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Ethnographic Experiential Futures (EXF) is a design-driven, hybrid approach to foresight aimed at increasing the accessibility, variety and depth of available images of the future. Presented at Design Develop Transform Conference, Brussels, June 2017. A full peer-reviewed article on EXF has now been published in the Journal of Futures Studies, and is available at
MAP: Inquire into and record
people's actual or existing images
of the future (e.g. possible;
probable; preferred; a combination)
Choose an individual or group to
work with: scale could vary from
personal (e.g. Greyson, Making the
Futures Present) to large groups
such as a neighbourhood (e.g.
Candy & Dunagan, Foundfutures
Chinatown), company, or country.
Select a suitable time horizon for
inquiry (between, say, 10-50 years).
Images of the future may be
elicited via formal and face-to-
face processes such as Textor’s
Ethnographic Futures Research
interviews (e.g. Kornet, Causing an
Alternatively, less formal processes
could be used, such as unstructured
interviews (e.g. Foundfutures) or
direct observation (at a corporate
strategy conference for instance).
MULTIPLY: Generate alternative
images (scenarios) to challenge or
extend existing thinking (optional
step, but recommended)
Here you may choose to diversify
the researched images of the future
through generating alternatives,
such as by complementing the
usual EFR categories by adding
‘unexpected’ on top of ‘expected’
(e.g. Making the Futures Present).
This might be done in collaboration
with the research subjects or by the
futurist/researcher herself.
Omit if primary research goal is
to deepen existing futures (e.g.
Causing an Effect) or if diversity of
original inputs meets requirements
(e.g. Situation Lab/Extrapolation
Factory, 1-888-FUTURES).
MEDIATE: Translate these ideas
about the future/s into experiences:
tangible, immersive, visual or
interactive representations
This step is about moving from
vague ideas about the future to
more specic ones. You could
use a tool such as the Experiential
Futures Ladder to get from a Setting
(scenario concept) to a Scenario
(particular hypothetical), and onward
to ideas for 1:1-scale Situations or
Stuff (artifacts).
You may opt to serve as a
‘facilitator’ such that participants
produce their own materials (e.g.
Or, you may serve as a ‘designer’
and do the translating yourself (e.g.
Causing an Effect; Foundfutures).
A hybrid approach is also available;
co-creating artifacts or prototypes
with the participant/s (e.g. Making
the Futures Present).
MOUNT: Stage experiential
scenario/s to encounter for the
original subject/s, or others (or
In steps 3 and 4, for impact
consider diegetic integrity (realism
and polish in the nished product;
delity to the hypothetical): how
would this thing/scene really look and
feel if this future were happening?
The experiential scenario/s may
be shared in a relatively scripted
environment like a public exhibition
(e.g. Causing an Effect) or a
workshop (e.g. Making the Futures
Alternatively, the encounter could be
staged on an unsolicited basis, such
as a ‘guerrilla futures’ installation in
a city street (e.g. Foundfutures).
Mixed contexts of encounter are
also possible, such as the posting of
future artifacts in the mail or online
(e.g. 1-888-FUTURES).
MAP: Inquire into and record
responses to the experiential
This iteration of the mapping stage
completes a cycle. It is not identical
to the rst mapping task, as this
time you are recording responses
and reactions to design outcomes
that you have shaped, rather than
just describing what is found.
A formal version of this process
might involve interviewing the people
whose images were mapped
originally (e.g. Causing an Effect;
Making the Futures Present).
A more informal process could use
something like direct observation of
people encountering the experiential
scenarios (e.g. Foundfutures), or
online conversations and responses.
You could continue the process
again from here, or even
institutionalise it as ongoing.
Ethnographic Experiential
Futures is a design-driven, hybrid
approach to foresight aimed
at increasing the accessibility,
variety and depth of available
images of the future.
An individual, group or culture whose
images of the future you are interested in
understanding, surfacing and deepening.
Media for the creation of rapid and/
or high-delity prototypes.
This may be 2D (video; animation; digital
images; print matter; even pen and paper),
3D (basic construction materials; found
products/objects to hack), or 4D (live
A Field Guide by Stuart Candy and Kelly Kornet
Presented at Design Develop Transform, Brussels | June 2017 | v1.1 | Feedback welcome Stuart Candy @futuryst | Kelly Kornet @kellykornet
... EXF is an approach to futures research proposed by Candy and Kornet that combines Ethnographic Futures Research (EFR) and experiential scenarios. According to the authors, "Ethnographic Experiential Futures is a design-driven, hybrid approach to foresight aimed at increasing the accessibility, variety and depth of available images of the future" [29]. ...
... The EXF process identifies four main phases: Map, Multiply, Mediate, and Mount. The process is described as circular, susceptible to iteration since the experiential scenarios generated might trigger additional views on possible futures [29]. ...
... Building on the findings from mapping, the work during the Multiply phase focuses on producing alternate images about the future that challenge or extend the current thinking. As Candy and Kornet note, this work can be done in collaboration with the research participants [29]. In the context of this research, a participatory approach was adopted through co-design workshops in which participants were invited to ideate tools that collect and visualize learners' data (see Fig.3). ...
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In learning and education, techno-monitoring practices are a growing trend. While these practices are still emerging, there has been no public debate on education stakeholders’ preferred futures regarding techno-monitoring in learning and education. This study presents a participatory design case using speculative critical design to support higher education students’ reflection about possible futures related to techno-monitoring practices in learning in higher education. The participants’ experiences using a prototype that monitors mental states are presented in the form of stories, which reflect the students’ complex relations toward techno-monitoring. Participatory speculative critical design is highlighted as a successful strategy to create compelling futures scenarios that trigger critical reflection and debate among the education community.
... Design futuring methods [2,7], prototyping as well as scenario-based design [10] will be applied in order to explore how the future of hybrid and remote work conditions might look like in practice. Concrete concepts like Ethnographic Experiential Futures (EXF) [9] will help to sketch multiple 'alternative futures' of the future nature of work. Qualitative ethnographic methods like shadowing, interviews and focus groups will be applied. ...
... By supporting iterative process and communication (Schoemaker, 1991;van der Heijden, 1996;Candy, 2010;Malinga et al., 2013;Chakraborty and McMillan, 2015;Chermack and Coons, 2015;Candy and Dunagan, 2017;Candy and Kornet, 2017;Merrie et al., 2017), worldbuilding has potential to support growing calls to enact co-production of civic spaces. On its own, it does not have the capacity to address issues stemming from lack of powering sharing. ...
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Even as calls for more participatory urban planning have grown over the past half century, achieving meaningful and effective participation remains elusive. While disciplines beyond urban development are experimenting with narrative-driven engagement toolsets to cultivate greater degrees of public investment and collaborative capacity, less exploration on the power of such tools has been conducted in urban development circles. Toward the objective of reconciling the challenges of community engagement with the growing uncertainties and inequalities of contemporary cities, this paper explores the value of aiming beyond participatory planning toward co-production, and assesses the role of worldbuilding, a design approach with origins in fiction, in doing so. Specifically, the worldbuilding methods implemented in a project to envision dense urban environments in 2070 is positioned within growing calls for urban development to move toward co-production. The paper contributes to the wider discourse on tactics for collaboratively envisioning and enacting more equitable cities.
... The intersection of foresight studies and design has given rise to several new areas of theory, research and practice including Design Fiction (Lindley & Coulton, 2016;Sterling, 2005), Speculative/ Critical Design (Dunne & Raby, 2013) and Experiential Futures (Candy & Dunagan, 2017;Candy & Kornet, 2017) that are concerned with envisioning and prototyping both possible and preferable futures. Candy and Dunagan (2017, p. 3) note that "experiential futures [are able to] catalyse high quality engagement, insight, and action to shape change, using whatever means fits the situation" and seek to provide individuals and groups with glimpses of a future that resonates more deeply than other modalities. ...
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This paper outlines an emerging Transition Design approach for addressing “wicked” problems (such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, crime, poverty, pollution, etc.) and catalysing societal transitions toward more sustainable and desirable futures. Wicked problems are “systems problems” that exist within large, socio-technical systems and therefore require new problem solving approaches. The Transition Design Framework brings together an evolving body of practices that can be used to: 1. visualize and “map” complex problems and their interconnections and interdependencies; 2. situate them within large, spatio-temporal contexts; 3. identify and bridge stakeholder conflicts and leverage alignments; 4. facilitate stakeholders in the co-creation of visions of desirable futures; 5. identify leverage points in the large problem system in which to situate design interventions. Rather than a fixed, templatised process, the Transition Design Framework provides a logic for bringing together an evolving set of practices relevant to designing for systems level change. This paper reports on how this approach is being tested on a community based project that was informed by classroom based coursework.
... There are various typologies available for describing and mapping future imaginaries found among a population, including Ethnographic Futures Research (EFR) (Textor, 1995), Generic Images of the Future (Dator, 2009;Candy, Dator, Dunagan, 2006), and the Systems Mythology Toolkit (Hendricks, 2014). A framework for customising particular deployments following the whole process suggested above (map, multiply, mediate, mount, and map again) can be found in Ethnographic Experiential Futures (EXF), "a design-driven, hybrid approach to foresight aimed at increasing the accessibility, variety and depth of available images of the future" (Candy, Kornet, 2017). ...
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Las “visiones de futuros sostenibles” se han propuesto como un componente clave del diseño para la transición, “un medio a través del cual los estilos de vida contemporáneos y las intervenciones de diseño pueden evaluarse y criticarse contra la visualización de un futuro deseado” (Irwin et al, 2015a, p. 8). Tales ambiciones son necesariamente de amplio alcance, y requieren unir líneas sobre el diseño y la especulación de diversas fuentes. Aquí buscamos aumentar el impulso explorando un conjunto de conceptos que se relacionan particularmente con este papel de visión en el diseño de transiciones. Sobre la base de perspectivas y proyectos de otros campos, presentamos elementos de un vocabulario visionario, que abarca diferentes escalas y grados de eliminación del presente, y la ubicación de estos términos en relación con los desafíos específicos y las oportunidades para el pensamiento y la práctica de la transición. // “Visions of sustainable futures” have been proposed as a key component of Transition Design, “a means through which contemporary lifestyles and design interventions can be assessed and critiqued against a desired future state” (Irwin et al, 2015a, p. 8). Such ambitions are necessarily wide-ranging, and call for drawing together strands on design and speculation from diverse sources. Here we seek to add to the momentum by exploring a set of concepts relating particularly to this role of vision in designing for transitions. Building on perspectives and projects from other fields, we present elements of a visionary vocabulary, covering different scales and degrees of remove from the present, and situating these terms in relation to specific challenges and opportunities for transition thinking and practice.
... • • The potential to explore what a network/repository of interdisciplinary tools and methods might look like; • • The potential to explore the application of design futures methods for non-designers; • • The potential to further investigate the epistemological and ontological overlaps between the fields of transition design, experiential futures, and design futures. Further research is required to test and further develop design futures as an interdisciplinary approach to envisioning transformative change, as well as its relationships with transition design (Irwin 2015) and experiential futures (Candy and Kornet 2017). ...
The research starts from the premise that as the world is changing rapidly and in nonlinear ways, we are educating future practitioners for jobs and contexts that don’t yet exist. They instead need to be equipped to work for and with uncertainty to be able to grapple with the scale and pace of emergent change. The fields of design and futures studies bring significant insights to this challenge, including an array of methods, tools, and frameworks for prospective and systemic explorations of alternative futures. The emerging field of design futures can be framed as ways to develop and deploy prompts, artifacts, and narratives to critically interrogate tomorrow’s societal debates today; as such, it is intentional from the outset in its pursuit of preferable futures and therefore social and environmental justice. The process of imagining the future is an active, values-laden social practice, which requires a layered approach to a methodology to surface and challenge dominant patterns—making it an ideal approach for training the young people who will shape our future. This article reports on the design and delivery of participatory workshops that employ design futures methods to facilitate the exploration of transformative change for sustainability. These workshops were conducted with young people aged sixteen to seventeen to equip them to develop and explore alternative futures. The results suggest that design futures methods can facilitate participants from non-design backgrounds to develop alternative futures and artifacts that might sit within them. It was found that developing a sense of ownership was key to enabling participants to effectively reflect on alternative futures and their implications. Finally, the study highlights the potential for these methods to inform both design and sustainability pedagogy.
... Soon after sharing the draft framework at the Design/Develop/Transform Conference in Brussels (Candy & Kornet, 2017), we encountered a humanitarian activist initiative about girls in Syrian refugee camps being supported in imagining their own futures (Hutchison, n.d.). Vision Not Victim had originated in entirely different circumstances tied to neither the futures field nor design, yet followed the same trajectory (Candy, 2017), underscoring how the structure might genuinely be useful for traversing a wide project design space. ...
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This article contributes to emerging hybrid design/futures practices by offering an orienting framework making images of the future more legible and concrete. The Ethnographic Experiential Futures (EXF) Cycle provides, practically, a way of inviting engagement with diverse participants, and methodologically, a generic process drawing on two traditions of foresight (ethnographic and experiential futures), with a view to promoting a more diverse and deeper array of scenarios for public consideration. The structure of the EXF Cycle is derived from hybrid efforts carried out by design/futures practitioners over some years, abstracted as scaffolding to serve future projects in a wide range of contexts. This piece first appeared in 2019 in the Journal of Futures Studies special double issue on Design and Futures <>, and was later republished in The Knowledge Base of Futures Studies <>.
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Free download available at Google Books
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You can find an English version here: Von der Zukunftsforschung über die Philosophie und Soziologie bis zur Anthropologie beschäftigen sich zahlreiche Disziplinen mit dem Verständnis der Gesellschaft von der Zukunft und dies auf unterschiedlichsten Ebenen. So existieren Konzepte wie z. B. Social Imaginaries, um gesellschaftliche Erwartungen zu beschreiben. Noch werden diese aber kaum genutzt, um zum einen die unbewussten Zukunftserwartungen sichtbar und kritisierbar zu machen und so zum anderen die Möglichkeit zu schaffen, alternative Zukunftsbilder zu entwickeln, die jenseits der bisherigen Zukunftserwartungen liegen. Diese Arbeit will einen Begriff für die spezifischen Zukunftserwartungen in der Gesellschaft etablieren: Future Imaginaries. Dieser Begriff wird bereits vereinzelt verwendet, allerdings ohne genauer theoretisiert worden zu sein. Um sich einer ersten Beschreibung von Future Imaginaries anzunähern, werden die Konzepte von Zukunft (Future) aus der Zukunftsforschung und kollektiven Erwartungen (Imaginaries) aus der Soziologie und Anthropologie zusammengeführt. Das Ziel ist, einen theoriegeleiteten Entwurf für die Betrachtung von gesellschaftlichen Zukunftserwartungen aus der Perspektive der Zukunftsforschung zu entwickeln, auf dem ein methodischer Umgang mit diesen aufgebaut werden kann.
Conference Paper
Ethnographic Experiential Futures (EXF) is an approach to foresight that aims to increase the accessibility, variety and depth of images of the future for design. In this paper, we present a EXF-based case study imagining the future supermarket. Rooted in already-existing images of future supermarkets, we propose that the future super- market experience is autonomous, efficient, informed, local and personal. Based on the idea of four "generic futures" we illustrate each of these categories with a set of scenarios in a variety of ex- periential forms. These were exhibited first in an open exhibition and second in a closed exhibition for experts. To close, we offer reflections on the use of Ethnographic Experiential Futures in the form of a set of questions to inspire future research.
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