Salil Parekh

The Speculative Design Workshop
Helping Médecins Sans Frontières to strategise and plan the future direction of the organisation using speculative design practices
at Quicksand
in 2019
for Médecins Sans Frontières

The Speculative Design Workshop was a day of co-creation, where the participants were introduced to frameworks, toolkits, and theories from the world of speculative design. It was a way of looking at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s practice and the crises they aim to respond to through a fresh perspective, and reveal opportunities to critique, reshape, and innovate.

Name tags for workshop participants

Workshop flow

Creating a speculative timeline to plot the future of MSF

Organised ahead of MSF Scientific Days in Delhi, 15 members of MSF from diverse backgrounds participated in a day-long workshop hosted at Quicksand Studio. The day began with participants playing fun games and opening up to thinking about the future. Through the day they spent time world-building and speculating how crises will evolve over the years, ending at present day: 2035. They detailed out their worlds through photo collaging and narrative writing exercises.

A complete, populated timeline speculating the near, and far future. tldr; it's not great.

They engaged further with Speculative Design through role playing and artefact modelling activities, immersing into the worlds they built. The workshop came to an end with a sharing session where both the participants and the facilitators shared their reflections and discussed further steps for collaboration and a future for the workshop.

'Living' the future through role-playing based on MSF's predictions

The post-workshop discussions were lucid and free, as participants were able to look into the future and make confident decisions regarding the future of MSF as an organisation and the role they would play in the near future. It was unanimously acknowledged that the future of MSF was perhaps quite different from they thought it would be, prior to the workshop. This is exactly what The Speculative Design Workshop intended to do: allow participants to reflect on the present after having experienced the future. The workshop with it's format and branding was to be pitched to other organisations, to help teams strategise and prepare for the future.

Prototyping solutions from role-playing activities