Speculative Solar Towards long term futures and sustainability
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- Design 
With the onset of cataclysmic climate change and the sixth mass extinction, organised human life is presented with a bleak future. Even in our collective imagination we are forced to comprehend the self-reinforcing loops of dystopian thinking. This project proposes an exploration in speculative industrial design through both process and artefact-making for the purposes of creating a more resilient, hopeful narrative of the future and subsequently provide alternatives to our current predicament. The specific speculation focuses on the context of solar energy but the project could just as well be applied in diverse ways to a number of inquiries of the future(s). From an interdisciplinary lens, this project has attempted to trigger a discourse through industrial design, ways in which we can think about a long term future that is sustainable for future generations in the age of the Anthropocene. In so far as it enables for visualising scenarios and as a tool for collaboration, a speculative future fiction in VR was also explored as a means to ‘time-travel’ where the designed artefact from the future could be interacted with and brought back to the present. As a manifestation of that future transposed back to the present, an artefact, a 3D printed optical solar cell was proposed as a potential alternative to existing solar cells. The designed artefact here draws on existing technology as means of agency, enabled by industrial design to create a framework of climate action that this project proposes is critical to long term futures thinking and sustainability. The exploration of the process also poses the question “what if” to the ways in which industrial design can serve society today and how it could strive towards visions of better, more thriving paradigms as we head into an uncertain future.