Proposal Development Unit | Major Project Developing…

This blog combines a series of critical reflective assignments, including my thinking and research on the direction of the topic, my personal skills, strengths and weaknesses. As well as some of the methodologies and approaches applied in developing the research questions.

Week 1 Self and Peer Assessment

Having finished all the collaborative project units, it was time to move on to the major project. I can’t believe I’m going to be facing a project on my own, what topic do I choose? Who would I connect with? What am I really interested in? A million questions came up…

In fact, one of the things that the Masters programme has been forcing me to do is to reflect. Reflecting on myself is a ‘painful’ thing to do, and reflecting on unpleasant things makes you ‘relive’ the unhappiness. But I am grateful that the tutors have advised us from the beginning to always reflect, and indeed, it has been very valuable.

In the first week, the class was asked to complete a self and peer assessment exercise: we were required to write down our strengths and weaknesses, passions, future plans and networks. after completing the self-assessment, we were asked to browse other classmates’ self-assessments and comment on them.

What did I learn from doing the exercise for yourself?

All I can say is that these questions are “too hard”. Although I have reflected on myself more in these seven months than I have in years, I still find that my perception of myself is very vague and I am too embarrassed to name my strengths and too afraid to confront my weaknesses. Still, one has to step out of one’s comfort zone. Actually, when putting together the things I enjoy and the things I find difficult, I can easily identify the parts of myself that are lacking and need improvement as well as the points that can boost my self-confidence, which is very helpful to reflect on. This series of questions seemed to force me to make a choice and made me start thinking about it, which was the right thing to do and made it clear to me that there are some obstacles that will come up in the future, whether they are my own or external.

What did I learn from other people’s comments?

Although the self-assessment questions were difficult for me, the Peer assessment was one of my favourite parts. I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments to themselves and to the other peers. I found that everyone seemed to be particularly hard and critical of themselves, but showed particular encouragement, support and empathy for peers. Although we rarely had the opportunity to meet because we were separated by the internet due to pandemic, it was easy to see that we were all committed to being active service designers.

Although I have left the comfort zone of teamwork and the trepidation of facing a major project on my own, I am still very excited to see how I will perform in the next 6 months. I hope that even though we are working on separate projects, we can still rely on each other for support and encouragement.

Week 2 Exploring Behavioural Change in The Social Community During the Pandemic

Due to the sweeping changes in our lives with COVID-19, community is more important than ever in the face of uncertainty and hardship. In the face of the pandemic, people had to but also changed their behaviour on their own.

The pandemic has truly transformed communities. When extremes occur, it is found that the community is the last line of defence, the community is the capillary that best reflects the cold and the warm. Community governance, community service development, community human environment, are so critical.

The orderliness and watchfulness that people want is actually hidden in the community. The isolation that is universally agreed upon and strictly enforced in the pandemic prevention and control system is due to the belief that obedience is sometimes a virtue and that those around you can influence each other.

They say that community services have to wait for an opportunity, but we didn’t expect it to come from the pandemic. People used to value the “last mile” of service, so they came up with a lot of sharing economy solutions. The community service industry is not just about sinking commercial resources and power, or mechanically solving pain points. It is rich in content and organic in itself, and should be considered as the centre of a circle, pursuing “zero-kilometre” services, not only to shorten the physical distance, but also to shorten the psychological distance.

The necessities of life, which can be distributed around it, have been tested very well in the particular circumstances (models) of the pandemic. So in the future, could education, healthcare, pensions and other people’s most relevant human-centred issues also be rethought and rearranged with this as the origin?

In short, communities, because they revolve around the life cycle of people, have very much to do, to be broken down and improved. The roots of people are there and cannot be over-served.

Humanity is rarely faced with the same thing. And that is the case now. Whenever I think of this, I think, isn’t this the best time for new ideas and wisdom to arise? At a time when the pandemic challenges humanity the most, people find themselves most in need of technology and new ideas. As a service designer, I hope to bring new ideas and perspectives through what I have learned. Our world needs observers, responders, experimenters and guardians at all times, not a variety of uninspired and constantly repetitive things and statements.

Providing a positive and clear experience for people is the approach and principle of service design. This fits well with social organisations and communities and as a newcomer to service design I am looking forward to seeing it applied more and more to improve the lives of people and communities.

Week 3 Speculative or Critical or Fiction?

Let’s start with a project by Dunne & Raby in 2013 called United Micro Kingdom, which is an experimental society based on modern times, and which projects four different directions of possible futures:
• a neoliberal society incorporating digital technology.
•a democratic society incorporating biotechnology.
•a society of self-reformers under anarchism.
•a communist society with unlimited nuclear energy resources.
Each region is an experimental zone where forms of governance, economic forms and lifestyles can be freely developed. It can be described as a typical example of Speculative Design.

In the tradition of philosophical translation, the word ‘speculative’ is often translated as ‘discursive’, and ‘specualtive’ in different contexts is itself very diverse. Whereas discursive concentrates on the level of thinking, design is figurative and implemented in the practical aspect(Iadarola and Starnino, 2018). Translated as discursive design, it translates the philosophical object into the object of ‘technology’, which emphasises the caution of another parallel world, based more on the technical reality of the real world, than on the non-realistic aesthetics of imagination and fiction, which can stand up to scrutiny.

Speculative design is more deterministic than imaginative and is a precursor to critical design, which first appeared in the Hertzian Tale in 1999 and was later formalised by Dunne and Raby. The concept was primarily driven by a concern for the blind optimism of technology and was a reflective design direction in response to current life situations and social issues.

Faraday Chair(Dunne & Raby, 1995) is a small-sized utilitarian refuge, protecting itself from electromagnetic intrusion and critiquing the proliferation of electronics
Substitute Phone(Schillinger, 2017) Alternative mobile phones for people with mobile phone addiction

This challenge and attempt to take on people’s extreme ideas has attracted a lot of attention and research in the design world. But is design that is heavy-handed, didactic and satirical a criticism of society? This is probably why in 2013 Dunne & Raby reintroduced Speculative Design as a new concept in their ‘Speculative Everything’, and it is easy to see in the above example that critical design does not contain the future-proofness of speculative design.

I think speculative design is like a critical design with a timeline; the former has more future possibilities than the latter, and speculative design is like a system that exists to expand the multiplicity of future possibilities. Speculation, re-think, irony and a certain amount of black humour are some of the more obvious features of its work. Many people draw comparisons between speculative design and science fiction film and television, but when we talk about reflective science fiction narratives or films, such as Westworld and Black Mirror, the speculation about the future is really close.

So as time goes on, more and more new concepts with a certain bias are being proposed, such as Design Fiction(Sterling, 2009). When we look at all of these concepts together, rather than being branches of a particular tree, they all come from a reflection of people’s values about the future as well as the present, mirroring a certain era’s imagination and reflections on the future.

The future needs new imagination and tools to build it, and design fiction can help us use tangible objects as tools to critically explore and think about future possibilities(Roselló, 2017). Design fiction would help us to draw inspiration from the details of everyday life, and explore the new-normal of the future, rather than ‘predict’ it too much.

Because each of us plays a small role in this huge world system, if we see a product that is relevant to each of us, if we can start to think and change our behaviour a little bit differently about the times we are living in, it will have achieved its original purpose.

Annotated Bibliography

With the advent of new societal, cultural and economic logics and models, new imaginaries for the future are needed along with new tools to construct them.

Plausible futures: those that for reasons such as social, political and economic tendencies of the present are not as likely to happen as the first category, but where the knowledge and resources for them to be viable already exist, and in the face of an unforeseen historical event (or “black swan” as they are called) or simply a change in powers, the factors of probability could alter, changing them into a probable future.

One of the main concepts worked with is the diegetic prototype.This field is not exclusive to cinema; rather it is a resource that has been used in the field of critical design and of speculative design, and is being employed in strategic thinking or in innovation for diverse purposes.

Thus then, design fiction is becoming the new science fiction, a new cultural space where reflection on, and the creation of future scenarios adapts over time, where speed is more accelerated and, to a certain extent, we live in intermittences between the futures desired by certain corporations, and the negation or powerlessness to imagine new ones.

Girardin, F. (2015). Our Approach of Design Fiction. Medium. Available at: [Accessed 12 Jun. 2021].

One of our objectives at Near Future Laboratory is to help carry Design Fiction to maturity and any interrogation or critique from the public is a source of reflection and an opportunity for describing our understanding as to what Design Fiction is, how it’s best practiced, and in what ways it can evolve. In Design Fiction we makes implications without making predictions.

To contrast with other similar design approaches, we think Design Fiction is a bit different from critical design, which is a bit more abstract and theoretical compared to our own interest in design happening outside of galleries or museums. This goal makes us think about the right artifact or the right format to start a discussion with people about these stakes and uncover hidden perspectives.

It’s not necessarily about making people believe that these things have already happened in reality, with a fictional product for example, but to raise awareness that there are weird possibilities and changes going on.

Our approach of Design Fiction is a way to perform “micro” future studies that pays particular attention on the everyday life (e.g. the rituals, the behaviors, the frictions), its short term evolution (3–5 years) and the standard objects or services that might fill these possible futures.

Coulton, P., Lindley, J. and Akmal, H.A. (2016). Design Fiction: Does the search for plausibility lead to deception? DRS2016: Future-Focused Thinking. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Jun. 2021].

Since its inception the term ‘design fiction’ has generated considerable interest as a future-focused method of research through design whose aim is to suspend disbelief about change by depicting prototypes inside diegeses, or ‘story worlds’.

In the essay Bleecker cites include David Kirby’s research into how science informs and is represented in cinema, where the diegesis is the interior of any given story world (2010) .

From a design perspective, considering how to imbue speculative design concepts with plausibility is a significant challenge, given that plausibility is a subjective matter and is personal to each person engaging with a design fiction.

In terms of proposed useage, clearly using this device to detect rogue androids is not a plausible scenario, so we envisaged the device as a way of gauging empathic responses in online communications between individuals not known to each other, for example on online dating sites.

This seems to support the earlier example of Loizeau and Auguer’s Tooth Impact, that the journalists may be attracted to the story worlds created by design fiction, and it would be easy to try and garner publicity by creating a hoax that was only marginally more elaborate than this design fiction.

Groenewegen, A. (2019). What is Behavioural Design? [online] SUE | Behavioural Design. Available at:

This blog post is an extended introduction of Behavioural Design. The most pragmatic definition of Behavioural Design we came up with so far, is the following: Behavioural Designers combine Psychology, Design, Technology, and Creative Methods to find out why people do the things they do and to figure out through experimentation how to activate them to change their behaviour.
Design Consultancy Ideo, the godfathers of Design Thinking uses this simple graphic to explain the process: When you combine the method of Design Thinking with Behavioural Sciences, you will get Design Thinking on Steroids.
We take the human behind the customer as our focal point, and we try to figure out what this human needs to be successful, which anxieties, doubts, prejudices or bad habits he hold that stand in the way of embracing the desired behaviour, or which pains or frustrations we could solve for him.
Behavioural Designers work with principles from the science of influence The next step in the Behavioural Design Method is about turning a deep understanding of the forces that explain people’s behaviours, into ideas for behavioural change.

Boyce, M.R. and Katz, R. (2019). Community Health Workers and Pandemic Preparedness: Current and Prospective Roles. Frontiers in Public Health, 7.

Recognizing that CHWs already play a role in pandemic preparedness, we feel that expanding the roles and responsibilities of CHWs represents a practical means of improving pandemic and community-level resilience.

However, despite their establishment at the community level, CHWs are often under-utilized in the response to infectious disease outbreaks and additional roles for CHWs in promoting pandemic preparedness exist.

Another adaptive role that CHWs contribute to is disease surveillance. This role was validated in Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone during the 2014 Ebola epidemic where CHWs conducted community surveillance activities and reported suspected Ebola cases to public health authorities.

Through their routine work, CHWs contribute to inherent resilience and pandemic preparedness by increasing access to health products and services, distributing health information, and reducing the burden felt by the formal healthcare system — all of which act to buffer against emergencies.


Boyce, M.R. and Katz, R. (2019). Community Health Workers and Pandemic Preparedness: Current and Prospective Roles. Frontiers in Public Health, 7.

Dunne, A. & Raby, F. (2013). Speculative everything: Design, fiction and social dreaming. London: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dzewaltowski, D.A. (2004). Behavior change intervention research in community settings: how generalizable are the results? Health Promotion International, 19(2), pp.235–245.

Groenewegen, A. (2019). What is Behavioural Design? [online] SUE | Behavioural Design. Available at:

Happe, R. (n.d.). The Key to Community Success: Behavior Change. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jun. 2021].

Iadarola, A. and Starnino, A. (2018). Speculative Design and Service Design: A False Dichotomy. Touchpoint: Designing the Future, 10(2), pp.48–53.

Meyers, A.W., Meyers, H.H. and Craighead, W.E. (1981). Community Behavior Change. Behavior Modification, 5(2), pp.147–170.

Suarez-Balcazar, Y., Francisco, V.T. and Jason, L.A. (2019). Behavioral Community Approaches. [online]

MA Service Design, LCC