Time required:


Number of participants:

a group or team


A worksheet for every participant (A4) and cards/words for every category



Want to hear more about Thing of the Future – A Speculative Warm-Up?

Want to hear more about Thing of the Future – A Speculative Warm-Up?

When wanting to spark creativity, using the future as a speculative setting works really well. The only thing we know for sure about the future is that we don’t know anything about it, and if we put the reference date far enough away from the present, we truly have no idea how the world will look. Thinking that far ahead sets our minds free to better imagine things to be radical different.

This little tool prompts you with a random set of criteria for an object you need to imagine existing in the future. It works great as a warm-up exercise in creative workshops because it brings participants into a playful mood and helps them let go off their inner critical voice. Furthermore the output demonstrates that even while having a bit of fun, even the craziest ideas contain valuable notions, thoughts, or references. Perfect to do just before moving into a traditional ideation phase.

The method was originally developed and designed by Stuart Candy, one of the big international stars of speculative design and future thinking. The version of the tool you will find here has been slightly adapted to better fit the context of the Nordic and European regions, but the framework of the method and tool is all Stuart’s.

How the Tool Works

  1. Give all participants a worksheet and a random word from each of the three categories (future, terrain, and thing). You can also ask each participant to pick a random card from each pile. The important thing here, is that they feel it is totally by chance which combination they receive.
  2. Ask the participants to put the cards at the top of the worksheet or write the words directly on the sheet, and then ‘design’ a thing that falls within the categories of the words/cards, by drawing it at the bottom of the worksheet. It’s important that you keep up the pace and not give them too much time for this exercise. Give them 5-10 minutes to do the design, that should be enough.
  3. Ask everyone to present their thing to the group in the way a documentarist from the future would.

The exercise can also be used more deliberately to focus participants towards a theme, challenge, or field of work by defining one of the three prompts beforehand. For example, if you were to design a new ticket-buying service, you could define from the beginning that the ‘thing’ prompt should be ‘ticket-buying service’ for all participants, leaving the other two prompts to be random.

By this, you show participants that even though they think they know everything there is to know about something they work on every day, a few unexpected and random criteria can change the playing field completely, giving space to a lot of new ideas and perspectives.

Download the material in separate files:


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  • 5 Step Storyboarding
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  • Give shape to your idea – The Pre Concept

    Create Pre-Concepts for your early ideas to better assess what will work and what needs further development.

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  • Make brainstorming easy and fun: Brainstorm Sudoku

    The Brainstorm Sudoku helps you frame your brainstorming session and guides you to quickly generate a larger pool of more creative ideas to choose from.

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