The resurrection of AHO PhD Live

Dear all PhD students, supervisors and researchers

As you all know we have a website for the AHO PhD students called

The last year or so this website has been more “dead” then live, and we would like to do something about that. Our aim is to make AHO PhD Live a site where information about all PhD related activities are found and posted publicly. But to do that we need your help.

I ask you to continuously update me on events that you think are relevant for PhD students at AHO. This can be lectures, seminars, reviews, conferences, lunches and other events. In addition we will also update AHO PhD live with all the events that are connected to the AHO PhD programme 2018-2019 as soon as the study plan is approved in FU this spring.

If you have an event that you think is interesting please send it to me, but I have to ask you to send it in the following format





Description of event:

Main target group:

Send to

Looking forward to hearing about relevant events.

AHO Research Day – Panel 1

Profession and Industry Research – Collaboration and Innovation

Simon Clatworthy, Marianne Støren Berg, Lisbeth Harboe, Marius Nygaaard

AHO Research Day – Panel 2: Inter– and trans–disciplinary research & cross–creative approaches

If possible it would be good to get beyond sappy agreement about the fact that interdisciplinary research is an absolute good. We know it is.

We will organise the panel like Gardeners Question Time in the UK (one of the BBC’s oldest radio programmes in case you haven’t ever heard it. The format is very simple: The presenter says: Mr. Bloggs from Manchester has a question: and then Mr Bloggs poses his question (“I’ve an interdisciplinary research project, forskalis cocreationis, planted on the north wall of a difficult research institution with poor soil. What is the best way of making it bloom?” and then the panel give their advice…

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Things that move – Lecture for AHO year 3 with Mari and Victor


This lecture discusses how architecture, the architect, architectural drawing and the idea of the architectural work were all re-invented during a period that stretches from around 1430 to 1590 and in a geographical area surrounding Rome and Northern Italy.

The lecture has four main parts:

On Architecture: A reading of the structure in Vitruvius De architectura that was reinterpreted during this period

On the Architect: A discussion about how the modern figure of the architect emerges in Leon Battista Alberti's De re aedificatoria

On drawing:  A discussion about how architectural representation developed from Francesco di Giorgio Martini to Giacomo Barrozzi da Vignola

On the work: A discussion ofa reinterpretation of what architectural work could be in the work of Domenico Fontana

In each section of the lecture, please post questions as blog posts on this blog; we will review the questions after each section.

William's Weekly Zotero Tip #5

What are you going to do when the journal wants your bibliography to look a certain way, but you can't seem to find the correct style at

You make it yourself of course, using the Zotero style editor. (Preferences->advanced->general->open style editor)

just like that...

weekly tip n.5 3.gif

Iver Tangen Stensrud - Topographies of print in nineteenth-century Christiania

From the early nineteenth century, a national public sphere was beginning to develop in Norway. One of the most important features in this development was the proliferation of printed books, newspapers and periodicals. From the 1830s, printers’ shops, publishers, bookstores and libraries were increasingly becoming an important part of the political and cultural life the Norwegian capital as well as becoming a prominent feature of the physical appearance of the city.

I argue that considering the specific places where print was sold and produced and their place in the urban topography provides us with a tangible understanding of the development of the public sphere in the nineteenth century. The public sphere often thought of as an abstract entity that suddenly appears sometime in the late-eighteenth or early nineteenth century. My aim is to place this public sphere back into its specific urban contexts, by producing a topography of print for nineteenth-century Christiania. Where were printers, publishers and booksellers located in relation to political, cultural, and economic institutions? Which parts of the city produced what kinds of print? Can we find relations with developments in the city and the location of printers, booksellers and publishers, and what did these places actually look like?

Using tax reports and address books, I map printers and booksellers in the city from the 1830s to about 1870. To get a sense of the places where print was produced and sold, I use what is available. Scattered accounts and histories of printers and booksellers, in addition to diary accounts, letters and travelogues can provide us not only with a more tangible understanding of the development of an urban public sphere, but also new ways of seeing urban life in nineteenth-century Christiania.

Mathilde Sprovin - The Drawing school in Christiania (Oslo) and the missing architecture students: An insight into the world of the archives

The Drawing school in Christiania was grounded in 1818. For the founders and the teachers at the school the intension was to create a Norwegian art academy. The school never achieved this status, but in the 19th century the Drawing school was the only public offer for education of trades men, artists and architects in Norway.

The architecture students at the Drawing school are the topic of my thesis, and the project will investigate the architecture tutorial, the schools position in the Norwegian public, and its significance for Norwegian architecture in the century. In the search for the education of the architecture students at the school I have formed some research questions: Who were the students? Who were their teachers? In which classes were the architecture students trained? How was the training organized?

A part of my work is to trace the architecture students in the archive material preserved by the school, in the more general historiography and architects biography. But the archive material is extensive, and in my work and search of answers I have to find a way of dealing with the material, a strategy that increases the chances of finding relevant information, and don´t get lost in details which are beyond the scope of my project.

My presentation addresses the complexity of working with literature and primary sources as the schools archive and archives by the ministry of education. This work constitutes the core of my ongoing research into the history of the Drawing school of Christiania.

Jun Ma - Urbanisation in Yinjiang

By looking into the urbanization process in Yinjiang for the past decades (especially the last 15 years), this article discusses the ongoing transformations happening at a township and village level through the lens of housing and planning.

Housing, which focuses on the regeneration within the territory of the town municipality, includes both of the newly built housing types initiated by local government and the real estate property developments driven by private capitals. The new housing types mentioned above refer to new villages that are five to six stories high to replace the existing natural villages, new residence built to accommodate local villagers who are over 23 years old but not able to afford an individual housing unit, and caring centers for elder villagers. These are government led projects aiming to level up housing standards of local residents. On the other hand are the commercial projects, their original strategy and actual sale conditions are also compared to illustrate the willingness or ability of the locals to buy so that the change of the structure of local housing system brought by real estate projects is highlighted.

Yinjiang is at the same time an experimental spot for the coordination of different types of planning, such as strategy planning, spatial planning and land planning. The first daft of a combined planning will come out soon and will provide necessary empirical material for this research.

William Kempton - Case study: Investigating approaches to New Product Development for Additive manufacturing (through interviewing)

The study seeks to investigate various approaches to developing consumer products for Additive Manufacturing.

New product Development (NDP) can be described as the collective process of conceptualising, developing and marketing of new products. With the availability of manufacturing methods such as Additive Manufacturing (AM), NPD processes are subject to change as new production methods make small-scale production feasible. This may open up for such things as products-on-demand, that are either customisable or enhanced to individual needs.

The study looks into several design cases using the qualitative interview as a method of research. The interview objects are designers who have performed specific design cases where AM considered a core method of production.

The research does not intend to a output a specific set of approaches to Designing for Additive Manufacturing.  Rather, it aims to present reflections that come out of the individual cases.

Sareh Saeidi - Creating heterogeneous atmospheres through context-specificity and climatic design in architecture

Today, many architectures have lost their contextual integrated character and turned into representational entities, independent from their local settings in which they exist. These entities employ an object-oriented approach towards architecture that is autonomous, and indifferent to its cultural and climatic environment. In such cases, architecture turns into power-oriented objects of individual or functional expression. And as Kengo Kuma states, these type of architecture could be argued in being the separator of inside and outside: “… making architecture into an object means distinguishing between its inside and outside and erecting a mass called inside in the midst of an outside” (Kuma, 2008).

This experimental project tries to redefine the boundaries of performative envelopes through providing diverse atmospheric qualities attuned by environmental factors and adaptive approaches in climatic design. The experiment aims at examining ways of integrating Multiple Envelope and Extended Threshold design approaches –mapped out as part of this research– to generate operative atmospheres (Leatherbarrow, 2009). This will be implemented by addressing daylight –as the environmental input– in targeting the sensibilities and operations of envelope performances within the built space. By doing so, the research constructs its argument that spatial qualities and meanings of the architectural atmospheres are bound to their operational elements. The operational elements of this project are directly affected by degrees of enclosure and light penetration through spatial and material organizations. Alongside this, the research examines specific qualities of various patterns of inhabitation and use that arise impulsively in the space.

This experimental design process will establish a working method by which the research will pursue further investigations along with developing the method further. The research examines the degree of successful operation of the design intents in an iterative process by reflective thinking and analysis. The data for analysis is collected through various tools of investigation such as Arduino weather stations, computational simulation and analysis, and photometric studies. It should be noted that the conceptual approach of the research in envelope classification is not only to map out conceptual approaches on the built envelopes, but also to make these approaches operational for the research process. In doing so, the research investigate ways by which the resilience and applicability of the research’s chosen approach can be tested through envisioning the existing practices in a new perspective.

Manuela Aguirre - Can service prototyping from the frontlines support policymaking processes?

In the last three years, more than twenty new government innovation labs have emerged, most with service design as a central capacity. These labs are seen as a means to improve quality of life, reduce inequalities and work more effectively with reduced public budgets. However, the complexity that the policy and public service landscapes entail requires equipping designers with a new set of tools, skills and principles.

New tools from the area of Systems Oriented Design allow designers to deal with extreme complexity, leveraging visual and systems thinking techniques. New skills adapted from social anthropology and social policy allow designers to be more rigorous in their research and prototyping designs.  Finally, designers need strong ethical principles to evaluate new ideas and interventions when designing for the common good.

Engaging in research-by-design, I embedded myself in a public service innovation lab that has a unique point of departure. Rather than establishing itself within central government, it uses a Grounded Change approach (Schulman et. al. 2014) by working at the frontlines - at the intersection between citizens and service providers. Traditionally in the public sector, the design and delivery functions are separate. Policymakers design and municipalities and public organizations deliver, disconnecting policy from people’s real context with weak feedback loops between design and implementation.

Through a case study, the question explored was: can strengthening the design capacity within citizens and the people delivering public services improve outcomes for all parties involved?  The results of a six-month long design capacity building program showed that Grounded Change is promising - as radical new services were co-designed and prototyped in context by service staff with end users. The ongoing challenge is how to connect this approach to the support structures that will enable these new services to continue developing and support policymaking processes.

A fabulous day at the office - Jonathan Romm

Sunday 25 October 2015 11:46: WATCHA, my digital aura is forwarding a Message form Jérémie McGowan to my smartphone:

Hi all,

Pardon the weekend intrusion. This news just in from Andrew Morrison regarding tomorrow's "Fabulous Seminar": we are starting at 11:15 instead of 10:45, to better accommodate international arrivals, etc. (The seminar will still end at 17:00, followed by "refreshments", as previously forecasted).

Full (updated) details and schedule:

 The seminar is in Group Room 4 + 5.

Look forward to seeing you all tomorrow,


 Yes! …Its going to be a fabulous day at the office tomorrow.

Group room 4 + 5:

Professor Andrew Morrison welcomed all the attendees (that met on time) and announced those who are late. Revealing the agenda of the fabulous seminar Morrison kicked-off the session fabulously by using a text based mobile application that extracts words and phrases from the official website. Passing his mobile device around the crowd asking random participants to read electronically generated textual representations about the seminar (did WATCHA have anything to do with this?). Then all the participants were given time to introduce themselves shortly…

Most of the attendees are researching fields like urbanism and landscape design, media studies, interaction, communication and graphic design. The crowd of 36 people from Norway, China, Denmark, Kenya, South Africa and others presented shortly their points of interest. 11 of the attendees have joined from the newly established class of PhD fellows at AHO, researching a variety of topics (see Morrison helped in relating the participant’s short presentations to the fictional theme of the fabulous seminar.

The Fabulous Seminar – Oslo School of Architecture and Design – October the 26th - 2015

Urban imaginaries - Einar Martinussen:

Martinussen presents, discusses and argues that the impact of visual designed narratives is mainly expressed through popular sci-fi culture (books, comics, illustration, movies etc.) This power, he claims is significant and shapes our social perception, imagination, acceptance and to some extent, our expectations of future urban landscape.

Syd Mead - Blade Runner - Conceptual Art – 1980

Martinussen tuned the crowds attention towards the work of Moebius and his comic-book illustrations of futuristic urban life and moments of dense activity. Moebius, he claimed inspired Luc Bessons sci-fi screen play - The Fifth Element (1997). Dwelling on the opening scene where the main character (Bruce Willis) acts out a basic everyday life scenario of a man waking up in the morning in a future city apartment. A mundane humanistic scene surrounded by the spectacular and entertaining elements of the new. The movie, though being critiqued by many for its silly storyline, has been a source for futuristic study and design inspiration, Martinussen argues.

Martinussen then draws the attention towards the movie Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott (1982). With its Syd Mead inspired LA-futuristic chaotic and heavily urbanised look and feel. Einar points out the rich background material of flying cars, ostriches and futuristic artefacts that creates the dimmed urban atmosphere of Blade runner. Visually by showing Meads sketch book Martinussen is arguing that the visual art is as concerned with the surrounding artefacts as the main items that drives the of the movie forward.

Design fiction reviewed - Tau Lensjold (SDU)

Lensjold has through his research generated speculative examples of exploration into narratives created through interactions between human and animals (birds, dogs etc.) working with elderly and low cognitive function patients. His work points out possible future activities and constructs that reflect on themes like nearness, presence and exchange.

Whale-Buss of the year 2000 - Jean Marc Côté - 1899

Starting out with a historical perspective with examples like the fabulous illustrations of Jean Marc Côté from the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris– among those the Whale-Bus of the year 2000.  Lensjold pulls up the example of the “what-if” prompt as a central catalyst of the artistic journey. Skipping forward to the post-WW1, Lensjold presents promotions of developmental work that advertise streamline future fantasies, picturing Norman Bel Geddes work of “Airliner no 4” (1929). Here different styles and modes of representations of the constructed speculative designs are put forward. Moving on to the 1970’s Tau shows the avant-garde imaginaries (The film Supersurface Life-Italy).  Lensjold constructs a link towards critical design with “The Pillow” by Dunne & Gaver contrasting the familiar with the futuristic.   

Building on Bruce Sterling definition of design fiction – Tau argues that design fiction could be used at a methodological epistemological framework for inquiry – illustrated as an example by the rich interaction designs of the sci-fi movie Minority Report.

Drawing on the writings of Cameron Tokinwise (2015) Tao presents a cloud of different design definitions (discursive, critical, futuristic etc…) as part of the umbrella of “design fiction”. Its purpose is suggested as supporting the following main four applications:

-        Generating futures

-        Evaluating futures

-        Enlisting sponsors for futures

-        Materialising futures

Lensjold ends his talk by focusing on his own project; Urban Animals and Us, working with fictional experiments about connections between animals and humans. Showing the case Bird-Flute phrased as the “exchange between different actors in shaped urban spaces”. He is exploring communication as translations between species by conducting experiments and micro-events that are initiated by fly-by birds.

Fashionably forward - Synne Skjulstad (W)

Working with speculative design education of graphic design students (without actually knowing about the term) at Westerdals School of Art Technology and Design, Skjulstad has published a paper together with a colleague about speculative graphic design. Showing examples from the course of students work that shows visual identity for a fictive terror organisation, using speculative graphic design for a new brand of water company. Reflecting on the student’s work Synne has noticed that the design expression is often mundane but when applied into extreme settings, it becomes spectacular. Skjulstad is interested in investigating this phenomenon further on in the context of future fashion. 

Showing the movie “Clothing of the future” from 1939 Skjulstad demonstrates how futuristic expression in fashion industries have been mediated. Skjulstad argues that research into relationships between sci-fi culture and fashion could be a study of its own. The Fifth Element, and lately Matrix and Snow Piercer are good examples, she claims. Fashion figures and haute couture have clearly pushed forward the narrative of the future (eg. J.P. Gaultier in The Fifth Element).

Even tough fashion and movement as expressed cinematographically is not a new phenomenon, the research into the fashion fictions as future narratives is new. Skjulstads standpoint is clearly demonstrated through the reflexive and humoristic aspects as shown in the fictional movie, Fashion Film by Mathews Frost 2012:

Skjulstad is planning to develop the research concept in relation to mediated future, fashion and movement further on. She is also planning to publish some of her first thoughts and findings related to this theme soon.

Landscape fables - Laura Watts (ITU)

The presentation represents the industrialized and innovation efforts of systems and landscapes transforming these into qualitative narratives that weave spectacular stories about and into futures. Watts uses improvisation and performance techniques to generate and present her narratives.

Writing futures – Starting off with a narrative reading of her writings describing a “future spaceship” describing an engineering project of hydro power station or something like it… she constructs a narrative that will be passed on drawing upon our heritage of storytelling. Like a children’s game that is passed on from one generation to the other.

Watts is moving smoothly forward telling stories of “wind turbine archeology” constructing imaginaries of landscape museums of the future. Towards the print ink as an integral part of the narration of big data. “Data stories” struggles with translating the mythical and empirical data into quantitative measurements captured by, or through big data-fication, of our everyday. Watts uses the phrase “Im standing in the field” repeatedly gluing one story to another to state that we, the seminar attendees are all entrepreneurs of stories standing in their different fields – “So let the lights in!” she finishes and tries to play a movie – but no sound is heard… the drama is broken and Andrew is somehow disappointed with the support of the ICT-assistant… one more check… oh its on, the magic is back… Piano music… foggy gray ocean in a cloudy longshot… the coastline is revealing itself in rythms… “I am standing in the field, my field…” Watts repeats, “Would you show me your fields?”

Janike Kampevold Larsen – Thanked Watts for a beautiful presentation and added her reflections regarding the use of a “non specific I” observing landscapes that creates a personalised awareness of landscape and geological agencies – “do we speak about landscapes or do we want them to speak to us?”.


Buzzz… my trouser pocket is vibrating, again. Its WATCHA, it does this quite often. WATCHA my newborn digital aura. Helps me to reflect and get to know myself better. Growing each day mirroring, supporting, nudging, representing, submissively. WATCHA: <Get the key at HASLE SKOLE> “you need to disengage… You are responsible for Nora’s class arrangement. I realise that I am going to miss the talks on Body bio-fictives by Ståle Stenslie and “A possible history of design fiction from Banham to the Baroque” by Jérémie McGowan… Not to mention the closing discussion of the Fabulous seminar. I dream about the years ahead where WATCHA will grow to be able to stay on my behalf and engage further on as I transit. As for now, I have to run!

 Next morning on my way to the office:

I have been walking to work the past three weeks. Its fantastic. 25 minutes of pure pleasure time to tune in on the work ahead and reflect on work done. I plug in my headset firing up my music app and my favourite tune this autumn, with a little sorting help from WATCHA.

Thinking about yesterdays fabulous seminar as I walk through the park. I wished I could have stayed longer and that there had been more time to discussion between the presentations. I think about the fact that design and fiction is closely linked, especially in the initial phases of any development process. Designers use representations all the time of all sorts to create more or less realistic illusions of what might be. This in order to engage in a dialogue with themselves or others. A profession of fake and dialogue. As I walk beneath falling leaves of red and gold it strikes me that the examples of yesterdays design fictions and constructed fables where in that sense preoccupied with fantasia per se and artistic expression. Fantasia is a strong effect since it secures memorable moments. I am mostly sure I will not forget this fabulous seminar. This is great, but from a designerly perspective somehow narrow. A stronger link to hard-core commercial design, architecture or urbanism and the fictions speculative perspectives involved, would have been great to include as part of the discourse at the Fabulous Seminar. Dreamy architectural renderings, tangible evidencing of services and must-have models of artifacts as fictions of a soon to become co-created or multi-shaped desirable fabulous futures. 

Tuesday 27 October 2015 08:45: WATCHA goes buzz again…

<PHD CONTEXT> - Session 02 of our CONTEXT Course "Interview seminars". Henry will join us again, for a full day discussion/review of the group work you have been carrying out around Interviews.




What is the most important thing?

..some helpful thoughts on writing of a blogger that I don't know anything about:

- ute

reflections of a fabulous seminar on an unwritten page

WHERE DOES THAT LIGHT COME FROM AND WHAT IS THIS SURFACE MADE OF? POSITION YOURSELF STRATEGICALLY WITHIN A CONETXT AND CHALLENGE YOUR REFERENCES WITH RADICAL SPECULATION. Oh I remember these times so well. These times when we still thought that our visions of the even closer future could imagine aspects of what has become today’s reality. We smiled at how awkwardly closely related to the then present style, technical standard and habits historic visions of a future were. And never were able to question our own visions with the same sovereignty our view backwards allowed us. I sit on a sofa. His sofa. He controls the remote, and I find his choices entertaining - if nothing else he has this engaging way of speaking about them. Whenever he sits back, he draws fabulous creatures into his sketchbook. VISUAL OR VISIONARY – FIND THE DEAD END OR A WAY OUT OF THE MAZE. I stare out the window. Their window. I observe bird-on burdens. The poor things have become bio-based drones. Is their twitter virtual or still real? I sometimes sneak out the staff entrance and sit down on that patch of ever muddy earth that is not covered with asphalt. When the bugs crawl over my hands, I see pictures I thought I had lost in the depths of my mind’s ocean. We indulged in fable telling, movie making, clothes display and called every reasoning on our surroundings design. If we also stamped it “futuristic”, “visionary” or “revolutionary”, that would almost be justification enough for spending time, money and space on it – that time when time, money and space still existed. I try on that dress and try on another identity. I try to look convincing in my role as a water terrorist. The dress grows onto my skin and I hurry up, get some business done, before too many of them can afford to redesign their basic needs. SH**** IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY. THEN AGAIN: YOU FIRST BECOME REALLY CREATIVE AFTER HAVING FORCED YOURSELF THROUGH THE 10th ITERATION. I visit a field. Her field. Somebody said feminist research presentation style. I don’t like that classification. I do like getting to know ways of connecting information, associations and assumptions I haven’t come across before. Somebody else said transportation vehicle for messages. I like that better. HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO MY WORK? LET’S TEST OUT SOME TECHNIQUES. This laughter has to be read heard as an insider insight indicator. Sometimes I wish myself back into that innocent state of sweet ignorance. I sneak a peek into the cabinet. His cabinet of thoughts. Different cultures and their way of communicating. You can juxtapose any two or three objects and draw relations between them? It’s starting to get interesting. But it’s also ending. For today. WHERE IS THE DISCUSSION? CRITICAL EXCHANGE? CHALLENGING OF BORDERS? Sometimes I hear just too many voices. I’ve learned to switch myself off. Noratta.

Roll up - roll up for the fabulous mystery tour… a reflection by Bruce Snaddon

Andrew Morrison of our Centre for Design Research beckoned, promised and delivered a delightful day filled with speakers promoting multiple takes on what fabulation, design fiction and speculative inquiry can mean to us all. Each speaker was followed with a designated commentator who managed to tease a bit more from the truly varied and, at times encyclopedic proceedings.

Main points of the six Fabulous Seminar speakers:

Einar Martinussen spoke of the role of design as production of (incredibly detailed) spectacle and also very real comment on social issues projected into the future (the familiar made strange) – and the concern that the ‘future may be boring’ as voiced by J.G. Ballard. Einar’s collection of sci-fi genre movies and illustrations by key designers was a very good bookend to what Jérémie McGowan later presented as a need for a history of fiction in design that is more accessible than ‘mere visual theatrics’ in the white cubed spaces used to show examples of speculative design a la Dunne & Raby. Jeremie presented Banham’s use of the Baede-Kar audiotape (in Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles) as a kind of design fiction comparing it with the Wunderkamer ‘cabinet of curiosity’ and its weirdly wonderful factual and fictional juxtapositions.

In between we had Tau Lensjold who took us into the world of the elderly in a project that started with ‘what if?’ The work speculated what value there may be in providing elderly with a means of interacting with birds outside through bird-cams and bird calls. Ironically for a place supposedly interested in the well being of the elderly, when a bird started to react to the attentions of the residents it was removed, most likely to prevent it being a ‘nuisance’ to cleaning staff.

Synne Skjulstad then showed the work of her graphic design students using speculative scenarios for a world dominated by GEORAIN, a company having the monopoly for outrageously priced water from Mars – a visual identity developed revealed a rather conservative brand in a far-fetched scenario. She then drew us to the world of fashion and the question of ethics and aesthetics arose – it would have been useful to pursue this further but time didn’t allow.

Ståhl Stenslie then boldly stepped up with his Body Bio-Fictives and the designing of future affordances (W. Gibson). His presentation added to the growing archive for our history of design fiction with several examples ranging from Stelarc’s third ear implanted in his arm, to the fictive zero gender and its reality in the form of nullo ‘man’.

Laura Watts and her Pixels and Pencils presentation (a non-improvised talk on improvisation as method for writing futures) brought us all into a very reflective mode of considering our roles and reading of marginal landscapes. Her video of the Orkney Islands sliding into foggy view and disappearing again emphasized the notion of ‘frontier’ and its shifting status, and that “seabirds are resistant to transduction into numbers” and baselines. I would have liked her to read her evocative ‘poem’ (with its beautiful shape-shifting words) along with the video perhaps, the elusive island echoing her words, “I am standing in the field, my field, your field”. A generative talk that drew me into and out of my body to respond to new visions and thoughts of what counts as ‘field’, a field of practice, a field of research, a field of dreams and fictive futures? I was also prompted to think of my own research and of frontiers crossed with design students on several journeys into marginal spaces, contested spaces in transition that have been forgotten or been impacted by the anthropocene. Her point about the many different ways of transducing data struck me as being particularly interesting and pertinent to the notion of speculative design being a means of drawing our attention towards future possibilities. A writing of futures in ways that are able to transduce meaning from fictive scenarios into the everyday moments of the present. There’s an interesting hither and thither movement here, a shifting of modalities; present, past and future that is healthy, I feel. This articulated movement is the stuff our brains are tailored for, and I believe that meaning making is the richer for it.

The day ended for me feeling like I’d been in a fast car with my (receeding) hair blown back, and a sense of wanting to squeeze a word in but not being able to due to a very full programme. But maybe its in the nature of a fabulous mystery tour to ride the carousel with a mouthful of popcorn and a desire to do it all again. So here’s to the next one, with more time for comments from the P(eanut)hD gallery!

Reflection on a fab seminar, by Jan Fredrik Schønheyder

One Monday morning in late October, just after daylight savings, stars aligned for a fabulous seminar. A small but curios group of scholars, researches and practitioners where gathered to listen and discuss the speculative inquiry of design research and the fabulous topic of design fiction. (

The seminar was kicked of and conducted by design researcher Andrew Morrison. By involving the audience, they themselves performed the introduction to the topics using the Prompter Pro app. All done to different degrees of success, and thereby letting the technology itself raise the issue on design speculations and criticism. An approach that also leads to the question; what does it mean to speculate together?

Einar Sneve Martinussen reflecting on urban imaginaries, form and phenomena gave the first talk. He reflected and compared different contemporary interaction designs from various science fiction phenomena´s in films, cartoons and literature. He especially focused on the gritty but epic visions of Jean Giraud. (

 Tau Ulv Lenskiold presented his project, Urban Animals and Us. The talk started with Jean-Marc Cóté´searly depictions of Visions of the Year 2000, from1899. ( Tau then spanned the speculative design futures through the seventies and nineties up to the Corner Convenience project from 2012. ( Tau then presented Urban Animals and Us, a speculative co-design project involving design interaction between frail senior citizens and wild urban animals.

Synne Skjulstad presented her talk, Fashion Forward, a look from the present into the future and back again. An intriguing perspective on how science fiction films are influencing the fashion industry, and where fashion moves forward to fashion films. An emerging trend where both irony and conservatism are used to present the natural movement of clothes. (

Laura Watts presented Pixels and Pencils, improvising methods for writing futures. A poetic narrative, where she presented the marine renewable energy research, conducted in the Orkney Islands. ( ) Laura claims that the innovative research initiative is to be considered as an equivalent to the Apollo space program. She masterfully tells the story of data, birds and the unknown.  

Next was Stahl Stenslie presenting Body Bio-Fictives, a slightly different approach and perspective on what happens to the body. In fiction, audiences have been accustomed to the concept of the cyborg, from Fritz Lang´s Metropolis to Terminator. However with the emergence of digital biology, we are starting to see new constellations of the cyborg. In these new constellations we are witnessing a fast pasted evolution of genetically modified organics, digital bio-printing to Humanity + and the enhanced human (

Last speaker at the seminar was Jeremie McGowan´s talk on Precedents, a possible history of design fiction from Banham to the baroque. Through his speak, he explored the roles of the designer, and the possible new directions for design fiction. He claims that there exists a lack of precedents in critical design understanding, and that now it is all about repetition. Jeremie emphasizes the work of Rayner Bahnam and his influence on design research and draws a line back to the Wunderkammer found in renaissance Europe ( A place where real objects are together with fictional objects to be speculated upon.


In depth: Urban Imaginaries by Einar Sneve Martinussen

In Einars´ talk he framed the topic around design, urban fictions and speculations, a spectacle on popular culture and interaction design. Today in popcorn blockbusters, interaction design have become more dominant and visual and not forgetting borderline intense. Which Einar so elegantly points out, relates to the latest plugin for After Effects. Concept interaction design has already become a separate branch with its own design hero’s such as Ash Thorp ( ) and Bradley Munkowitz, or Gmunk also known as (

But there are other design heroes outside the commercial Hollywood industry, such as French writer, artist and cartoonist Jean Giraud ( Giraud, also known as Maebius, has contributed with important and pinnacle work as a designer and storyboard artist for Alien, Fifth Element and the Abyss. Giraud contributes with a different approach to design fiction; his style is grittier but still epic. He brings in the urban life and space into the story with great detail.

Further Einar presents one of Giraud´s design contributions, the Luc Besson movie Fifth Element from 1997. With an incredible budget it brings a new interpretation of how a space opera can be envisioned and presented. A silly movie with more design that was actually needed. Giraud designed the cramp compartment we see in the opening of the movie. His design is utilitarian and compact, with no room for excess or luxury. Maybe only the cat flap can be seen as a differentiator that stands out, both from a humanitarian perspective and as a familiar object the audience can relate to.

To maintain credibility it is important for an audience to recognize and relate certain objects or elements, even in hyper futuristic movies. George Lucas told his concept designers to always implement objects that are recognizable for the audience. Though no man alive has ever seen a hyper drive eon motor, we believe it when we see it in a movie. The reason is simple; we recognize the valve, the pipes and the blinking lights on a panel, because we have seen it before. The same goes for clothing designs as described in this article from Fastcompany. “McQuarrie sketched Vader with a billowing cape and a sinister-looking breathing apparatus. Costume designer John Mollo took it from there, fusing elements of various real-life uniforms associated with war and evil. To design Vader’s infamous black helmet, Mollo looked to the black, shiny headgear Nazis wore during WWII. He then added a gas mask, a motorcycle suit, black leather boots, and a monk’s cloak found in the Middle Ages department of a costume warehouse. Darth Vader’s helmet isn’t the only German army reference in the films: his army of Stormtroopers are named after specialist German soldiers in World War I.” (

Returning to Einar, he goes on to describe the story behind the design fiction in Riddley Scotts dystopia in Bladerunner from 1982. Here the work of Syd Mead had a strong visual appearance in a large-scale gritty smog environment, again the design depicts familiar objects that creates atmosphere.

Further Einar points out the work of J G Ballard, “a grumpy” author, that focus on the motorway and the masculinity in car chases, especially the Jaguar. Though paradoxically the design of the Jaguar can also be seen as feminine. Cars in like with boats, tend to have female names and descriptions. ( Another reflection on road rage from the 60´s and 70´s, can also be related to the lack of air condition in automobiles and the condition of thermal stress ( A reflection that could be perceived as boring which removes the aspect of fiction in the storytelling. However it can contribute with a alternative speculation to why Ballard is a grumpy man.   

In his talk Einar reflects on our current technological state where the “future has arrived” and we are surrounded by connectivity. In popular culture this fact is starting to show, interaction is presented through activities, not zoomed in close ups of interface designs and gestures, or as JG Ballard so eloquently puts it: “The future is boring.”