Modelling Design Fiction: What’s The Story?

Lindley, J., Coulton, P. Modelling Design Fiction: What’s The Story? (pdf)


This paper is intended to be read alongside the design fiction film Heating Britain’s Homes1. It uses the film to explore questions relating to the methods employed when creating a design fiction. Design fictions are “deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change” [1] by employing a “conflation of design, science fact, and science fiction” [2]. Design fictions do not aim to present or develop ‘finished’ designs, but rather they use design methods to “create a discursive space within which new forms of cultural artefact might emerge” [3]. As a design fiction piece, the ‘discursive space’ that this film addresses relates to disruptive possibilities associated with cryptographic currencies such as Bitcoin [4][5]. However, for the purposes of this paper the film and its concern with cryptographic currency are secondary and subservient to a discussion of design fiction practice itself. A three- layered model of design fiction is proposed as a communication device to help contextualise the various ideas used in the film, and as a tool to be applied in the creation, and analysis, of design fiction more generically. The paper concludes by positing questions with a view to taking steps towards formal design fiction methods.

Author Biographies

Joseph Lindley is a PhD candidate at the HighWire Centre for Doctoral Training (Lancaster University, UK). Prior to beginning his PhD, he has experience as an IT professional, artist & musician, and a manager in a healthcare organisation. His PhD research is concerned with the emerging field of Design Fiction.

Paul Coulton, Lancaster University, UK