Research and Design Fiction

This project was a collaboration with Digital Laundry where we worked with people in their eighties and nineties who were thriving in older age. We conducted an in depth qualitative study to better understand how they made older age such a positive experience and illustrated our findings with design fiction. Design research has been criticized as “solutionist” i.e. solving problems that don’t exist or providing “quick fixes” for complex social, political and environmental problems. We responded to this critique by presenting a “solutionist” board game used to generate design concepts. Players are given data cards and technology dice, they move around the board by pitching concepts that would support positive aging. We argue that framing concept design as a solutionist game explicitly foregrounds play, irony and the limitations of technological intervention. Three of the game concepts are presented as design fictions in the form of advertisements for products and services that do not exist. The paper argues that design fiction can help create a space for design beyond solutionism.