Video Creative Director: Christian Svanes Kolding; Video Producers: Nicolas Nova and Julian Bleecker; Production Manager and Technical Director: Tom Bray; Co-Director of Photography and Camera Operator: Marcus Bleecker; Camera Operators: Zack Jacobsen-Weaver and Meghan Mulholland; Voice Over: Wen-Ting Yang

Making of TBD Catalog

A multidisciplinary group of thinkers, makers and near future speculators spent three days in Detroit to “do” science fiction: tangle up in fact and fiction and engage in curious crosstalk about the things that could be. The goal, then, was to Design Fiction and turn talk into deliberate actions and artifacts; to swerve the present by telling the story of a near future we imagine can be possible.

What we created — to spur conversations about the things that will matter in the near future — is a near future product catalog. For example, a SkyMall, or Sears Wish Book or McMaster-Carr catalog for the near future. Think of it as a near future science fiction sourcebook of products. It’s a collection of stuff , as if that collection of stuff existed as routinely as Sasquatch garden statuettes, inflatable neck pillows, combination USB thumb drive nail clipper laser pointers, battery-powered screwdrivers, allen wrench sets and flat tire repair kits.

TBD Catalog is meant to represent the materialization of conversations amongst a small group of designers, makers and writers. Into this catalog are things that express our sense of how the near future will be lived. It will express the pragmatic concerns, ambitions, fears, everyday needs and wishes of the future’s inhabitants as represented through the catalog’s contents — it’s diegetic prototypes.

To do this we considered the evolution of the ways and means of production of the near future, as well as shifts in the dynamics of creativity, law, aesthetic norms and values and incumbent measures of cultural achievement. TBD Catalog contains these Design Fiction products and things and services and present them as they would be when they become normal and everyday — even boring and mundane.

The Kit

We used the Design Fiction, Design Brief Creation Playing Cards (DF-DBCPC 0-7) to define the core elements of a designed product. One card from each color assigns the prompts for what the product is. These elements can be adorned as one sees fit, using the DF-PDIR 0-7, for example, to factor in additional attributes, names, brands, etc.

Each reference idiom can be randomly or algorithmically chosen as needed during, for example, the MadLibs® design phase, product definition, brief creation, in response to drawing a Joker from the DF-DBCPC 0-7, or as additions and variations to the DF-DBCPC 0-7 Attribute, Object or Design Action cards.

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The Catalog

As a result we produced the print catalog of the near future’s normal ordinary everyday with products, classifieds and many full-page advertisements. All in one catalog containing products from your likely near future. Future Protein Sources. See the Uber of Personal Security. Find out about Luxury Ice. Get in on the latest Social Network — Oglie: The Social Network for Your Pet. There are Anti-Drone Services in the future, as well as Data Enlargement Services. 3D Food Printer Accessories. And much, much more.

It's an awkward attempt by an awkward business to attract more eyeballs and sell more stuff in a near future where the screen world has become so saturated and overrun that other mediums, like paper, have become a natural spillover. It's a printed catalog you might pick up in your near future from the corner street vending box in your neighborhood.

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The Contributors

Aaron Straup Cope

New York City, USA

Bruce Sterling

Torino, Italy

Cezanne Charles

Ann Arbor, USA

Chris Woebken

Brooklyn, USA

Christian Svanes Kolding

New York City, USA

Emmet Byrne

Minneapolis, USA

Fabien Girardin

Barcelona, Spain

James Bridle

London, UK

John Marshall

Ann Arbor, USA

Julian Bleecker

Venice, USA

Karl Daubmann

Detroit, USA
Karl Daubmann

Lena Tesone

Pittsburgh, USA

Marc Greuther

Detroit, USA
Marc Greuther

Marcus Bleecker

New York City, USA

Moka Pantages

San Francisco, USA

Nick Foster

San Francisco, USA

Nicolas Nova

Geneva, Switzerland

Raphael Grignani

San Francisco, USA

Tom Bray

Ann Arbor, USA
Tom Bray