)
  • Theme (the level of engagement with the concepts of critical play, agonistic design, hacking, speculative design, and so on)
  • Argument (the degree to which your project makes a case against the logic of conventional design)