Dunne & Raby’s designs for experimental kingdoms

We are somewhere in the near-distant future and England has been devolved into four self-contained countries where governance, economy and lifestyle are all subject to experimentation.

Communo nuclearist train
Communo nuclearist train

Dunne & Raby have forged their reputation by asking the big questions and in United Micro Kingdoms: A Design Fiction, a new exhibition at the Design Museum, they will look at the cultural and ethical impact of new and existing technologies and how these might alter the way we live.

This ‘live laboratory’ supposition allows Dunne & Raby to deconstruct and rebuild perceptions of how products and services are made and used, with a particular focus on reinterpreting transport systems in this case.

Anthony Dunne is professor and head of the design interactions programme at Royal College of Art and Fiona Raby is professor of Industrial Design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.

Together, using the potential power of design as their vehicle, they channel the ideas of industrial design, architecture, politics, science and sociology into their projects.

One of the Micro Kingdoms assumes the form of a nuclear train, which Raby says is ‘a moving landscape inhabited by communo nuclearists.’

Communo nuclearist train
Communo nuclearist train

The Train is comprised of 75 carriages, each measuring 40×20 m, straddling two sets of 3m wide tracks. It travels at four miles-per-hour and never stops.

Inhabitants live inside the ‘mountain carriages’, which contain the likes of labs, factories, hydroponic gardens, gyms, dorms, kitchens, nightclubs and everything else people need.

On the mountains are swimming pools, fish farms, and bookable huts for periods of isolation.

Raby says, ‘The environment surrounding the tracks, like a demilitarised zone is a sort of natural paradise, a wilderness to be enjoyed by nature-loving Communo-nuclearists from the safety of their train.’

Communo nuclearist train
Bioliberals’ bio car

United Micro Kingdoms: A Design Fiction runs from 1 May-25 August at The Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, SE1

Start the discussionStart the discussion
  • Post a comment

Latest articles

From the archives: Picture Post

As we head back into our archives, here’s a gem from March 1990. Jane Lewis looks at the creative ways design firms promoted their services through mail-outs.