Phil Balagtas

Senior Staff Designer at GE Aviation / San Francisco, CA, United States

Shaping Signals: Preparing for the Future Through Speculative Design





Design synthesis today can take many routes. Often we ideate through divergence into wild ideas, sometimes bordering on the fringe of the impossible, then we converge on reality to devise a feasible and desirable product. Speculative and Critical Design are approaches within design thinking that can be used as tools to surface and address social, cultural, and ethical issues. It enables versatile thinking and serves as a useful platform for discovery, conversation, and awareness that can help fuel different perspectives of the future. It’s up to us to use these exercises and inspiration to craft the right future built with imagination, ethics, and responsibility.

This talk will walk through selected projects that play in the realm of Speculative Design and the case for why it should be used to understand different challenges the future may hold. I will make the case for why this approach can be practical in a business environment and its importance in teaching designers to free their creative compass and strengthen their innovation prowess.

Participants will learn:

  • How speculative design can be used to address important social, cultural ethical issues about the future
  • How speculative design can be used practically in any business setting
  • How to use speculative design as a tool for enhancing and expanding your lens in design thinking
  • See striking and confrontational projects that address real issues that need to be addressed in today’s world

Phil has been a Visual & UX Designer since 2001 and has experience designing across a variety of devices and platforms within non-profit, retail, advertising, and enterprise software organizations. He is currently a Senior Designer & Researcher for Digital Solutions within Aviation at General Electric working with airlines to use big data to improve operational & fuel efficiency. An educator and futurist, he also organizes and leads design skill programs and is founder of SF/ATX Speculative Futures which focuses on cultural and social impact of design for the future.