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  • Speculative Futures

  • Design Approaches to Navigate Change, Foster Resilience, and Co-Create the Cities We Need
  • Written by: Johanna Hoffman
  • Narrated by: Henriette Zoutomou
  • Length: 4 hrs and 38 mins

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Speculative Futures

Written by: Johanna Hoffman
Narrated by: Henriette Zoutomou
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Publisher's Summary

How the emerging field of speculative futures can help us dream—and build—better, sustainable, and more equitable cities for everyone.

Speculative futures—design approaches that help us visualize new and potential worlds—move us beyond what currently exists into what could one day be. Inspired by art, film, fiction, and industrial design, they use speculation to provoke, imagine, and dream into what lies ahead.

Written for futurists, urbanists, and artists looking to enact city-wide transformation—and for listeners at the intersection of disruption, design, innovation, and city living—this book offers creative paths toward urban resilience, using design tools that already exist.

Artist and urbanist Johanna Hoffman uses an interdisciplinary lens informed by her experience in architecture, art, engineering, and construction to examine how we can reimagine our cities at every level: as individuals, in community, and on a professional scale.

Hoffman blends precedent studies, compelling research, and professional memoir, connecting urban development issues with the processes and actions best positioned to create better solutions for our cities. The result is a dynamic field guide that uses speculative futures to imagine, advocate for, and adapt to modern scales, scopes, and speeds of change.

While this book is of great utility to professionals in the urban design and planning industries, it’s also for people who resist received, capitalistic, technocratic ways of thinking—listeners who seek new solutions to old problems with anti-colonial, living-systems-oriented lenses. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2022 Johanna Hoffman (P)2022 North Atlantic Books

Critic Reviews

“What we learn in Johanna Hoffman’s Speculative Futures is about an evolution in what ‘futures’ (plural) means, and how ‘future’ is now a verb. We ‘future’ means we imagine, we explore, we visit, we investigate, we build possibilities. These various practices Hoffman describes in truly engaging detail, and through actual projects—speculative design, futures design, and design fiction—are laid out as kindred and symbiotic approaches and mindsets. She reminds us that they all share a goal, which is to teach us how to see adjacent possibilities and opportunities. Hoffman reminds us that we make our path. She reminds us that we need not accept the worlds we do not want to inhabit, nor contribute to the making of worlds whose purposes do not align with our values. Speculative Futures is about a mindset. It is about a kind of practice for building worlds that may be our best hope for effecting meaningful global change. This is a kind of design for the generation that is now having to imagine powerfully, thoroughly, and confidently. This is not the kind of design that decides what color next year’s gadget should be, or what user interface pattern is best to keep the heads-down public scrolling scrolling scrolling. This is not the design practice the consuming public has come to fetishize, and that has us overflowing with design-prize-winning mobile phones, car tires, plastic soda bottles, hair clippers, and vacuum cleaners. The change Hoffman writes about is change meant to lead us to a more habitable near future world. We need to imagine differently, for the planet, and independent of the demands of extractive and exploitive networks of capital and commerce. Hoffman captures the value of approaches like design fiction, reminding us that speculative futures taps directly into our imagination—the one evolutionarily critical faculty we all have that may very well be what saves us from our current existential crisis.”—Julian Bleecker, co-founder of Near Future Laboratory and author of A Synchronicity

“In order to change our cities, and the world, we need to first imagine a better future—a future we might not have imagined at all. Johanna Hoffman’s Speculative Futures is a guidebook to getting there—one that will help us move beyond the pessimism and polarization of our time, and build the better, more caring communities we need.”—Richard Florida, author of Rise of the Creative Class 

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  • Lorenzo
  • 23-12-22

A good read for designers trying to navigate a rapidly changing future

This book is a a refreshing take on how to design for a rapidly changing world. It asks very important questions and challenges the status quo. If you have an interest in design, futurism, and how world building can aid design. Then you are in for a pleasant ride.