To Be Designed // Detroit // October 1-3

In a week’s time the gang will convene in Detroit to create a product catalog of things from the future. We’re putting our Design Fiction insights, experience, skills and moxie to the task of imagining — what are the things one might see in some future fictional catalog of stuff.

We’re not being precious, because there are interesting things from the future that are not all bright and gleamy and iPhone-y. There’s so much more to the world than the first world’s favorite digital devices. There’s lots more fun things than that. So, we’ve been seriously considering using something akin to “Skymall” as our conceptual model. Lots of weird things that lots of people seem fascinated by and I guess must actually sell, otherwise I suspect Skymall would’ve folded ages ago. (Unless there’s some weird business model they’re working under that maintains the business despite the fact that people aren’t buying, like..Sasquatch garden statuettes and LED hair growth helmets and the like.)

In any case, this is what we’re going to set out to do. At some point after the workshop itself, we’ll produce and print the catalog itself. In true Design Fiction fashion, it will be a prop around which conversations happen about desirable and undesirable futures. We’ll use it to speculate and ponder and have fun. To do some real creative play. Learn about techniques and approaches to doing design work that is solid and good and all that — but also fun.

It’s a small group gathering there in Detroit because this is all a prototype of a workshop that we hope to do more of in the future, so we’re learning and testing our process.

It’s in Detroit because I called up John and asked him what the weather was like in early fall and he said it was fine. Plus Detroit is good and weird and — on this map I drew on an index card — about half way between Venice Beach and the western bits of Europe.

It’s called “To Be Designed” because there’s a tattered, Zizekian pun somewhere in there between the acronym “TBD” and the kind of future that is always endlessly not quite yet. Or something.

We made a work kit to go along with the workshop to test some facilitation technologies. It has a random number generator and a deck of cards to create minimal design briefs, and a book of useful design idioms. It’s going to be hellafun.

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