Design Fiction as a Convergence and Divergence Tool in the Design Thinking Process: Developing Smart Communication Service for Childcare

Eun Sun Park, Soyeon Kim, Hyunji Song, Dooyoung Kim, Ji Hyeong Seo, Yueyang He, Hyojin Lee, Hyun Kyung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background This study aims to provide a framework of design fiction as a participatory tool in the design thinking process and to investigate the possibilities of a service design methodology that actively engages multiple stakeholders. We adopted a new approach for developing a Smart Communication Service for Childcare (SCSC) that is rapidly gaining traction in South Korea's childcare facilities. Methods A multidisciplinary team of researchers with diverse backgrounds in visual design, product design, and child and family studies collaborated to identify issues and propose solutions. To address social, technological, and future issues, design fiction was incorporated into the double diamond model process as a generative practice. This served as a tool for converging fiction on problem definition and a divergent tool to comprehensively imagine a future with multiple possibilities. Results Developing a design for SCSC confirmed that design fiction elicits divergent and convergent functions at each stage. At the problem-defining stage, it is conceivable to foresee a preferred future that takes into account a broader range of diverse and particular possibilities than a process leading to a single solution. Finally, the proposed design fiction and prototype of service application were effective in imagining a desired communal future and elicited a holistic discourse among specialists in child and family studies, service developers, and designers. Conclusions The study successfully suggested design fiction as a convergent and divergence tool in the design thinking process for the development of SCSC. The design fiction approach contributed to creating a preferred collaborative future and shifted from focusing on “present solutions” to “future problems” by expanding the framework within the “discourse” stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-98
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Design Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Institute of Information & Communications Technology Planning & Evaluation (IITP) grant funded by the Korean government (MSIT) (No. 2021-0-00155, Context and Activity Analysis-based Solution for Safe Childcare).

Publisher Copyright:
© an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), which permits unrestricted educational and noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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