Material Speculation: Actual Artifacts for Critical Inquiry


  • Ron Wakkary Simon Fraser University, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada; Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands
  • William Odom Simon Fraser University, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
  • Sabrina Hauser Simon Fraser University, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
  • Garnet Hertz Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Henry Lin Simon Fraser University, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada



Material Speculation, Speculative Design, Design Fiction, Critical Inquiry


Speculative and fictional approaches have long been implemented in human-computer interaction and design techniques through scenarios, prototypes, forecasting, and envisionments. Recently, speculative and critical design approaches have reflectively explored and questioned possible, and preferable futures in HCI research. We propose a complementary concept – material speculation – that utilizes actual and situated design artifacts in the everyday as a site of critical inquiry. We see the literary theory of possible worlds and the related concept of the counterfactual as informative to this work. We present five examples of interaction design artifacts that can be viewed as material speculations. We conclude with a discussion of characteristics of material speculations and their implications for future design-oriented research.


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How to Cite

Wakkary, R., Odom, W., Hauser, S., Hertz, G., & Lin, H. (2015). Material Speculation: Actual Artifacts for Critical Inquiry. Aarhus Series on Human Centered Computing, 1(1), 12.



Charismatic Materiality