Neo Rural Futures

Speculative design for rurality
in global scenarios



september 2019


ENThe workshop
will be held
in english.

A summer school

Neo Rurals Futures
Speculative design for rurality in global scenarios

NeoRural Futures is the summer school of the Speculative Edu research project

What are the possible, imaginable and preferable futures of rurality?
We live in globalized times: global phenomena profoundly influence local ones, just as local phenomena influence globality.

How will rural environments change in the near future through the impacts of the global phenomena that are taking place in our planet, like climate change, migrations, new technologies, energy issues, the mutation of cities and of work and the transformation of economy?

How will people live, move, communicate and relate between cities and rurality with these transformations? How will these changes reflect on people’s daily lives? On the objects they use everyday?

Speculative Design, Design Fiction, Near Future Design and Critical design approaches will help us to create possible, preferable futures for rurality, and to narrate them through the objects and processes of our future lives.


NeoRural Futures is the summer school of the Speculative Edu research project: an intensive workshop about speculative design practices, applied to the future of rurality.

  • 5 days workshop

  • 35 participants

  • 3 coordinators

  • 5 tutors

  • A beautiful location in the heart of Rome

  • A final exhibit to celebrate and expose the workshop results

  • A cultural program with meetings, events and conferences in Rome


Experiment in practice the most promising and innovative approaches of speculative design, design fiction, near future design and critical design.

You will understand how they allow to generate powerful, participatory and inclusive designs which are able to open public, shared reflections on future scenarios for our society, environment and human behaviours

Apply these approaches to rurality.

Understanding how the global phenomena of our planet (climate change, migrations, technology, energy, health, the transformation of cities, the economy) will influence rural environments, from agriculture, to the livelihood of rural villages, to the ways in which cities and rural environments will be interconnected.

Show our findings in a beautiful exhibit across design, technology, art and critical reflection.

Meet an international community of experts, influential designers, researchers, students, professionals.

Work with them to explore the futures of design and of rurality. Be part of an international publication: the outputs of the workshop will be documented, published and credited to participants, becoming part of the Speculative Edu research project.


  • Monday
  • Welcome
  • Plenary session with experts on rurality, technology, society, environment and speculative design
  • Formation of the working groups
  • First phase of research and conceptualization
  • Tuesday
  • Research and conceptualization
  • Initial preparation of the format in which we will release the outputs and create the exhibit: objects, maps, narratives and information visualizations
  • Wednesday
  • Release of the final concepts
  • Preparation and production of the exhibit
  • Thursday
  • Production and finalization of the outputs and exhibit
  • Friday
  • Setup of the exhibit in the wonderful spaces at RUFA university
  • Opening of the exhibit speculative design conference networking creative and artistic interventions

Each day you will meet influential designers, artists, experts and institutions, to explore with them the futures of design and of rurality. Visits, conferences and meetings will be disseminated in different locations relevant for art, design and rurality, to discover with your colleagues the beautiful city of Rome.


Selected participants will receive research and working materials both in the field of speculative design and of rurality.


Participants will transform their concepts in design fiction artifacts, materializing their near futures scenarios to create an immersive exhibit.


FREEThe event is free of charge: participants will pay for their travel and accommodation (we will indicate possible solutions for accomodation in the neighborhood, that are comfortable and welcoming, at convenient prices).

Workshop leaders

Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico

A robotics engineer, hacker, interaction designer, TED, Eisenhower and Yale World Fellow; a digital communication, inclusion expert and cyber-ecologist. The artistic duo Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico observes the computational mutations of human beings and societies due. Between poetics and politics, bodies and architectures, squats and revolutionary business models, the couple promotes a vision of the world in which art connects science, politics,economics. Authors of publications, books and global performances, they teach and have teache Near Future, Transmedia and Interaction Design in several universities, such as ISIA Firenze, La Sapienza University of Rome, RUFA - Rome University of Fine Arts, IED. They founded the research center HER – Human Ecosystems Relazioni and the international network AOS – Art is Open Source, dedicated to the interconnections of science, technology and the arts.

Workshop leaders

Alex Giordano

Pioneer of digital culture, innovation anthropologist and radical thinker, he is known as one of the major expert in Italy and internationally in contaminating social innovation and digital technologies. He teaches Marketing, Social Transformation and Social Innovation at the Department of Social Science of the University Federico II of Naples. Interested in complexity, the infosphere and their relation with local communities, he focuses on cultural interaction (small communities/migrants), intergenerational relations and the dialogue center/periphery. He is leading the research/action programme Societing4.0 which intertweens different projects and actions. Among them the RuralHack task force works on open source hardware and DIY approaches on precision agriculture applied to the development of rural territories, internal areas and local communities. He is co-founder of Ninja MArketing, member of IADAS New York, authors of books and scientific publication. In 2018 he was appointed ambassador of Mediterranean Diet in the world.

The SpeculativeEdu team is composed by

Arts Academy Split, Croatia (leading organisation)

Ivica Mitrović,
Oleg Šuran,
Bruna Paušić,

Goldsmith College, UK

Jimmy Loizeau,
Matt Ward,
Dash Macdonald

Madeira Interactive Technology Institute, Portugal

Julian Hanna,
James Auger

Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland

Ingi Helgason,
Michael Smyth

Human Ecostystem Relazioni

Salvatore Iaconesi,
Oriana Persico

Institute for Transmedia Design, Slovenia

Sara Božanić,
Petra Bertalanič


Federico Biggio,
Daniele Bucci,
Alessandra Del Nero,
Arianna Forte,
Valeria Loreti

Storytellers & welcome

Herbert Natta,
Maria Valese




The event will be hosted in the beautiful location of RUFA Space, in the Pastificio Cerere: an historical building for contemporary art in the heart of San Lorenzo neighborhood in Rome, close to the main train station (Termini), the historical center of the city, and to the most characteristic neighbourhoods in Rome.

Visit RUFA Space

San Lorenzo is a neighbourhood with a long popular tradition in the city, and has transformed into a place that welcomes students and researchers from all over the world, as it hosts Rome’s largest university (La Sapienza), CNR (Centro Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy’s National Research Center), as well as a selection of some of the most famous art, culture, food and nightlife locations in the city. Next door to San Lorenzo are the Pigneto and Torpignattara neighbourhoods, which are the most multicultural and innovative places in Rome, with cultural venues, galleries, creative studios, innovation spaces, fablabs, performance arts, music and more.

The late afternoons and evenings of the event will be dedicated to going out into the city to visit the most interesting and innovative design and art studios, universities and institutions in Rome, with a focus on technologies, future scenarios, social innovation and rurality.



september 2019

Speculative Education

How can we use design not only to make products, services and technologies easy to use, sexy and beautiful, but also to open up critical discussion about the future? Speculative Design asks critical questions about the future and offers alternative scenarios that help us to better understand the world of today and the world of tomorrow. Design becomes a platform for expression to imagine possible futures and how things could be, becoming a catalyst for change.

Spearheaded by renowned European institutions in the field of Speculative Design – the University of Split (Croatia), Edinburgh Napier University (UK), Goldsmiths, the University of London (UK), the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (Portugal), the Human Ecosystems Relazioni (Italy), and the Institute for Transmedia Design (Slovenia) – SpeculativeEdu is an European Erasmus+ project investigating novel educational skills and practices for the 21st century, both inter- and multidisciplinary, with a special focus on relationships between people, technology, and society.