This is in the mould of the Neil Spiller book, Visionary Architecture. On the one hand it is a survey, in this case of speculative design, and on the other it is a well meaning compilation of the work of the authors' former students and others. Accordingly it is not the broadest most authoritative possible survey of the state of speculative design, but there is plenty here to interest and engage. Rather like wandering round a Degree show for the local arts and design course.
The thesis of the book is that by designing things, from items to countries, that are just there to provoke thought, we can help ourselves pick out a better future for ourselves. The book is brim full of interesting stuff, and well illustrated with colour photos. For Kindle the book design is rather nice, with a custom font, which I had not seen before. The font spacing is odd though, the letters “s” and “e” sit too far apart and a few extra spaces have appeared, particularly where there text has been italicised.
I am not familiar enough with this field to comment on the originality of the work, but it is written with genuine authority, enthusiasm, generosity and a lightness of touch. If you have any interest in this field then you will recognise some of the projects cited. I do feel that it is currently slightly over-priced, at nearly twenty pounds for Kindle, and it would have been nice to get beyond the design stage to get a feel for the impacts of such speculative design work beyond the narrow confines of the design community.
Points to a synthesis of critical and post-critical design...the RCA money machine will probably loose them to the better research oriented and cleverer Americans, the Dutch or the Austrians, which would be a shame for the UK.
MIT Press should be embarrassed to publish such an awful book. I bought this hoping that it might allude to or move in any kind of momentous direction towards reaching something new and interesting or at the least contemporary. But it's simply a careful stitching together of other academics research, glossed over and stapled across the work of their students.
Very disappointing and quite frankly derivative nonsense, for those that have ever actually read any theory in art, design or even economics. The over-arching futures meets design approach is not only naive, it's antiquated. Most of this original kind of thinking you will find in Ezio Manzini's essay 'Prometheus of the Everyday' 1992 (that is to say, was originally expressed by Manzini over 20 years ago).
Very generic and disappointing book, that was sadly surprisingly shallow. If it had been written in the 60's, it could have been relevant. With a very dull selection of populist student work from the school to boot.