The theme for PRIMER is Emergent Pathways.

Emergent pathways are organic. They can extend their tendrils through time, forge connections between fields and disciplines, signal new approaches and offer provocative frameworks that expand our thinking about the possible.

Emergent pathways form from present actions, decisions and imaginings to suggest a potential-but-not-yet realized path forward. They allow us to encounter a familiar landscape anew, sparking fresh ideas and imaginings for a better world. As vehicles for speculating about the future, they act as suggestive hints and weak signals that can point us in unexpected directions, help us make unusual connections and ultimately open whole new territories of creation.

This is the environment we invite you to experience. It’s a journey we will create together.

About Speculative Design

Speculative Design investigates and imagines possible futures through the experiential use of designed artifacts and scenarios. By illuminating possibilities and the inherent choices they engender, speculative futurists help organizations, institutions and society share richer conversations about the futures they wish to create, the ones they want to avoid—and make better decisions about both.

This practice enables versatile thinking and serves as a creative frame to discover, explore and increase awareness, to craft right futures—to design and build for the well-­being of all life, human and otherwise.

SF Speculative Futures

San Francisco Speculative Futures is a meetup community that focuses on work and practice in the fields of speculative and critical design, design fiction, strategic foresightany approach for designing for the future. Established in 2015 by Phil Balagtas, a designer and researcher for GE, the group has already grown exponentially since it’s inception. SF Speculative Futures regularly hosts practitioners and educators from a variety of fields at monthly meetings, and delivers talks and workshops at conferences around the world.

Speculative Futures’ Latest Initiative: PRIMER 2017

People at our events always walk away hungry for more.

Participants are inspired by the projects we present and energized by the challenging issues we confront. We’ve observed great passion and interest for the field, particularly in the SF Bay Area, but also in almost every major city or region where we speak. People want to learn more about speculative and critical design, and to bring its approach, methodologies, tools and perspectives to their work, communities and careers. Established practitioners come eager to share their knowledge, learn from others in the field and hone their skills. There’s a clear desire to expand and deepen this work for the benefit of all our futures.


Phil Balagtas
Founder Speculative Futures

Phil has been a Visual and UX Designer since 2001 and has designed across a variety of devices and platforms within non-­profit, retail, advertising and enterprise software organizations. He holds a BA in Graphic Design, an MFA in Design from the California College of the Arts and is currently a Design Director for GE Aviation Digital Solutions. An educator and futurist, he organizes and leads design skill programs and is founder of SF Speculative Futures.

Susan Worthman
Associate Chair, DMBA

A member of the SF Speculative Futures meetup, Susan has extensive experience in business development, program development and management, fundraising and event management. Over the arc of her career, she has planned, managed and executed dozens of regional and national conferences, both single and multi-­city, with budgets ranging from $250k to over $3m, for non­profits, Fortune 500s, the Federal government and more, serving upwards of 2000 attendees from all over the world.

Matt Mayfield
Head of Operations & Creative Strategy, Design Futures.

A trained photographer and multimedia artist, Matt brings a wealth of experience direct from New Zealand. As the former organizer of UX New Zealand, and Community/Events Manager for Optimal Workshop, he leads all operations and strategy for both the Speculative Futures Meetup and the PRIMER conference.