Shaping Signals: Preparing for the Future Through Speculative Design

Speculative and critical design are approaches that operate within design thinking that can be used as tools to surface and address social, cultural, and ethical issues that design for the future can bring. While these approaches have been labeled alarmist and sensational, they enable versatile thinking and serve as a platform for discovery, conversation, and awareness that can help fuel different perspectives of the future — alternate futures, potential futures, some desirable, some not. It’s up to us to use these exercises and inspiration to craft the right future built with imagination and responsibility.


This talk will walk through selected projects that play in the realm of speculative design and make the case for how it can be used to understand different challenges the future may hold. Dancing between dystopic futures that address famine and overpopulation to more light-hearted design fiction, Phil Balagtas will introduce design lenses that will allow participants to investigate signals in the present, project them into a point in the future, and manifest a product or service with considerations of the state of the future environment.


Photo of Phil Balagtas, a speaker at the Better by Design conference.

Phil Balagtas

Senior Designer/Researcher, GE Aviation
SF/ATX Speculative Futures