Following the presentation of my chosen design agendas and interpretations of each, I was recommended a final one to consider: critical design alongside the book ‘Hertzian Tales’ by the king and queen of the agenda: Dunne & Raby. Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby are the pioneers of critical design having coined the term:
'Critical Design uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life. It is more of an attitude than anything else, a position rather than a method. There are many people doing this who have never heard of the term critical design and who have their own way of describing what they do. Naming it Critical Design is simply a useful way of making this activity more visible and subject to discussion and debate.' (Dunneandraby.co.uk, 2016)
The pair humbly remark they did not create critical design thinking but rather named it and gave the term some limelight. Many of us may find ourselves questioning the things we do, the actions we take, the decisions we make and how this plays a part in our life. We may not even realise we do this. Critical design, in some ways, could be subconscious and something we are so used to doing but never act upon. Most us adopt the ‘follow-the-leader’ societal norms and do not step out of our comfort zones or question who created those comfort zones and why we abide to them. I’m questioning now why we never question. It’s ques-ception.
What is it for? ‘Mainly to make us think. But also raising awareness, exposing assumptions, provoking action, sparking debate, even entertaining in an intellectual sort of way, like literature or film.’ (Dunneandraby.co.uk, 2016)
Although Hertzian tales is centred around the relationships we have electronic products, in the chapter 'Real Fiction' Dunne speaks and expresses critical design in way I think relates to my ideologies and thoughts for ecological design and the biomimicry of nature's life cycle. Dunne states we must 'contribute to the production of a habitable world' (Dunne, 2005) and that design needs to be 'transformed'. This reflects my belief in a design rethink for ultimate ecological and sustainable success. He continues on to say we 'must not just visualise a better world but arouse in the public the desire for one'. This statement is key. I have understood my focus is subjected around empathy for the user but also leaving an impact with them. The word 'arouse' can be defined in two different ways: one is that related to the word evoke, stimulating emotion with the user while the second referrers to awaking someone from a sleep. Metaphorically speaking, we need to be awoken from our blissful, unaware slumber and understand the urgent need for change in the world.
We can no longer live by 'following-the-leader' because the leader is just as misinformed as their followers but the danger is the preconception that we think the leader knows what they are doing. As Dunne says, we are need for 'a product intended to challenge preconceptions' that will raise awareness, expose assumptions, provoke action, and finally spark debate. Getting deja vu?
As I have mentioned before, it is difficult to design for change when we are unaware of what makes people stick to their instincts. We must consider 'more complicated and difficult aspects of our relationship to [insert product here] to be reflected in future designs' (Dunne, 2005). HT fills this gap with 'electrical objects' however I feel this mantra is suited for all aspects of design and especially ecological and environmentally-drive ones.
I speak about the importance of educating people on the impact of climate change in relation to the products we own and explain how this has created a state of dystopia. Could the implication of didactic product or concept open people's eyes to a more utopian world? Surely, anything is better than where we currently stand.
'Design is existential' (Dunne, 2005) meaning that it relies on our existence but will the tables turn and our existence rely totally on how we design?
Dunne, A. (2005). Hertzian tales. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp.83, 147-148.
Dunneandraby.co.uk. (2016). Dunne & Raby. [online] Available at: http://www.dunneandraby.co.uk/content/bydandr/13/0 [Accessed 10 Nov. 2016].
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