Futures Garden – creating fictional artifacts through speculative design

Futures Garden aims at creating inspiring alternative future scenarios through the use of fictional future artifacts that invite to reflection and debate. The pilot project coordinated by Institutul de Prospectiva was carried out in 2024 and addressed two themes:

“Dealing with future selves” explores new ways of being, individually and collectively, examines new practices and technologies that enhance self-reflection and sharing of emotions, which help shape our choices in life and nurture a renewed sense of togetherness.

“Extending human perception to new scales” explores the richness of non-human intelligences, expanding our attention and appreciation for their unique sensory worlds, their “umwelt” – what they “feel” and how they “think”. In doing so it departs from the human-centric worldview towards a deeper understanding and celebration of life on Earth.

The project unfolded along several phases, depicted in the figure below and then further described:

  • Horizon scanning:

Identifying and curating cutting-edge concepts, theories, practices and technologies that may reshape our notion of futures selves and of extended human perception, by diving into literature from various fields (e.g. psychology, biology, epigenetics, biotechnology, neuroscience, cultural theory, spirituality). These content items were then used as a selection or in combination, depending on the concept design ideas in the speculative design phase.
The full results of the horizon scanning are available in the report Foresight literature review brief

  • Speculative Design:

Transforming selected briefs, together with design agencies NORMALS and Modem, into thought-provoking future artifacts in the form of short movies – Inwards and Symbiotic – which render the imagined future scenarios more tangible, immersive and engaging.

The full movies will become available for the wider public in June 2024.
The teasers below give a glimpse into this creative work:
Inwards teaser: https://vimeo.com/887304151
Symbiotic teaser: https://vimeo.com/887303461

  • Citizen and Policy Engagement:

Reflecting on the various societal implications of the speculative scenarios, gathering diverse perspectives and insights from EU citizens and policymakers. This phase involved a series of eight workshops, conducted between late November and early December 2023.

  • Sharing with the wider public:

Presenting on dedicated website futuresgarden.eu the project journey and outcomes, so that audiences from all around Europe and the world can engage with this inspiring work

The final report of the project showcases the work carried out in Futures Garden, describing each step and associated outcomes.


Futures Garden initiated by the EU Policy Lab
Commissioned by the DG for Research & Innovation through the Foresight on Demand framework contract
Supported by the European Commission

Austrian Institute of Technology
Fraunhofer ISI
Institutul de Prospectiva (Lead of pilot project)

Dealing with future selves & Extending human perception to new scales – join the online workshop

When foresight meets speculative design, the result is not only cinematic and poetic, but also more tangible and potent in the way it paints potential futures. Project Futures Garden is warmly inviting you to engage with two fictional artifacts that showcase thought provoking future scenarios regarding “Dealing with future selves” and “Extending human perception to new scales”.

Join us for an immersive and interactive experience!

Registration link: https://futures-garden-human-perception-identity.eventbrite.de

Date and time: Dec 7th 2023, 14:00 – 16:30 CET

The Artifacts:


The film Inwards invites us to explore new practices and technologies that enhance self-reflection and sharing of emotions, thus helping shape our choices in life and nurture a renewed sense of togetherness.

>> Watch the teaser: https://vimeo.com/887304151


The film Symbiotic invites us to explore new ways of inhabiting the perception of other intelligent beings, to embody their experience, their sensory world, their “umwelt” – what they “feel” and how they “think”.

>> Watch the teaser: https://vimeo.com/887303461

Stories, including those about potential futures, can bind and bond us in communion. They renew us, because when we imagine the future we invariably transform our present, our current thoughts and emotions. Give yourself this treat on Thursday, December 7th 2023.

Who Should Attend?

  • EU citizens interested in reflecting on and discussing future fictional artifacts, thus fostering new ideas and attitudes that may reshape their present lives and their future
  • Policymakers looking for fresh perspectives derived from future scenarios
  • Futurists, designers, and behavioral scientists exploring the power of citizen engagement in molding future imaginaries