Design Museum



United Micro Kingdoms (UMK): A Design Fiction

01 May 2013 – 26 August 2013

UmK presents perspectives on a fictional future for the United Kingdom, as imagined by designers and educators Dunne & Raby. The exhibition sees England devolved into four self-contained counties, each free to experiment with governance, economy and lifestyle. These 'live laboratories' interrogate the cultural and ethical impact of existing and new technologies and how they alter the way we live.

Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby use elements of industrial design, architecture, politics, science and sociology to provoke debate around the power and potential of design. UmK challenges assumptions about how products and services are made and used, through reinterpretations of the car and other transport systems.

The four micro kingdoms explored in the exhibition are:

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.

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.

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.

Bioliberals fully embrace biotechnology and the new values that this entails.Biology is at the centre of their world-view, leading to a radically different technological landscape to our own. 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 workshop.

Explore each of the super-shires on the UMK website.


Buy exhibition tickets in advance from Ticketweb (booking fee applies)

With thanks to Camira Fabrics and Abet Laminati

Exhibition available to tour. Visit the touring page for more information.

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