Frictions, Fictions, Futures -Designerly ways of dealing with difference in an unstable world (Kopie 1)

Block-Seminar Master alle Fakultäten ab 1. FS 2 SWS | 3 ECTS

Course description

“As we look back at the design efforts and their implementation, and we contemplate the tasks that are posed in the world today, our feelings are very mixed. We are energized by the great power our technological knowledge bestows on us. We are intimidated by the magnitude of the problems it creates or alerts us to. We are sobered by the very limited success­­––and sometimes disastrous failure––of past efforts to design on the scale of whole societies. We ask: “if we can go to the moon, why can’t we …? ––not expecting an answer, for we know that going to the moon was a simple task indeed, compared with some others we have set for ourselves, such as creating a humane society or a peaceful world. Wherein lies the difference.” (Herbert Simon, 1996)

Design researchers/ practitioners who deal with the questions of design and transformation are familiar with the issues of having to work with the values and interests of different stakeholders that are often in tension with each other. In what ways does ‘fiction’ help relate to the complex and competing values of the vast number of stakeholders (human and more-than-human) of the design process at a studio level or an institutional level? What role does storytelling have when the question of difference(plurality) is not one of epistemology but ontology (pluriversal)? How does design fiction relate to questions of truth(fact), the politics of neoliberalism, and the commonsense it manufactures? What are the possibilities of engaging with ‘design-fictioning’ to deal with conflicting values and conflicting worlds?

By using these questions as a departure point, this workshop will offer the students an opportunity to explore the potential of design fiction both theoretically and in the context of a real-life project.

Program format- 6 workshop days (Fridays)+ individual consultations (as required)

Program (Important dates)

Note: each day will have a morning session dedicated to the discussion of readings and an afternoon session for prototyping work.

Language- all reading sessions will be conducted in English. Students can conduct their project in English or German.

Expected output- The participants would explore ways of using design fiction in the context of a given real-life case study and produce their own DFs. (More details to follow)

However, those who may want to pursue their own cases/ contexts would be encouraged to do so.

Reading sessions (Themes and Texts)


Wicked problems: social complexity, plurality of stakeholders, framing

1.     Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M. M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Berkeley: Institute of Urban and Regional Development, University of California.
2.     Schon, D. A. and R. Martin. (1994). Frame ReflectionTowards resolution of intractable policy controversyBasic Books-Harper Collins (pp. xii-xx, pp. 23-37)
3.     Borrows, L. K. (2018). Otter’s Journey through Indigenous Language and Law. Vancouver: 
UBC Press.


Designing in the pluriverse: When difference is an ontological question

1.     Escobar, A. (2018). Designs for the pluriverse: Radical interdependence, autonomy, and the making of worlds. Durham: Duke University Press.
2.     Savransky, M. (2021). Around the day in eighty worlds: Politics of the pluriverse.
3.     KrenakA. (2020). Ideas to postpone the end of the world. House of Anansi Press.


Truth games: truth, fact, fiction

1.     Spencer, D. (2018). The architecture of neoliberalism: How contemporary architecture became an instrument of control and compliance. London: Bloomsbury Academic.( Pages 1-5 and 2 chapters)
2.     Fry, T. (2021). Writing design fiction: Relocating a city in crisis. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts.


The playful, the fictional

1.     Bateson, G. (2002). Mind and nature: A necessary unity. Cresskill, N.J: Hampton Press., pgs.12-18
2.     Benjamin, W., Klee, P., & Dolbear, S. (2016). The storyteller: Tales out of loneliness. London: Verso.
3.     Flanagan, M. (2013). Critical play: Radical game design. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Alle Interessierten wenden sich bitte bis 10.04.22 an Frau Perera dulmini.perera[at]


Ort jeweils Belvederer Allee 5, R. 005 

Program format- 6 workshop days (Fridays)+ individual consultations (as required)

Program (Important dates)

Note: each day will have a morning session dedicated to the discussion of readings and an afternoon session for prototyping work.

April 15 short intro session 

April 22 WORKSHOP reading discussion(theme1) + project

April 29 WORKSHOP reading discussion(theme2) + project 

May 06 WORKSHOP reading discussion(theme3) + project 

May 27 WORKSHOP reading discussion(theme4) + project

June 10 WORKSHOP presentation (finetuning project)

June 17 WORKSHOP presentation (presentation and suggestion for improvement)

July 15 final submission of refined project for grading