Distinguished Speaker 9 – Fiona Raby (Dunne & Raby)

The United Micro Kingdoms (UmK)

Public Lecture + Reception
November 14, 2013
4 – 6pm

We called them micro-kingdoms rather than micro-states or micro-nations suggesting they are more like fables or tales based on imagination rather than hard scenarios based on analysis and reason — somewhere between sci-fi and foresight.

Architects have long developed master plans for cities and regions but can designers contribute to these future propositions? Is it possible to talk about big ideas through small things? Would the viewer imagine the bigger world the designs belong to and move from the specific to the general?

This was our aim. To “tell worlds rather than stories,” as Bruce Sterling aptly puts it.

Proposals are closer to literature than social science, emphasizing imagination over practicality, they ask questions rather than provide answers. To be effective, they need to contain contradictions and cognitive glitches. Rather than offering an easy way forward, they highlight dilemmas and trade-offs between imperfect alternatives. Not a solution, not a “better” way, just another way.

If our belief systems and ideas don’t change, then reality won’t change either.

Located in the Design & Computation Arts Department, 1515 Saint Catherine St. W., Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex, Room 6.720, Montreal, QC.

The Aesthetics of Unreality

November 15, 2013
2 to 4pm

How do you design for unreality, and what should it look like? How should the unreal, parallel, impossible, unknown, and yet-to-exist be represented? And how, in a design, can you simultaneously capture the real and not-real? This is where the aesthetic challenge for speculative design lies, in successfully straddling both. Fall on either side and the frisson, the tension is lost. Projects from the Design Interactions program will be used to focus a discussion.

Located in the Hexagram Resource Centre, Concordia University, 1515 Saint Catherine St. W., Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex, Room 11.705, Montreal, QC.


Fiona Raby is a partner in the design partnership Dunne & Raby, established in 1994.She is professor of Industrial Design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, and a Reader in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art in London. Dunne & Raby use design as a medium to stimulate discussion and debate amongst designers, industry and the public about the social, cultural and ethical implications of existing and emerging technologies.

Their work has been exhibited at MOMA, the Pompidou Centre, and the Science Museum in London and is in the permanent collections of MOMA, V&A, FRAC and FNAC. They have published two books: Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects (Princeton Architectural Press) and Hertzian Tales (MIT Press). A new book Speculative Everything; design, fiction and social dreaming, will be published by MIT Press November 2013.

Image: Dunne & Raby. Transport: Communo-nuclearists (Carriage 52). The United Micro Kingdoms. 2012.