Projects

THE FUTURE OF RAIL 2035

COMMISSIONED BY
DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT UK
YEAR
2016
PARTNERS
STRANGE TELEMETRY,POLICY LAB

PROJECT BACKGROUND

This project was a collaboration between Strange Telemetry, Policy lab, and Superflux. It consisted of engagements with the Department for Transport, various rail stakeholders and members of the public. The project ran a series of workshops, and utilised some speculative artefacts as prompts for discussion with various stakeholders.

 

WHAT WE DID

The first phase of the project was organised and facilitated by Cat Drew and her team at Policy Lab. They started with a grounding of field research and ethnography to understand the challenges facing rail passengers today. From a blind person’s experience of the accessibility facilities throughout the rail network, to a mother’s struggle and reliance on smartphone apps to bring her young daughter from A to B. This was a necessary first step not only for us but for the DfT to understand what passengers on the current network were facing on their everyday journeys. Furthermore, the ethnography sessions also allowed DfT to frame the factors which might influence policy decisions in the next 20 years.

After this we designed some speculative artefacts based on future trends and a typical journey resulting in four scenarios. We brought our artefacts to two workshops with the public in London and Sheffield. The groups consisting of members of the public were divided up into several groups and were each given an artefact to explore. These were mundane artefacts that people would be familiar with: from a rail map, to a poster of an app or a leaflet. Along with the artefacts each group was given a persona to think about, a typical journey and a future trend such as the devolution of an ageing rail infrastructure, strong vs. weak economy, etc. We then facilitated each group with a series of simple questions and prompts such as: “How do you feel about this?” “What you like don’t like?” and “Do you know anyone who would use this service?”

 

DESIGNING THE ARTEFACTS

It was our task to design the artefacts for these workshops. We were faced with a problem of trying not to give away too much information, and allowing room for ambiguity. As Bill Gaver puts it “design for interpretative ambiguity”. This is the idea that allowing people enough room to think about the interactions relevant to their own lives, rather than sticking to the norms and conventions seen in larger systems.

Some of the artefacts we designed could have been relevant today, and people in the workshops did pick up on the fact that “some artefacts weren’t really futuristic enough.” We added small discrepancies into the artefacts, an iOS app logo and no android logo on a poster for a train ticket swapping app, to hints about brexit and the term semi autonomous in an autonomous car service brochure prompting a debate around what this meant.

 

We would have liked to have made these artefacts more tangible, and had early ideas about printing actual tickets and selling them in a mock station ticket booth experience. But with all projects time and budget constraints got the better of us. Nevertheless the experience of the workshops and artefacts worked well, allowing room for questioning and debate.

We also got the opportunity run a short session with students and members of the public at the service design fringe festival showing them the artefacts and gauging their responses from the designs.

 

SUPERFLUX

Somerset House Studios, London UK
hello@superflux.in
All rights reserved © 2017. No. 6601242

Web Design > SONIA DOMINGUEZ
Development > TOUTENPIXEL

We'd love to hear from you

New projects
Internships
General enquiries

Studio M48,
Somerset House Studios,
New Wing, Somerset House,
Strand, London, WC2R 1LA

Title By Date
From Active Hope to Tangible Realities: Interview with Anab Jain Superflux 04.12.2023
The Quiet Enchanting launches on the Strand Superflux 19.10.2023
Action Speaks Summit Now Open at New York Climate Week 2023 Superflux 21.09.2023
Radical Design For A World In Crisis in Noema Magazine Superflux 27.04.2023
Superflux featured in Design Week Superflux 17.03.2023
Announcing Superflux’s ambitious new initiative: CASCADE INQUIRY Superflux 10.01.2023
ANAB & JON RECEIVE THE ROYAL DESIGNER FOR INDUSTRY (RDI) AWARD 2022 Nicola 10.01.2023
SAFE: A Collection of Works Exploring Safer Futures Superflux 05.10.2022
Superflux Featured on BBC Radio 4 Anab 10.08.2022
SUBJECT TO CHANGE: Announcing Superflux’s first-ever solo exhibition at The DROOG Gallery Superflux 04.02.2022
Superflux’s new immersive installation opens at Museum of the Future, Dubai Superflux 23.02.2022
Design Studio of the Year Award 2021 Superflux 17.12.2021
A More Than Human Manifesto Superflux 17.12.2021
Superflux Interview in ICON Magazine Superflux 12.12.2021
“Dreamed-up Designs”: a Financial Times feature on Superflux Superflux 18.06.2021
Calling Creative Producers! Nicola 08.02.2021
‘Our Friends Electric’ acquired by the European Patent Office Anab 15.03.2021
Emerging Futures Grant from National Lottery Community Fund Nicola 16.11.2020
‘Standing on the Shoulders’ Podcast: On Plural Futures and Multi-Species Companionship Superflux 01.10.2020
Superflux Invited to La Biennale Di Venezia 2021 Superflux 03.07.2020
EU Horizon 2020 Grant for Superflux and Partners Superflux 19.06.2020
Experiments in Indoor Farming Leanne 08.06.2020
Calling for a More-Than-Human Politics Superflux 23.03.2020
Superflux Feature in ‘Feeling the Future’ Conference Superflux 24.06.2020
Spring in Flux Nicola 14.04.2020
Calling Creative Producers! Nicola 29.01.2020
Inviting Internship Applications Superflux 16.01.2020
Come Work With Us Superflux 01.10.2019
Stop Shouting Future, Start Doing It Anab 24.01.2019
2018 Highlights Danielle Knight 21.12.2018
Instant Archetypes: A toolkit to imagine plural futures Nicola 01.11.2018
TED Talk: Why We Need To Imagine Different Futures Anab 19.06.2017
Cartographies of Imagination Anab 30.09.2018
Tackling the Ethical Challenges of Slippery Technology Anab 11.06.2018
AI, HUMANITARIAN FUTURES, AND MORE-THAN-HUMAN CENTRED DESIGN Nicola 08.06.2018
The Future Starts Here Danielle Knight 29.05.2018
Studio News: Power, AI and Air Pollution Jake 09.10.2017
Future(s) of Power Launch Event Anab 09.10.2017
BUGGY AIR AT DESIGN FRONTIERS Jake 15.09.2017
Calling all comrades & collaborators! Nicola 14.09.2017
CAN SPECULATIVE EVIDENCE INFORM DECISION MAKING? Anab 31.05.2017
STUDIO NEWS: TED, MAPPING, FOOD COMPUTERS, AND THE FUTURE OF WORK. Jake 21.04.2017
BACK TO THE FUTURE: WHAT WE DID IN 2016 Jake 31.01.2017
REALITY CHECK: PRESENTING AT UNDP SUMMIT Jon 06.12.2016
MITIGATION OF SHOCK JOURNAL Jon 12.07.2016
STUDIO HAPPENINGS Anab 04.07.2016
PROFESSORSHIP AT THE UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED ARTS VIENNA Anab 28.06.2016
HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2015 Anab 30.12.2015
SUPERFLUX MAGAZINE, ISSUE 1. Anab 21.04.2015
THE DRONE AVIARY JOURNAL Anab 09.04.2015
IOT, DRONES AND SPACE PROBES: ALTERNATE NARRATIVES Anab 01.03.2015
AUTUMN NEWS Jon 08.11.2014
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES AND DESIGN: AN INTERVIEW WITH SARA HENDREN Anab 07.11.2014
A QUARTERLY UPDATE FROM THE STUDIO Anab 11.05.2014
IN THE LOOP: DESIGNING CONVERSATION WITH ALGORITHMS Alexis 04.04.2014
IOTA WINS NOMINET TRUST FUNDING Jon 25.10.2013
SAILING THE SEAS OF SUPERDENSITY: GUEST POST BY SCOTT SMITH Scott 19.10.2013
DNA STORIES: GUEST POST BY CHRISTINA AGAPAKIS Christina 30.09.2013
PRESS RELEASE: DYNAMIC GENETICS VS. MANN Jon 01.08.2013
AN INTRODUCTION TO INFRASTRUCTURE FICTION: GUEST POST BY PAUL GRAHAM RAVEN Paul 24.06.2013
SUPERNEWS, VOL 1. Jon 08.04.2013