Reimagining the Past, Present, and Future Using Critical Design Fiction

(workshop canceled for INTERACT 2021 conference, more information coming in Oct 2021)

For more information and news about events on Researchers' toolbox for the future, please see here.

Critical Design Fiction (CDF) is an emerging design approach for imagining and exploring technological futures, in a variety of contexts and by various people, and speculate on futures that are probable, possible, and even provocative and empowering. In this two-day workshop, we employ CDF to explore and imagine the future of relationships - friendships, love, and romance - amidst a pandemic that has socially ravaged the entire world. Our changing relationship with each other and with technology is an opportunity for us to reconsider and redefine human bonding and intimacy. Day one consists of expert presentations and discussions on CDF and novel perspectives for thinking about the future. Participants work in small teams of 4-6 with a moderator to collaboratively consider future, or past/present, scenarios, services, or products that assist in creating and/or nurturing human (or non-human) relationships. Participants have 24 hours to create a print, audio, or video advert for their product or service. On day two teams finalize their advert and present them to the larger group. This workshop aims to ignite innovative, and even provocative, ideas and alternative scenarios, building on this year’s conference theme of “Sense, Feel, Design”. 

Workshop outcomes

Participants are introduced to CDF and alternative ways to design for the future. Further, they will work in small teams to create print, audio, or video adverts during the two days of the workshop and with moderator assistance, showcasing their ideas. The adverts are imagined to be similar to Netflix’s Black Mirror series - of dystopian future, or even pasts and presents. Participants are also encouraged to discuss and critique the work or other teams in the last part of the workshop. The adverts will also be presented at the conference in the workshop presentations, and shared with a larger audience. In addition, they could be published as a zine, an independent publication, to be distributed outside an academic audience. At the end of the workshop, participants will be familiar with the concepts of CDF and could consider how to use it in a variety of scenarios and contexts.

Target Audience

The workshop is open to students, researchers, designers - with various backgrounds and expertise - as we all have an experience of the changing human-relationships during the pandemic. Familiarity with CDF is not a prerequisite for the workshop. We welcome participants who are eager to learn and experience a snapshot of CDF through this workshop, to team up with seasoned experts, designers, and teachers.

Participant sign-up

Details coming soon

Last updated: 2nd June 2021.


Dr. Sumita Sharma is a post-doc researcher at the INTERACT Research Unit at the University of Oulu. Her research work focuses on designing inclusive and collaborative technology for the classroom environment for children across the world, including children living in urban slums, children with special needs, and children in remote communities, and studying socio-technical opportunities for empowerment of children.

Dr. Netta Iivari is a Professor in Information Systems and research unit leader of INTERACT Research Unit in University of Oulu. She has a background in Cultural Anthropology as well as in Information Systems and HCI. Her long-lasting research interest concerns empowerment of children in and through design and technology. Her research is strongly influenced by interpretive and critical research traditions. Currently, she is examining critical design and Making in collaboration of children.

Dr. Marianne Kinnula is an Associate Professor of human-centred design and digitalization in INTERACT Research Unit in University of Oulu. She is interested in the sustainable development and use of technology in our everyday lives at different levels: individual, organizational and societal. Social inclusion, empowerment, and ethical stance in technology development and use are in the heart of her research.

Dr. Grace Eden is an Assistant Professor and the head of the Living Lab at IIITDelhi. She is an HCI researcher with a focus on examining transformations in people’s behaviour, communication practices, and interaction when new technologies are introduced into a setting. Her research interests include human-technology interaction, human-centered artificial intelligence, fieldwork for design, and participatory codesign of emerging technologies.

MSc. Rocío Fatás is a faculty of Human-Centered Design and Visual Communication at Srishti-Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology, where she leads the BDes HCD program. She has a background in Fine Arts and in Interactive Digital Media, and her area of research interest is the intersection of Technology, the Environment, and Human Imagination.

Dr. Noura Howell is an assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her reseach asks How can sensors and data invite more ethical, respectful ways of knowing ourselves and others? How can sensor technologies allow space for human differences, uncertainty, and the irreducible complexity of human experiences? She investigates ways of knowing with biosensory data - data about people’s bodies, behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. Combining critical making, speculative design, and participatory experiences, she challenges dominant techno-logics of data and explore alternatives. She works with code, circuits, wood, e-textiles, and sound.

Dr. Britta Schulte is a post-doctoral researcher at the Bauhaus-University in Weimar, Germany, where they undertake research into intimacy, especially in later life and the benefits and limitations of technology in this area. In their work, they often turn to design fiction and speculative design to develop alternative, preferable alternatives to current frames of what technology could and should do.

Dr. Amy Twigger Holroyd is a designer, maker, researcher and writer who has explored the emerging field of fashion and sustainability since 2004. Her work has been featured in various exhibitions, books and publications, from Vogue to Fashion Theory. Current initiatives include Stitching Together, a network fostering critical dialogue around participatory textile making methods in research and practice; and Fashion Fictions, a project  that brings people together to imagine and explore alternative fashion Worlds.