We like design projects where we get to ask a lot of “what if” questions. These projects involve many potential outcomes that should be explored before practical any design work begins. Usually, we do this by creating storyboards from drawings, photos and UI mockups, and sometimes we also produce vision videos.
When clients commission exploratory work, we usually focus on the positive outcomes of new products or services. This makes sense when clients want to pitch a compelling vision to their stakeholders or customers. Still, some innovations might also have interesting or weird side effects. While undesirable futures can be important to explore, they are rarely the focus of commercial design.
Critical perspectives on emerging and fictive technology is much more common in sci-fi, where Black Mirror might be the best example today. Speculative Everything is an excellent collection of design fiction and Adrian Hon’s History of the Future describes the potential consequences of 100 objects from the future.
While most "what if" projects we carry out for clients are never published, we can sometimes share exploratory work at events and conferences. Our latest design exploration of Toy Story and IoT turned into the presentation above and a post on Hackernoon.