Transdisciplinary Design

Dare to Imagine

Posted on November 25, 2015 | posted by: student

Christian Smirnow’s last blog post: ” It’s a matter of reflective capabilities ” discussed the space our program allows him for critical reflection on today’s systems and design propositions, about the “open-ended ideation process” of the Transdisciplinary Design strategies, one’s that thrive for social change and reflects on large scales issues. [1]

Dunne and Raby in their inspirational and highly recommended text ‘ Speculative Everything ’ presents us with Speculative Design. A method  that motivates us to imagine new forms for how things can be, accelerator reflection on how things are and creates new possibilities for reality, one that can lead to critical thinking and reflection on different futures, by designing ideas. As they say : “This form of design thrives on imagination and aims to open up new perspectives on what are sometimes called wicked problems, to create spaces for discussion and debate about alternative ways of being, and to inspire and encourage people’s imaginations to flow freely. Design speculations can act as a catalyst for collectively redefining our relationship to reality”. [2] A few years ago I was given advice to dare to imagine new possibilities for what I define real and by reading this text I now dare to imagine using design to do so.

When working at the Design Museum of Holon, Israel I had the privilege to study closely about Iris Van Herpen’s designs. Van herpen is a young (1984) fashion designer from the Netherlands. Van Herpen is known for her unusual designs in which she combines crafts, traditional handicrafts aside to 3D printing and challenges the perceptions of the audience. Fashion for Van Herpen is a means of self-expression and in this context the question of the functionality of a garment does not serve as a starting point for creation. The question of material representation in her ideas is central to her work. One of her collections: ‘Radiation Invasion’ (September 2009) is about all the invisible radiation waves around us. She asks : “Are we going to be able to see them in the future, and what do they do with our bodies?”.[3] This collection talks about the waves and signals that are all around us but are hidden to view and allow us long distance connections and transform information. These invisible radiations and signals around us allow telecommunication. Van Herpen examines the human experience to understand the organism around us and project from the incoming conclusions about the way we act. When walking alongside high school students, through her designs in the exhibition ‘New Couture’ from Groninger Museum collection last year, I was able to provoke a conversation between us about our day to day life. From the way we connect with our technology, with people around us and with our bodies. While Van Herpen is not necessary a speculative designer her works allow us to imagine possible futures, she creates her own personal world and dares to imagine new realities, even in the sense of examining the interface between design- art and fashion.

I am only at the beginning of my speculating everything and although I am not really an optimistic person, I feel transforming our way of thinking, creating new possibilities for the “real”, can transform our actions, as designers and as human beings.

“The ideas inside our heads shape the world out there. If our values, mental models, and ethics change, then the world that flows from that worldview will be different, and we hope better”.[4]


Noa Bartfeld.


[1] Smirnow, Christian. It’s a matter of reflective capabilities.Transdisciplinary Design Insights (October 24 2015).

[2] Dunne, Anthony; Raby, Fionna. Speculative Everything. The MIT Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England (2013).

[3] Hellqvist, David. “Iris Van Herpen S/S 10.” Dazed. 12 Nov. 2009.<>.

[4] Dunne, Anthony; Raby, Fionna. Speculative Everything. The MIT Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England (2013).