UMK - The United Micro Kingdoms
DIGITARIANS - Digitarians depends on digital technology and all its implicit totalitarianism.
COMMUNO-NUCLEARISTS - The Communo-nuclearist society is a no-growth, limited population experiment.
BIOLIBERALS - Bioliberals are social democrats who embrace biotechnology and the new values that this entails.
ANARCHO-EVOLUTIONISTS - The Anarcho-evolutionists abandon most technologies and concentrate on using science to maximise their own physical capabilities.

UMK MAP

Move your mouse over the map to discover the kingdoms

UMK - The United Micro Kingdoms

UMK

UNITED MICRO KINGDOMS: 
A DESIGN FICTION

The United Micro Kingdoms (UmK) is divided into four super-shires inhabited by Digitarians, Bioliberals, Anarcho-evolutionists and Communo-nuclearists. Each county is an experimental zone, free to develop its own form of governance, economy and lifestyle. These include neoliberalism and digital technology, social democracy and biotechnology, anarchy and self-experimentation and communism and nuclear energy. The UmK is a deregulated laboratory for competing social, ideological, technological and economic models.

UMK MAP

Move your mouse overTap on the map to discover the kingdoms

Digitarians

Digitarians depend on digital technology and all its implicit totalitarianism — tagging, metrics, total surveillance, tracking, data logging and 100% transparency. Their society is organised entirely by market forces; citizen and consumer are the same. For them, nature is there to be used up as necessary. They are governed by technocrats, or algorithms — no one is entirely sure, or even cares — as long as everything runs smoothly and people are presented with choices, even if illusionary. It is the most dystopian, yet familiar of all the micro kingdoms.

Digiland is made of vast, never-ending planes of tarmac. A cross between airport runways, sports fields and car parks, dense with markings that no human can decode. A landscape exclusively designed for machines.
Digiland is made of vast, never-ending planes of tarmac. A cross between airport runways, sports fields and car parks, dense with markings that no human can decode. A landscape exclusively designed for machines.
This animation describes a variety of scenarios of traffic systems, Digiland’s tarmac topography and Digicar movements.
This animation describes a variety of scenarios of traffic systems, Digiland’s tarmac topography and Digicar movements.
This animation describes a variety of scenarios of traffic systems, Digiland’s tarmac topography and Digicar movements.

DIGICARS

The Digicar is a development of electric self-drive cars being pioneered today. The car has evolved from being a vehicle for navigating space and time, to being an interface for navigating tariffs and markets. Every square metre of road surface and every millisecond of access, at any moment, is monetized and optimised. Passengers are required to stand to minimise the vehicle’s footprint, and are happier to communicate virtually with distant friends than fellow commuters.

Today, self-drive cars are presented as social spaces for relaxing commutes, but Digicars are closer to economy airlines, offering the most basic, but humane experience. It is essentially an appliance, or computer, constantly calculating the best, most economic route.

pinterest.com/a3sth3t1cs/digitarians

COMMUNO-NUCLEARISTS

The Communo-nuclearist society is a no-growth, limited population experiment. Using nuclear power to deliver near limitless energy, the state provides everything needed for their continued survival. Although they are energy rich it comes at a price — no one wants to live near them. Under constant threat of attack or accident, they live on a continually moving, 3 kilometre, nuclear-powered mobile landscape. Consequently, they are organised as a highly disciplined mobile micro-state. Fully centralised, everything is planned and regulated. They are voluntary prisoners of pleasure, free from the pressures of daily survival, communists sharing in luxury not poverty. Like a popular night club there is a one-out one-in policy, but for life.

TRAIN

The train is comprised of 75 carriages, each measuring 40 metres in length by 20 metres in width. Straddling two sets of 3 metre wide tracks, it travels at 4 miles per hour, and never stops. Inhabitants live inside the mountain carriages which also contain labs, factories, hydroponic gardens, gyms, dorms, kitchens, nightclubs and everything else they need. On the mountains are swimming pools, fish farms, and bookable huts for periods of isolation. The environment surrounding the tracks, like a demilitarised zone has become a natural paradise, a wilderness to be enjoyed by nature-loving Communo-nuclearists from the safety of their train.

pinterest.com/a3sth3t1cs/boards


▶ Discover more about the train

BIOLIBERALS

Bioliberals are social democrats who embrace biotechnology and the new values that this entails. They live in a world where the hype of synthetic biology has come true and delivered on its promises — a society in symbiosis with the natural world. Biology is at the centre of their world-view, leading to a radically different technological landscape to our own. Nature is enhanced to meet growing human needs, but people also adjust their needs to match available resources. Each person produces their own energy according to their needs. Bioliberals are essentially farmers, cooks and gardeners. Not just of plants and food, but of products too. Gardens, kitchens and farms replace factories and workshops.

Stefan Schwabe harvesting kombucha biocar covers
Stefan Schwabe harvesting kombucha biocar covers

BIOCARS

Bioliberals regard the use of huge amounts of energy to overcome gravity and wind resistance to be counterproductive and primitive. Faster is no longer better. People travel in extremely light organically grown vehicles, each customised to its owner’s dimensions and needs.

The bioliberal car combines two technologies: anaerobic digesters that produce gas, and fuel cells that use the gas to produce electricity. Bags of uncompressed gas cannot compete with the efficiency of fossil fuels, a fuel based on millions of years of preparation compared to one that takes hours or days. The resulting cars are bulky, messy, smelly, and made of artificial lab-grown skin, bone and muscle, not literally, but in abstracted forms. Wheels, for example, are powered individually using jelly-like artificial muscles.

pinterest.com/a3sth3t1cs/bioliberals

ANARCHO-EVOLUTIONISTS

The Anarcho-evolutionists abandon most technologies, or at least stop developing them, and concentrate on using science to maximise their own physical capabilities through training, DIY biohacking and self-experimentation. They believe that humans should modify themselves to exist within the limits of the planet rather than modifying the planet to meet their ever growing needs. There are a high number of post-humanists amongst the Anarcho-evolutionists, individuals whose physiologies have been improved beyond that which is considered naturally human. They essentially take evolution into their own hands. Very little is regulated, citizens can do as they please as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.

CYCLIST, BALLOONIST, PITSKY AND HOX 

The family or clan is the most important social unit. Families evolve around particular forms of transport using a combination of genetic modification, training and the passing down of knowledge and skills from generation to generation. A distinctive physique is associated with each clan, and is a matter of pride. Cyclists have well developed thighs, while Balloonists are tall and willowy and so on.

As well as modifying themselves, Anarcho-evolutionists have developed new forms of animal to satisfy their needs. The Hox is a mix of horse and ox, a hybrid animal bred to move heavy loads and pull carriages, while the Pitsky is a combination of pit bull terrier and husky, designed for pulling smaller loads and personal protection.

VERY LARGE BIKE (VLB)

The Anarcho-evolutionist’s world is a world without cars. Their transport is either human, wind or (genetically modified) animal powered. The vehicles are designed around the principle of organisation without hierarchy and embody their social order and values. Sociability and co-operation are more important than speed and competitiveness.

The Anarcho-evolutionists travel in groups, each doing what they are best at, and each is responsible for a bit of the vehicle. The Very Large Bike (VLB) is designed for travelling long distances in groups, pooling effort and resources. Travelling on abandoned motorways, it is gently steered by leaning, each person knowing from experience and practice just how much is required of them. While the elderly, young and weak are not able to pedal and are carried along by the others, their role is that of expert singers and story tellers, providing entertainment and motivation to the others. 

pinterest.com/a3sth3t1cs/anarcho-evolutionists

DESIGN MUSEUM
01 May - 26 August

Open daily 10am - 5.45pm

Design Museum, Shad Thames,
London SE1 2YD

 

#DesignFiction

 

Design Fiction late night opening
Friday 17 May, 7 - 10.30pm

 

BOOKING
Buy exhibition tickets in advance from
W Ticketweb (booking fee applies)
E tickets@designmuseum.org
T 020 7940 8783

 

MORE VISTOR INFORMATION:
http://designmuseum.org/visit-us

 

WHAT ARE DESIGN FICTIONS?

Design fictions are a mix of science, design and fiction. The term describes an emerging area of design that uses storytelling as an experimental device to question the world around us. Using a combination of concepts, objects and visuals, design fictions are propositions for how things could be done differently. Depending on the viewer’s perspective, these fictions can be understood as anything from a cautionary tale to a Utopian ideal.

 

London based designers Dunne & Raby have been working with what they refer to as Critical Design, Speculative Design and thought experiments for many years.  Combining elements of industrial design, architecture, anthropology, science and sociology they stimulate discussion and debate about the social, cultural and ethical implications of existing and emerging technologies. Dunne & Raby are also renowned educators, with Anthony Dunne heading the Design Interactions programme at London’s Royal College of Art, while Fiona Raby is professor of Industrial Design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. 

 

In conceiving the United Micro Kingdoms, Dunne & Raby have reinterpreted the car and associated transport systems, offering multiple perspectives on a fictional England. Situated between reality and fiction the exhibition speculates about potential scenarios and challenges our perceived notions about the way that products, services and systems are made and used.

CREDITS

Project concept and design – Dunne & Raby

 

Graphic design and art direction – Kellenberger-White

Animation and website – Nicolas Myers

3D exhibition design and production – Faudet-Harrison

Tariff structure development – Tobias Revell

Computer generated images – Tomasso Lanza

Computer modelling – Graeme Findlay 

Biocar covers – Stefan Schwabe

Photography – Jason Evans 

Technical research and design – Nick Williamson

Model production and development - Main Titles, CadAdventure, Unit 22 Modelmakers & Alastair Hamer at Rapidform RCA

Design Museum project management – Alex Newson 

 

The Design Museum would like to thank Camira Fabrics and Abet Laminati for their generous support of the exhibition

 

Dunne & Raby would like to thank The Royal College of Art; The University of Applied Arts, Vienna; Prof Richard Ashcroft; Mark Beatson; Prof Paul Freemont; Simon Ings and Prof Cynthia Weber