The timeline of material future goes like:
Future Past –> Future Present –> Future Speculative
Future past is reinventing ideas from the past to create a new design, for instance the TV glasses from 1963, and Rift.
Future present is NOW, which is to produce innovative products by looking at models from the nature, i.e. biomimicry and synthetic biology, for instance velcro.
Future speculative is basically designing for future scenarios. As designers, we have the responsibility to create in response to real world problems, we should not only consider ways to improve and enhance our daily lives, instead we should focus on what is needed in the real world. It is not just about what we would like to be capable of achieving, we are in fact responsible for aiming to create a better world. Since we have been churning the Earth with its natural resources, a lot of them will soon be running out, even commonly used materials such as cotton, paper and even clean water.
Here are a few examples of existing speculative designs.
Biolace is created in response to the loss of natural fabrics such as cotton, the idea behind it is to grow fabric to help with the loss of fabrics that are likely to gradually run out in the near future, e.g. cotton. Because the lace is grown, it won’t have to go through harmful processes, which would be a huge cut down on the energy level and resources needed for those processes.
Climate tile is created in response to climate change that has caused cities to experience an increasing amount of rainfalls. It is designed to collect and manage rainwater to prevent damages to pathways and plantings due to flooding. The Danish architecture studio Tredje Natur has been developing the climate tile since 2014, and it is now on trial in Copenhagen. The tiles are either replacing the existing pavements or are placed alongside them. There are holes, tunnels and ridges in them that collect and manage the rainwater, which is then stored and diverted, some is even percolated if necessary.