The Manual of Design Fiction


“The Manual of Design Fiction is an unparalleled, rigorous insight into the philosophy and practice of design fiction from the pioneers of the approach. With this extensive publication, The Near Future Laboratory demonstrate the need and urgency of bringing design fiction approaches to business. This book is not a step by step how-to guide nor is it a treasure trove of quick fix methods and tools for those interested in applying design fiction to their work. Rather, and more importantly, this is a book about an approach, a philosophy, a mindset. And a crucial one at that; one that will not limit us to tools we already use to address familiar problems, but rather an approach that opens up the ways in which we can address uncertainty and traverse new possibilities.” Anab Jain – designer, futurist, filmmaker and educator, co-founder of Superflux

Written by Julian Bleecker, Nick Foster, Fabien Girardin and Nicolas Nova with Chris Frey and Patrick Pittman; additional contributions by Israel Viadest
Edited by Chris Frey and Patrick Pittman of No Media

We find ourselves at a moment in time when an increasingly complex state of the world – and our place within it – makes an orientation towards the future not only relevant, but essential. Today, no future is improbable, which is why the unanticipated white space – the void of unknown unknowns – must be investigated, considered and discussed at all levels of an organization.

From climate change and economic instability to rising inequality and the fragility of democratic institutions, we face a panoply of uncertainties. For too long major decision makers have largely treated the future as a matter of business modeling, an engineering problem, some sort of sexy vision exercise, or savvy marketing campaign to foment anticipation around future products. What we need are alternative frameworks or mindsets for decision making that consider solutions along with their risks and implications, while incorporating a diversity of both disciplinary and human viewpoints. Design fiction is a method to vividly render tangible future scenarios before taking action, using a process that is broadly collaborative and includes a variety of stakeholders or interests.

This book explores the origins of design fiction, from the individuals who defined the practice, details the practical approach to assessing the consequences of decision making by creating tangible artifacts from possible futures. Design fiction opens up new conversations and considerations whilst augmenting existing, well-trodden research and foresight practices.

The Near Future Laboratory has used design fiction approaches with clients such as Apple, Warner Bros, IKEA, Samsung, Edelman, Dubai Museum of the Future, Google, Meta and many more. This book aims to bring these techniques and the approach to a wider audience, to help us all imagine harder in order to begin materializing the futures we want to inhabit.

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