As Far As I Can Tell

Fictional products as research probes

I ran across an interesting article, Creative Gesture or Vapid Prototyping?, on Adobe’s site yesterday about fictional products and the narrative forms that bring them to life. The examples may be just for fun or a bit sci-fi but I love these sorts of projects and see some relevance for project work as well.

Often times Interaction Design experience prototypes are focused on conveying a realistic experience of use, but the idea of a fictional product is more about probing a pure idea. What role can this sort of thinking play in our projects and where would it fit in the process? Inherent in these fictional products is that they convey an idea, and are thus meant to be shared and discussed. I keep thinking about using this approach for research probes; creating post-brainstorm fictional products that embody wild ideas for soliciting feedback.

Fictional products don’t have to be just for letting off steam, when designers play with alternate futures and new behaviors they are prototyping potential new relationships. The article doesn’t bring it up specifically but one can’t help but think of Critical Design in this context. I have previously associated fictionalized products with the sort of critical approach taken at the Design Interactions program of the RCA. I quite respect that work and the broadened cultural scope it gives to design, but there may be more productive and process oriented roles for fictional products to play as well.



As far as who can tell?

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