Aarhus Universitets segl

What if we could imagine alternative futures?

A simple question, but a difficult quest. Students of "Design as a critical practice" present 12 critical and speculative designs, each crafted with the intent to unravel the mysteries concealed behind the question "what if...?".

What if your technology could say no? What if a 100% life was achievable? What if staying safe from blood clots was a fashion statement? In the realm of creativity and imagination lies the power to envision alternative worlds not bound by the constraints of the present. 

On November 24th, students presented their projects at a design expo, located at DoKK1, Aarhus. The students have been working with critical and speculative design thinking, and the projects are the result of a semester-long critical enquiry into digital and data-based technologies.  

Through interactive prototypes, the students sought to challenge visitors to explore the intersections of technology, humanity, and the uncharted territories of our collective imagination.

In the course ”Design as Critical Practice”, students learn different paradigms and tactics to design technologies that can provoke, open debates and allow conversations about our relation to technology. With the goal to help consumers and designers break free of streamlined thinking and passive acceptance of how things are, the critical designs invite visitors to reflect upon our current technological developments by imagining new worlds. 

Before reading about the projects, consider this message from the students: "As you engage with these designs, let your imagination roam freely, for it is within the boundless realm of "what if...?" that innovation finds its roots and creativity blossoms."



What if a 100% life was achievable? Elevate is a solution for those who want to lead their 100% life. Perfectly balanced. No compromises between studies, work, friends, etc. The design imagines a near future where a little self-harm is a perfectly acceptable means to do more. Maybe going to more extremes is necessary in order to keep up.   


Birth Control Baddie 

What if staying safe from blood clots was a fashion statement? A way of carrying on women's sexual liberation, while increasing safety from blood clots. This way you can enjoy your liberated, independent woman duties, while reducing your risks of blood clots – without having to do a thing. So go on and live your best life, you "birth control baddie".


Tinder Exposed

What if Tinder became a Trustpilot for dating? Are you also tired of hos shallow dating apps have become? Tired of being ghosted or treated like a game? By creating a rating system all these problems will disappear as daters now has a score to assess other daters by. A rewarding system is also implemented! It will be possible to obtain medals to show others what a great dater you are. 



Online dating feels overwhelming and pointless... So why not let AI do the dirty work? If you've experienced using online dating apps, then you've likely encountered the monotonous grind of endless swiping, before finally matching with somebody decent. So, what will happen if these shallow online experiences were replaced by AI. Will it take away our want for connection? What will it lead to, if we deem the process unnecessary, and simply just let AI do the work for us...  



What if welfare technology was introduced in kindergartens? Mooders – a revolutionary welfare technology designed to optimize quality and price in your kindergarten! With Mooders each pedagogue can be exclusively responsible for 12 children. Each child is given a Mooders wristband and signed into a pedagogue’s group. Every 15 minutes the Mooder lights up and the child is asked to evaluate how they are feeling at that moment. With Mooders we imagine a world 20 years into the future. How will daycare look? 


Mother Of Boards

What if your technology could say no? The “Mob” is a technological-heart that, when applied to any technology of choice will give the technology an agency. This new agency + tech will unleash a possibility for the technology to refuse the serving of the user unless being treated fairly. As such, to make sure no one is to misuse or treat their technology poorly, the Mob infested technology will only respond to acts of love and care. A technology that enables a dialogue of a society with post-tech; a society with more-than-technology agency.



Reconverting data into memories. Memoria is a critical design aiming to provoke reflection about our need to document life and the value of our accumulated “memories” in the cloud. Every month, users are promoted to curate their digital memories. They can take all the photos they want, but before the month ends, they must select five memories for preservation. Those not chosen are scheduled for automatic deletion. Overall, Memoria encourages a balanced relationship with technology and serves as a reminder that quantity does not equate to significance.


All By Yourself-Check Out

Gaslighting the consumer. It seems like there are a thousand factors to consider when shopping for groceries: animal-welfare, workers’ rights, carbon footprint, etc. But how do we expect the consumer to make alle of these choices, when corporations are free to market their products in misleading ways? This product proposes a supermarket that educates consumers while shopping, so the consumers are better able to make the “better choice”.  



Are electric cars the right solution? What if your car dealer was honest? Electric cars are among one of the initiatives people trust to be part of the solution to reducing CO2 emissions for several reasons. However, people often overlook what lies behind their production or what will happen in the future. This questions all the information left out in the process of buying an electric car. The project is an interactive conversation with an honest car dealer – a different perspective from what would typically unfold in this buying situation.


Oblivious Inc.

What if we could create a brain censorship interface to shield us from harmful content in our surroundings and make a safer tomorrow? We are currently focused on giving people with PTSD, assault survivors and kids a less violent and racist world by censoring their environments in real-time. Our brain censorship interface is fully implantable, cosmetically invisible, and designed to let you and your caretaker control what you see and hear everywhere you go.



What if we could reclaim agency over these algorithms or, at the very least, render their decision-making processes transparent? Melon Plugin - Your solution to counteract the bias and narrative distortion on digital platforms! Don’t just be a bystander – join the movement to combat biased narratives. Together, we can create a more informed, compassionate, and united world.


Algorithmic Mirror

In the Algorithmic Mirror, you are invited to explore the reality of your digital self as conceived by the operational images of the digital era – Algorithms. This installation holds a lens both ways to the complex interplay between our personal identity, and the systems created to know us. It invites you to engage with the conversation around our digitally processed world. How much of our identity is ours when represented through the algorithmic prism, and can we ever truly control how we are perceived when we pass through the digital filter?

Encouraging students to envision alternatives to current data practices and technologies is the core objective of the course. This involves a focus on critical and speculative design-practice as a methodology for understanding the challenges linked to technology and its use. Instead of immediately proposing solutions, the emphasis is placed on identifying and working with complex problems and imagining a different future, in order to make better design decisions today — a critical thinking skill-set that students develop throughout the duration of the course.  

Design as a critical practice was led by Margrete Lodahl Rolighed. Contact: margretelr@cc.au.dk

If you would like to hear more about the course, exhibitions, or projects do not hesitate to reach out.

Contact the department:  afdelingsleder.ddinf@cc.au.dk