Interview: Tina Gorjanc

June 11, 2019

Speculative Design practitioners – Tina Gorjanc (Slovenia/UK): Investigating the consumer vs. citizen paradox present in each individual.

Tina Gorjanc is a Slovenian-born researcher and designer that has been based in London for the past six years. After obtaining a Master’s Degree from the Material Futures course held at Central Saint Martins she opened up her own freelance practice. She believes the future of the creative fields is absolutely linked to biology which is why she is fascinated by biotechnology and its potential to shape the future. She is most recognised for her work that merges the practices of speculative and critical product design with scientific procedures. Her work has caught the attention of some of the biggest media companies including The Guardian, The New York Times, Dezeen, Motherboard and Trend Tablet. She was also featured in the TV series produced by the TV network ARTE. Tina is currently developing commissions from several galleries and private organizations as well as writing feature articles for design publications and developing critical design-based workshops.

How connected was your education with the Speculative Design (or related) approach you are using in your work today?

I was properly introduced to the concept of Speculative Design within my Masters’ education at the MA Material Futures course at Central Saint Martins. At that point, the course had changed the name from Textile Futures as it was undertaking a more speculative and critical approach to material and concept development. The differentiation of the courses in comparison to other courses carried out at Central Saint Martins was the support of the tutors of the design for change principle rather than purely designing just for the commercial market.

Could you please select one of your (OWN) favourite Speculative Design projects and tell us what you like about it?

I wouldn’t necessarily know how to pick my favourite one (as there are different aspects among different projects that I categorise as successful), but I would say the one I grade most successful in terms of achieving the desired aim of engaging the public is the Pure Human project. I was really intrigued by the quick shift in reactions it was able to generate, ranging from complete outrage at the beginning (due to its provocative nature) to, in some cases, acceptance and even embracing of the new ethical boundaries explored within it. The reach of the project also stretched to tweaking the interest of new stakeholders that previously didn’t have an interest in the field of practice the project was set in.

Pure Human (Photo by Tom Mannion)

If students asked about the practical or professional applications of this type of design, what would you say? (Or What are the practical or professional applications of this type of design?)

Work with institutions and organisations that have an interest in assessing the impact and look into the behaviour shifting consequences the introduction of a/their new tech/science might generate. An example within my practice would be working alongside publicly funded science researchers and makers who are coming up with all those amazing technologies but seek the guidance of speculative designers to foresee the ethical implications they might have when released into the mainstream.

In your opinion what is the purpose of Speculative Design? Please suggest up to three key metrics for evaluating the success of a project.

Speculative Design outputs are not confined to limitations set by human behaviour and are aimed at challenging assumptions and givens about the role that products play in everyday life as well as promoting new ones that are at odds with those of today.

In my personal view, a good Speculative Design output is assessed on how well it sits between the here-and-now and the yet-to-be world. The design methodology employed to develop it is taking into consideration the consumer vs. citizen paradox present in each individual (the fact that we discuss issues as citizens but shape the reality as consumers). Speculative Design thinks about current laws, political systems, social beliefs, ethics, values, fears and hopes, and projects how they can be translated into future material expressions and embodied into the material culture.

The Self-Donor Workshop (Photo: Tina Gorjanc Archive)


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