UNIT 8.4.


This unit aims to:

  • introduce the notion of hybrids in futures designing
  • define and characterise the role of a chimera
  • value play and fun in imaginative and critical designing present the generation of fantastic and absurd terms
  • connect the generation of terms to futures design and world views


1-2 hours


Jugglers, tricksters, magpies, conjurers. Just some of the labels given to adaptive, imaginative and mercurial characteristics of design and designers. This is not a negative quality but a set of capacities and talents that are about being able to reassess, reconfigure and indeed re-future design. Designers and designer-researchers typically select and recombine a mesh of materials and forms in shaping futures. They develop complex pathways through deep systems; they articulate interactions in screens and embed affordances in products.

Increasingly we see the hybridisation of the different domains of design into linked and integrated relations between products, interactions, services and systems. Graphics, media and Information Are scalable for different digital devices. Depths and flows of information meet infographics and big data is connected to layers of mediation, access and use. Mobile, social and personalised media are now entwined, in public sectors provisions of services and in the offerings, services and support from companies.


Hybrids may be understood as blends or meshes of selected elements, ones that are connected and woven together. They form new wholes, reflecting and relating to those elements but forming and articulating new compositions and devices of their own with different communicative and use potential and narratives. This is more than a matter of convergence of main strands or parts; it is the design of a new, composite artifact or process, use pathway or potential for influence or impact.

The term hybrids may be familiar to you from developments in the contemporary automotive sectors with twin fuel systems or in mixing of plant types or hybrid festivals, in physical and digital space. Hybridisation has also been used to describe the interplay of cultures in a world that has become globalised. 

In terms of the vocabularies and discourses of design, we often meet a mix of theories and methods that are taken up in our acts of making and analysis, as well as in modes of use and sharing. In this Unit we also take up the notions of hybrids to reactivate what is covered in the work with the device we called the NEOLOGISER in shaping new words and concepts. This device is performative: it helps generate new words for you to respond to, to define and maybe to incorporate in thinking about and working to communicate about emerging and speculative futures design.


Students of literature and mythology may have come across the creature character of the chimera. A chimera is a creature composed of others, a mix of characteristics, features and functions. It may be mythical and fantastic as well as grotesque or unexpected.

In Greek mythology the chimera is realised as a female monster, with the body of a goat, head of a lion and tail of a serpent. The chimera also breathes fire.

The term chimera can also be used to refer to a hybrid creature made of different elements. In reality a human or animal may also be a biological chimera when it contains the cells of others. There are ethical debates about the shaping of chimeras in genetics and genetic engineering.


We have introduced an ESSENTIAL called CHIMERA to provide you with a digitally generative device for assembling a random mix of words from the large list included on the Lexicon. 

THE CHIMERA produces unexpected, unlikely, fantastic, fun and even nonsense groupings of words. It does so to prompt, surprise and even provoke you to think further about how language may be used in shaping FUTURES DESIGN.

This device also supports the value of play in shaping our emerging and imaginative futures design. Play is not merely trivial; it is a key aspect of working creatively and critically.



1. Activate the CHIMERA.

2. Try it out for 10 times.

3. What do you meet? Are there any terms generated that you understand?

4. List these. Provide definitions for two of them.


1. Activate the CHIMERA once again and use it as many times as needed to generate 5 terms you think you could make use of in engaging with some aspect of FUTURES DESIGN or a part of your current work.

2. Go to the two ESSENTIALS called FRAMES 4 FUTURES (Frames filled) and the WORD-O-MAP.

3. Use these two ESSENTIALS to make sense of the 5 terms you selected.
When this term moves from a FRAME to another, what does it change in your understanding of a term? How too does it change its influence on the process of designing futures (according to you)?


1. Referring to relevant sections of the PHILOSOPHICAL PILLS, see if you can locate what kind of world view and approach to making sense of futures design your 5 terms embodies.
2. Briefly describe hoand where the terms might be used in your current work or project or a future or imagined one.
3. Go to the PHILOSOPHICAL PILLS and select one view/aspect and take it as your theme, see if you can generate any new terms via the CHIMERA.

Download this UNIT in printable format: 

Print Version



Celi, Manuela, and Andrew Morrison. 2017. “Anticipation and design inquiry.” In Handbook of Anticipation, edited by Roberto Poli, 1-25. Vienna: Springer.

Ellsworth, Elizabeth. 2005. Places of Learning. New York: Routledge.

Facer, Keri. 2011. Learning Futures. New York: Taylor & Francis

Fry, Tony. 2009. Design Futuring. New York: Berg.

Kerspern, Bastien. 2018. “Economic design fictions: Finding 1030 the human scale.” In Economic Science Fictions, edited by William Davies. London: Goldsmiths Press. Kindle.

Kerspern, Bastien. 2019. “Game design fiction: Bridging mediation through games and design fiction to facilitate anticipation-oriented thinking.” Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on Anticipation, Oslo School of Architecture and Design, 9-12 October 2019.

Koskinen, Ilpo, John Zimmerman, Thomas Binder, Johan and Stephan Wensveen. 2012. Design Research Through Practice. Oxford: Elsevier.

Latour, Bruno. 2018. Down to Earth. Cambridge, UK; Medford, MA: Polity Press.

Lave, Jean and Etienne Wenger. 1991. Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Miller, Riel, ed. 2018. Transforming the Future: Anticipation in the 21st Century. New York: Routledge.


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