robertogreco + designcriticism   15

Rough Sketch for a Video Essay as Design Criticism—Jarrett Fuller
"The video, or film, essay gained popularity in the 1950s and 60s that trades typical narrative plots for themes and investigations. Drawing inspiration from Orson Welles, Charles and Ray Eames, and film critics working today, I how the video essay can be used to further design criticism online and bring critical writing about design to different audiences."
essays  videoessays  2016  jarrettfuller  film  eames  charleseames  rayeames  design  designcriticism  visual  orsonwelles  everyframeapainting  mattzoller  tonyzhou  fisforfake  filmcriticism  criticalwriting  criticism  srg 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Message is Medium Rare
[via: https://eyeondesign.aiga.org/the-seriously-lighter-side-of-design-criticism-3-sites-that-actually-make-it-a-pleasure-to-read/

"While Brade delivers critique with satire, Christopher Simmons (a member of AIGA’s national board) uses burgers instead. The San Francisco designer and his colleague Nathan Sharp at design office MINE™ started reviewing burgers two years ago as a way of dishing out criticism on advertising and design. What started as critiques of the burgers they ate for lunch turned into the renowned blog, The Message Is Medium Rare. Each post starts with a mouth-watering shot of a burger, followed by Simmons’ food review and a related takeaway on advertising and design.

After eating a pricey burger, for example, he might muse on how creatives should price their services. Encountering a burger restaurant that offers tomatoes as an option only when they’re of good enough quality reminds Simmons of an award-winning annual report design that almost came undone because of low-quality pictures. All in all, Simmons shows how “there is no creative problem that can’t be solved by eating a hamburger.”

In an interview with venture capitalists The Designer Fund last year, he said “I’m always interested in the essence of things—about their true nature. If a burger is on an English muffin instead of a regular bun, is it still a burger? What if it’s pork belly instead of ground beef? The more I thought about it, the more I found parallels to design and creativity in general.”"]
design  designcriticism  criticism  christophersimmons 
february 2016 by robertogreco
R / D [Reading Design]
[via: https://eyeondesign.aiga.org/the-seriously-lighter-side-of-design-criticism-3-sites-that-actually-make-it-a-pleasure-to-read/

"In an interview with venture capitalists The Designer Fund last year, he said “I’m always interested in the essence of things—about their true nature. If a burger is on an English muffin instead of a regular bun, is it still a burger? What if it’s pork belly instead of ground beef? The more I thought about it, the more I found parallels to design and creativity in general.”

The literary approach that Brade and Simmons have taken to critiquing design may be fresh, but it’s not entirely new. Reading Design is a online archive of critical writings about design started in 2015 by the Financial Times’ architecture and design critic, Edwin Heathcote, and he’s uncovered several surprising pieces. Alongside well-known writings, such as industrial designer Dieter Rams’ manifesto on good design, you can also read Oscar Wilde’s thoughts on house decoration and Edgar Allan Poe’s philosophy on furniture.

Reflecting on finding philosopher Thorstein Veblen’s chapter “Conspicuous Consumption” in the archive, publisher Tim Abrahams wrote on Medium that Reading Design “has shown how diverse in origin the texts which constitute important, well-written design writing is.” Some have argued that Veblen’s proposal that design generated its own field of knowledge amongst the leisure class form a founding principle of design theory.

If there’s one thing that these websites teach us it’s that opportunities to think critically about design are all around us—we just need to look hard, and maybe even start writing some of our own."]
design  designcriticism  criticism  readingdesign  edwinheathcote  history 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Passable Designer – Breathtakingly honest coverage of the world's least self-absorbed industry
[via: https://eyeondesign.aiga.org/the-seriously-lighter-side-of-design-criticism-3-sites-that-actually-make-it-a-pleasure-to-read/

"Imagine The Onion on design. The Passable Designer is a satirical news site that offers “breathtakingly honest coverage of the world’s least self-absorbed industry”. London-based product designer Zander Brade began the site in October 2015 when he got tired of his daily life as a designer.

“I was far more interested in writing prose or singing songs with my guitar, which still remains the case because that’s really cool, but Passable became a healthy vessel for projecting my professional disdain—an incestuous, slithering marriage of my interests in design and literature, a love story for the ages,” he said in an e-mail interview.

From a report on how boring a group of designers’ conversation about Comic Sans is to another piece on an incredibly talented female designer being turned down for a job because of “some reason that’s not obvious at all,” Brade delivers some serious critique that hits home after you finish laughing at how ridiculously true the situation is.

Contrary to his fears that readers will be offended (he says he prefers to be punched in the face rather than sued), he says people actually like what he’s written. “I fear it could all be a grand (though rather depressing) prank, and I’ll leave my apartment one day to hundreds of designers in button-downs and overpriced jeans laughing at me for using the wrong grid system on the site,” he says."]
design  satire  criticism  designcriticism  humor  zanderbrade 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Eugenic Design | Christina Cogdell
"Winner of the 2006 Edelstein Prize from the Society for the History of Technology

"This is history that is relevant."—Design Issues

"Engaging, thoughtfully researched, and well written."—Journal of Social History

"Cogdell does much to advance our understanding of an anomalous 1930s aesthetic that has befuddled several generations of the best design historians. Her thesis is provocative, her writing is well paced, and her argument is convincing."—Journal of American History

"An ambitious attempt to link the professionalization of industrial design with the popular eugenics movement of the 1930s. . . . A bold and truly original thesis."—Technology and Culture

"This highly original, well written, carefully crafted, and vigorously argued volume is a notable addition to American intellectual and cultural history."—Enterprise and Society

"A significant contribution to the field of cultural history broadly defined. Cogdell's argument is compelling, and the evidence makes a strong case for linking an important modernist artistic movement with an important—and nefarious—scientific doctrine. This book will be widely read and discussed."—Robert W. Rydell, author of World of Fairs: The Century-of-Progress Expositions

"Christina Cogdell provocatively locates the ideology of streamlining in the popular eugenics movement of the 1930s. Tracing complex connections between personal philosophies of industrial designers and the visual rhetoric of their public design work, her cultural reading of design situates it dramatically at the intersection of science, technology, and popular culture. This book could well revolutionize the field of design history."—Jeffrey Meikle, author of Twentieth-Century Limited: Industrial Design in America, 1925-1939

In 1939, Vogue magazine invited commercial designer Raymond Loewy and eight of his contemporaries—including Walter Dorwin Teague, Egmont Arens, and Henry Dreyfuss—to design a dress for the "Woman of the Future" as part of its special issue promoting the New York World's Fair and its theme, "The World of Tomorrow." While focusing primarily on her clothing and accessories, many commented as well on the future woman's physique, predicting that her body and mind would be perfected through the implementation of eugenics. Industrial designers' fascination with eugenics—especially that of Norman Bel Geddes—began during the previous decade, and its principles permeated their theories of the modern design style known as "streamlining."

In Eugenic Design, Christina Cogdell charts new territory in the history of industrial design, popular science, and American culture in the 1930s by uncovering the links between streamline design and eugenics, the pseudoscientific belief that the best human traits could—and should—be cultivated through selective breeding. Streamline designers approached products the same way eugenicists approached bodies. Both considered themselves to be reformers advancing evolutionary progress through increased efficiency, hygiene and the creation of a utopian "ideal type." Cogdell reconsiders the popular streamline style in U.S. industrial design and proposes that in theory, rhetoric, and context the style served as a material embodiment of eugenic ideology.

With careful analysis and abundant illustrations, Eugenic Design is an ambitious reinterpretation of one of America's most significant and popular design forms, ultimately grappling with the question of how ideology influences design.

Christina Cogdell is Associate Professor at the University of California, Davis, where she teaches art, design, and cultural history."

[via: https://twitter.com/camerontw/status/621707666642087936 ]
books  design  history  designhistory  streamlined  normanbelgeddes  raymondloewy  christinacogdell  1930s  ideology  eugenics  industrialdesign  walterdorwinteague  egmontarens  henrydreyfussefficiency  technology  hygiene  gender  designcriticism 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Prototyping Risks when Design is Disappearing
"Our current unsustainability, especially when understood in terms of materials intensity, is in large part a result of design— whether imposed by modernist design experts or tempered by user- or even human-centered design research. Generative design is not especially culpable—at its best it tries to access what might finally be truly needed by its participants rather than just-another creative-yet-still-feasible idea. However, generative design research’s materials-based techniques do tend to encourage creative innovation mostly with respect to more thing-based solutions to latent concerns (rather than leading to service systems for instance, or structural dissolving of those concerns, such as no-build options, value- or lifestyle shifts, etc).

A second thing to note is that our unsustainability is a massive problem, of a size that demands truly radical responses. It is as if there is a kind of problem beyond wicked: in addition to being complex (a large number of interdependent variables) and wicked (because some of those variables are people, who act in not always fully rational ways and change their minds), sustainability is also just a big problem—solutions will require nation-sized infrastructure rebuilding (fuel switching, city renovation and even relocation) and similarly nation-sized notion re-conceptualizations (new ideas about freedom and autonomy, cost and responsibility, etc). Can we get this level of “Big and New” from processes like generative design research?"



"What is dominant in commercial design at the moment are methods that do nevertheless have proactionary elements, by which I mean a deliberate ignoring of imagining future consequential risks. I am referring here to, for example, Agile and Lean product development. These are distinct forms of design management and each a broad church, but consistent across them is a commitment to accelerated iteration of products released to live markets. Design is driven by real-time feedback on how “Minimum Viable Products” (MVP) are being used. The rationale is that many high consequence risks, and opportunities, are unanticipatable. Rather than imagine or sense what these “blackswans” might be, designers should instead focus on being able to respond immediately to what emerges. These Lean Agile philosophies eschew the grand visioning aspects of proactionary advocates, 
but are sympathetic with the downplaying of risk anticipation. As Joi Ito, head of MediaLab at MIT is fond of saying (though I am not sure of his evidence for this claim), “the cost of assessing risk is 
now often greater than the cost of failing” [7].

If Lean Agile, etc, aim at accessing the realizably innovative, the other end of the design dialectic might be Maker culture. These neo-tinkerers also pursue multiple iterations in order to discover serendipitously new uses for existing combinations of technologies, software and/or materials. There is a similar antivisioning driving these hackathons, and in all the rapid building there is also no anticipation of consequential risk.

In either case, the approaches deploy what could be called a “generalized prototyping.” Lean Agile beta-releases and hacked systems are more than prototypes; they are live products being used by people who are not explicitly structured "



"Transition Design aims to promote staged change, not forever changing.

1. A VISION FOR THE TRANSITION to a more sustainable society is needed. This calls for the reconception of entire lifestyles in which communities are in symbiotic relationship with the environment. Lifestyles are place-based yet global in their exchange of technology, information and culture.

2. The vision of the transition to a sustainable society will require new knowledge about natural, social, and “designed” systems. This new knowledge will, in turn, evolve the vision.

3. Ideas, theories and methodologies from many varied fields and disciplines inform a deep understanding of the DYNAMICS OF CHANGE in the natural and social worlds.

4. New theories of change will reshape designers’ temperaments, mindsets and postures. And, these “new ways of being” in the world will motivate the search for new, more relevant knowledge.

5. Living in and through traditional times requires a MINDSET AND POSTURE OF OPENNESS, mindfulness, a willing-ness to collaborate, and “optimistic grumpiness.”

6. Changes in mindset, posture and temperament will give rise to new ways of designing. As new design approaches evolve, designers’ temperaments and postures will continue to change.

7. The transition to a sustainable society will require new ways of designing that are informed by a vision, a deep understanding of the dynamics of change and a new mindset and posture.

8. New ways of designing will help realize the vision but will also change/evolve it. As the vision evolves, new ways of designing will continue to be developed."
camerontonkinwise  2015  design  sustainability  materials  prototyping  via:anne  openness  mindfulness  collaboration  optimism  criticism  change  technology  culture  makers  makermovement  agiledesign  iteration  vision  foresight  modernism  neomodernism  consequences  systemthinking  criticaldesign  designcriticism 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Critical Design Critical Futures - Critical design and the critical social sciences: or why we need to engagem multiple, speculative critical design futures in a post-political and post-utopian era
"We, anxious citizens of the affluent global North have some rather conflicted attitudes to futuring. In the broad realm of culture, "futures" have never been more popular. In the realm of politics, it is widely believed that those who engage in utopian speculations, are "out to lunch or out to kill[1].""



"Thoughtful reflections on widening inequality, class struggle, climate crisis, human-animal-machine relations, trans-humanism, the future of sexuality, surveillance and militarism can all be found in all manner of places. Consider Ronald Moore's Battlestar Galactica, the sci-fi novels of Ursula LeGuin, the Mars trilogy of Kim Stanley Robinson, films such as District 9, Gattica, Elysium or Snowpiercer, the graphic novels of Alan Moore or Hayao Miyazaki's stunning retro-futurist animations. All these currents – and many others – have used futures as a narrative backdrop to open up debate about worlds we might wish to inhabit or avoid.

In the "real world" of contemporary politics, no such breadth of discussion can be tolerated.

"Futures" once played a very significant role in Western political discourse. Western political theory: from Plato onwards can reasonably be read as an argument about optimal forms of institutional configuring.

For much of the twentieth century, different capitalisms confronted different vision of communism, socialism, anarchism, feminism, black liberation, fascism. Rich discussions equally took place as to the possible merits of blended systems: from the mixed economy and the welfare state to "market socialism", mutualism to populism, associationalism to corporatism. Since the end of the Cold War, it would be hardly controversial to observe that the range of debate about political futures that can occur in liberal democracies has dramatically narrowed.

Of course, it would be quite wrong to believe that utopianism has gone away in the contemporary United States. Pax Americana, The Rapture, or a vision of the good life spent pursuing private utopias centered around the consumption-travel-hedonism nexus celebrated by "reality TV" is all alive and well."



"Design is important for thinking about futures simply because it is one of the few remaining spaces in the academy that is completely untroubled by its devotion to futures. Prototyping, prefiguring, speculative thinking, doing things differently, failing… and then starting all over again are all core component of design education. This is perhaps why Jan Michl observed that a kind of dream of functional perfectionism [4] has haunted all matter of design practice and design manifestos in the twentieth century."



""Utopian thought is the only way of speculating concretely about a projective connection between architecture and politics. To design utopias is to enter the laboratory of politics and space, to conduct experiments in their reciprocity. This laboratory – unlike the city itself – is a place in which variables can be selectively and freely controlled. At the point of application of the concrete, utopia ceases to exist". [8]

Moreover, if we think of the utopian imaginary as disposition, as opposed to the blueprint, we might well get a little further in our speculations. Sorkin makes a plausible case for the centrality of a utopian, ecological and political architecture of the future as a kind of materialized political ecology. His intervention can also remind us that hostility to design utopianism or any discussion of embarking on "big moves" in urban planning, public housing, alternative energy provision and the like, can itself function as a kind of "anti-politics". It can merely re-enforce the status quo, ensuring that nothing of substance is ever discussed in the political arena."



"Whilst Wright never actually uses the word design to describe what he is up to in his writings, his demand for concrete programmatic thinking resonates with John Dryzek's call for a critical political science concerned with producing and evaluating discursive institutional designs.

Further points of convergence between design and the critical social sciences open up when we recognize that design is not reducible to the activities of professional designers. As thinkers from Herbert Simon, to Colin Ward have argued, if we see design as a much more generalizable human capacity to act in the world, prefigure and then materialize, the reach and potential of future orientated forms of social design for material politics can be read in much more interesting and expansive ways.

The writings of Colin Ward and Delores Hayden can be fruitfully engaged with here for the manner in which both of these critical figures have drawn productive links between design histories of vernacular architectures and the social histories of self built housing, infrastructure and leisure facilities. Both demonstrate that there is nothing particularly new about the current interest in making, hacking or sharing. There are many "hidden histories" of working men and women embarking on forms of self-management, building co-operative enterprises and networks of mutual aid. In doing so they have turned themselves into designers of their own workplaces, communities and lives [12]. Such experiments in what we might call "worker centred design" continue to resonate. Attempts by trade unionists to define new modes of ownership with socially useful production (as represented by the Lucas plan), and the recent spate of factory takeovers in Argentina, all indicate that workers can be designers[13].

All manner of interesting potential convergences between critical design, futurism and social critique can additionally be found in the many experimental forms that contemporary urban-ecological activism has given rise to. Consider experiments in urban food growing, forms of tactical or pop-up urbanism, guerrilla gardening and open streets, attempts to experiment in solidarity economies, experiments with urban retrofitting or distributed energy systems or experiments with part finished public housing (that can be customized by their residents). All these currents have the potential to draw design activism and design-oriented social movements into direct engagement with critical theory, political economy and the critical social sciences."
damianwhite  2015  design  speculativedesign  speculativefiction  designfiction  futures  future  futurism  socialsciences  colinward  deloreshayden  herbertsimon  criticaldesign  designcriticism  kimstanleyrobinson  ursulaleguin  hayaomiyazaki  achigram  ronherron  utopia  utopianism  capitalism  communism  socialism  anarchism  feminism  sociology  politics  policy  maxweber  emiledurkheim  patrickgeddes  designfuturism  anthonydunne  fionaraby  dunne&raby  tonyfry  erikolinwright 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Curious Cargo 3: Solving Problems with Problem Setting
"Designs are judged in a context. The full context is that we live on a planet beset by countless injustices and wicked problems. Existence is a yawning abyss that devours all meaning and everyone dies alone. But since contemplating that for more than a few moments can cause complete paralysis, most people section off the dark crystal of the world into manageable shards and consider only a few facets at a time.

When it comes to presenting a new idea, the stage you set has an enormous influence on how people respond. Our work is judged by how well it achieves what we say it set out to do. And so the knife maker is judged on the quality of their knife, while the water cleaner is judged on the impossible problem of poverty. If the knife maker had started out talking about poverty, they too would be judged on the utter failure of a knife to address the growing gap between the rich and poor.

There is a trick here. You can change your destination after the fact. You can change your problem as many times as you like, right up until the moment you go public. We know this is possible because after a new design has achieved success, a common “behind the scenes” story designers tell is how they first set out to do X but in their exploration they realized Y. Apple set out to make a tablet, but then decided they should use the tech to first make a phone, and Steve Jobs told this story only after both had been launched. Good design stories may be told linearly but they are rarely composed that way.

In crits, it often feels unfair to go after a student’s set problem. For one thing, they are working under extremely tight constraints. For another, they tend to be honest to a fault about their starting point. If you responded to every presentation with “but what does this do about the situation in America’s prisons?” you’d come across as aggressively rude. Yes, I am aware that this new kind of notecard will do nothing to end the drone strikes in Yemen. No, this chair does not address climate change. We had three weeks and no budget. Fuck off.

In the world, going after the set problem is a vital part of design criticism. When Volvo releases paint to make bicyclists easier to see, it is right and good to rant about the merchants of death machines putting the blame on their victims. When Apple speaks of devices for a better life and a better world, it is right and good to ask about the conditions under which they are made. Good design criticism works to expand the horizons of public discussion, to bring to light elements that are glossed over or forgotten.

Note the power of context setting: Apple bears the brunt of criticism for labour practices at Foxconn even though Sony, Microsoft, Amazon, Nintendo, and many others use the same supplier. I suspect this is partially because Apple in your headline = many clicks and partially because Apple devotes so much marketing time to a story about how their things are made. All car manufacturers are selling death machines, but Volvo gets the rant because they brought up bike safety while the rest of the companies serenely ignore the issue.

And none of them are addressing the situation in America’s prisons.

This difficulty shows up everywhere. In social justice contexts, the line between expanding and derailing the discussion is tricky to draw. In politics, we have the Overton window to name the range of ideas which are acceptably debatable and there is plenty of fighting to be done about the shape and size of the window. In journalism, there are the spheres of consensus, controversy and deviance and the reality distorting tendency of the press to report on neither consensus nor deviance. In design, MAYA returns. There is most advanced, yet acceptable design and there is most advanced, yet acceptable criticism.

Problem setting matters because it influences not only what gets designed but how we talk about what gets designed, and that influences what gets designed next. Sooner or later, some of those chronically unconsidered facets are going to force their way on stage whether we want them or not."
timmaly  2015  crits  design  designschool  artschool  context  overtonwindow  marketing  apple  designcriticism  criticism  raymoundloewy  critique  problemfinding  problemdefinition  volvo  judgement  industrialdesign  architecture  productdesign  journalism  politics  consensus  controversy  deviance  derailing  artschools 
april 2015 by robertogreco
studio : lab : workshop | Abler.
"I’ve been saying for some years now that my wish is to be as close to science-making as possible: that is, not merely teaching complementary art and design practices for young scientists in training, but to be in the formative stages of research and development much further upstream in the process. Asking collaboratively: What research questions are worthy questions? What populations and individuals hold stakes in these questions? Are there important queries that are forgotten? Could parallel questions be pursued in tandem—some quantitative, others qualitative? And how do we engage multiple publics in high-stakes research?"

To put it another way: What happens when extra-disciplinary inquiry lives alongside traditional forms of research—especially when those traditional forms occupy the disciplinarily privileged status of the STEM fields? Inviting both generalist and specialist approaches starts to hint at what a “both-and” disposition could look like. As here in David Gray’s formulation of specialists and generalists:

[image]

Breadth, he says, is the characteristic of the generalist, and depth the characteristic of the specialist. A thriving academic research program surely needs both: but not just in the forms of symposia, scholarly ethics, or data visualization to (once more) “complement” or even complicate the science. It’s the last note of Gray’s that I’m particularly paying attention to, because it’s what good critical design and hybrid arts practices often do best: They act as boundary objects.

Gray says those objects can be “documents, models, maps, vocabulary, or even physical environments” that mark these intersections of broad and deep ideas. Well, I’d say: especially physical environments and phenomena. At the scale of products or screens or architectural spaces, these objects can act as powerful mediators and conduits for ideas. They can become modes of discourse, opportunities for public debate, sites of disciplinary flows.

It’s these kinds of objects that I’d like to be a feature of the studio/lab/workshop I’ll bring to Olin: An ongoing pursuit of ideas-in-things that live at all the various points along a continuum between practical use, on the one hand, and symbolic or expressive power on the other. Two poles in the manner still most accessibly captured by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby—both of which I’d like to be present.

And what does this mean for the habits of mind we cultivate? I return often to the ideas of Jack Miles in this essay—also about generalists and specialists, with a key useful heuristic: that specialists tend to embody the disposition of farmers, while generalists tend to embody the virtues of hunters. Both are necessary, and both need each other. The careful tending to a field whose needs are more or less known, protected, and nurtured further, on the one hand. And the more landscape-crossing, round-the-next-bend pursuit of the not yet known and its promised nourishment, on the other.

I want students to try out and value both operative modes, no matter where their own career paths take them. Knowing that others are also asking valuable questions in different disciplinary ways ideally breeds humility: a sense that what one has to offer could be enriched when conjoined in conversation with others whose expertise may not be immediately legible from within a silo.

And not just humility: I want students in engineering to know that their practices can be both private and public, that their status as citizens can be catalyzed through making things. Things that may be practical, performative, or both.

In practical terms, we’ll be looking at labs like Tom Bieling’s Design Abilities group in Berlin, Ryerson’s EDGE Lab, the Age and Ability Lab at RCA, and the newly-formed Ability Lab at NYU Poly. But we’ll also be looking methodologically at Kate Hartman’s Social Body Lab at OCAD, at the CREATE group at Carnegie Mellon, and of course Natalie Jeremijenko’s Environmental Health Clinic.

Possible paths to pursue: A “design for one” stream of prosthetic devices made for one user’s self-identified wish or need. An ongoing partnership with any of a number of schools or clinics in the Boston area where provisional and low-tech assistive devices could make education more responsive to children’s up-to-the-minute developmental needs. Short-term residencies and workshops with critical engineers and artists working with technology and public life. Public, investigative performances and installations that address issues of ability, dependence, and the body in the built environment.

These things will take time! I can’t wait to begin."
sarahendren  2014  olincollege  design  specialization  specialists  generalists  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  engineering  stem  davidgray  research  academia  extra-disciplinary  ability  dependence  audiencesofone  jackmiles  anthonydunne  fionaraby  dunne&raby  ablerism  events  nataliejeremijenko  tombieling  kateharman  prosthetics  abilities  disability  designcriticism  criticaldesign  speculativedesign  humility  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  accessibility  assistivetechnology  discourse  conversation  openstudioproject  lcproject  howwelearn  howweteach  disabilities 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Section Cut | Alexandra Lange
"Join Dan and Kyle as they sit with Section Cut’s fifth GIANT – Alexandra Lange – at the Loeb House in Cambridge, MA. We find Alexandra at the tail end of her Loeb Fellowship, amidst a pivotal point in her career. During the conversation, she shares some best practices and sheds perspective on her journey to becoming an influential architectural critic, journalist, and social media maven with over 10.4k Twitter followers to date.
Though not explicitly a designer, Lange’s work takes a critical eye to the built environment, design culture, and our fields’ positions relative to contemporary societal concerns. This work is executed with such care and precision that she is often invited to speak at prestigious institutions and write for some of the most respected publications in the world. And, even with such accolades as these, Alexandra manages to be unpretentious, approachable, and generous enough to sit down and talk with the likes of us.

Take a listen above to see what we mean, and make sure to explore some of Alexandra’s top resources below. Consider her challenge posed to Team Section Cut – GAME ON!"
alexandralange  2014  designcriticism  design  architecture  interviews  via:ablerism 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Design Fiction as Pedagogic Practice — What I Learned Building… — Medium
"Asking students to imagine a world and design artefacts to communicate a set of beliefs or practices though the utilisation of fiction has been an essential part of the BA Design curriculum for over a decade. But the thing I’m most surprised by is how little has been written about the role of fiction and speculation as part of design education. I can understand how DF can have value in a research context in order to provoke and convince an audience of a possibility space; a mode of questioning and coercion. I can also see its role in technology consultancy, as the construction of narratives, where products, interactions, people and politics open up new markets and directions for a client. But I think people have missed its most productive position; that of DF as a pedagogic practice.

I’m fully located in the ‘all design is fiction’ camp, so I’m not a big fan of nomenclature and niche land grabs. Design as a practice never exists in the here and now. Whether a week, month, year or decade away, designers produce propositions for a world that is yet to exist. Every decision we make is for a world and set of conditions that are yet to be, we are a contingent practice that operates at the boundaries of reality. What’s different is the temporality, possibility and practicality of the fictions that we write."
pedagogy  designfiction  teaching  learning  education  mattward  temporality  imagination  speculation  design  fiction  future  futures  designresearch  designcriticism  darkmatter  designeducation  reality  prototyping  ideology  behavior  responsibility  consequences  possibility  making  thinking  experimentation  tension  fear  love  loss  ideation  storytelling  narrative  howwelearn  howweteach  2013 
july 2013 by robertogreco
5 Things About Ubiquitous Computing That Make Me Nervous | Design Culture Lab
"[I]t is difficult to develop a critical perspective whilst in school that includes the possibility of *not* designing something, simply because we force them to make things."

"[O]ur imaginations are not as strong when we come to the task of redesigning design itself."

"to understand … *process* as a form of social, cultural, political, ethical, etc. *agency*"

***

"1. Technological determinism & defeatism

Or, the cultural belief that technological development and progress is inevitable, and we have to adapt.

2. Technological solutionism

Or, the cultural belief that technology is the best solution to life’s problems.

3. Quantification imperatives

Or, the cultural belief that everything can and should be measured, and that everyday life would be better if all our decisions were based on these data.

4. Connection & sharing imperatives

Or, the cultural belief that everyday life would be better if more information was transmissible and accessible to people.

5. Convenience & efficiency imperatives

Or, the cultural belief that people would be better off if there were more technologies to make daily life more convenient, and common tasks more efficient."

"Like many students facing a critique of their practice, they struggled to understand how they could proceed. Some still focussed on how to provide the right solutions to the right problems (I asked who should get to decide what is right); others wanted to know how they could predict the likelihood of something bad happening (I pointed back to #3); and a few wanted ethical guidelines (I wondered if this fell under #2, or if I needed to add a #6, Prescriptive imperatives). Taking a more pedagogical perspective, a couple of students recognised that it is difficult to develop a critical perspective whilst in school that includes the possibility of not designing something, simply because we force them to make things."

"A few students even accused me of being defeatist and anti-technology in my critique, but I responded that I never said that ubicomp shouldn’t be designed, and neither did I say that we couldn’t create technologies in more critical, or interrogative ways. A serious problem, I think, is that our imaginations are not as strong when we come to the task of redesigning design itself. Design still suffers, for example, from having contradictory interests in sustainability and planned obsolescence, and still responds to the perils of mass production through the design of small-run luxury goods. In these, and other cases, one problem is simply substituted for another–and the solutionist imperative encourages us to respond by designing and producing more and more in turn.

In my class this term we’re using Anne Balsamo’s Designing Culture as a starting point for identifying when, where and how designers make decisions. For all our focus on teaching students to design digital and physical products, I don’t think we’re doing a good enough job of getting them to understand their process as a form of social, cultural, political, ethical, etc. agency. There is still, I think, too much emphasis on design process as some sort of mythical, mystical, essentially ineffable, act of creation.

This problem, I think, is further compounded in more critical approaches, where design effectively begins and ends with the creative act."



"By articulating “things that make me nervous” instead of talking about “things that are bad,” I had hoped to help students realise that critique is also not a final act. I wanted them to keep moving, to keep acting–but with greater awareness, responsibility and accountability. Critique shouldn’t stop us from acting or, in my opinion, tell us how to act. Critical awareness should help us situate ourselves, make active decisions to do some things and not others, and accept the consequences of these actions for ourselves and others."

***

[See also:

"And indeed true “interrogative” works, in my estimation, are best when they suspend questions indefinitely. They press and hold two or more opposing functions or symbolic/expressive gestures together at once, without resolve."

"resisting the seduction of “solutions” in design where “problems” become invisible"

http://hastac.org/forums/disability-moving-beyond-access-academy

and

"Sometimes *not* building is the right answer, but it is not one that architects are trained to recommend."

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.06/koolhaas_pr.html ]
annegalloway  criticalthinking  design  making  thinking  ubicomp  awareness  adesign  evgenymorozov  solutionism  technologicalsolutionism  2013  defeatism  determinism  quantification  measurement  data  everydaylife  efficiency  productivity  ethics  pedagogy  howwethink  howweteach  crticism  designcriticism  annebalsamo  decisionmaking  criticaldesign  remkoolhaas  sarahendren  inquiry  questions  questioning  systemsthinking  agency  cv  tcsnmy  products  technology  convenience  sharing  connections  culture  capitalism  teaching  learning  imagination  designeducation  education  unschooling  deschooling  canon  shrequest1 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Imagine Design Create
"…What’s holding design back?

…short answer…art schools…[where m]ost design programs are housed…art school teaching still follows a medieval model: Master & apprentice.

Studio courses are mostly about socialization— sharing & creating tacit knowledge through direct experience. Students learn by watching one another. Teachers rarely espouse principles. Learning proceeds from specific to specific. Knowledge remains tacit.

Practice is much the same as education. Over the course of a career, most designers learn to design better. But what they learn is highly idiosyncratic, dependent on their unique context. The knowledge designers gain usually retires with them.

Rarely do designers distill rules from experience, codify new methods, test & improve them, & pass them on to others. Rarely do designers move from tacit to explicit. …

Design doesn’t have feedback loops that include funding, research, publishing, tenure, and teaching, These feedback loops ensure quality. Without them…"
criticaleducation  mentorships  masters  apprenticeships  knowledge  miltonglaser  nicholasnegroponte  graphicdesign  learning  teaching  experience  designcriticism  criticism  peerreview  2011  via:anne  hughdubberly  education  arteducation  artschools  design  artschool  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
School Days — Lined & Unlined
[Now here: https://linedandunlined.com/archive/unbuilding ]

Quotes highlighted by Allen on Reading.am:

"It is not simply the unexamined life here that is not worth living, but the unnarrated life — and far from a nostalgic examination, that narration is increasingly essential and increasingly likely to occur in real time."

"Instead of the dismantling and overtly critical strategy employed by postmodernism, the reflexively modern society seeks to examine and correct itself in order to keep placing itself continually back on track. The result is a heightened sense of self-awareness and self-preservation leading all the way back to the individual. "

"Whether overtly biographical or simply self-referential, design remains even today in the peculiar position of having its history and criticism written largely by and for its own practitioners."

[This is a link-rich article that points to many other articles worth reading.]

[Manifesta 6's Notes for an Art School is available in PDF here: http://a.nnotate.com/docs/2011-11-11/iVdeoOj9/NFAAS%20fire%20inside%20copy.pdf ]
designcriticism  altgdp  manifesta  via:litherland  via:tealtan  whitneyispprogram  mountainschoolofart  josephbeuys  freeinternationaluniversity  skowhegan  blackmountaincollege  bauhaus  manifesta6  self-involved  art  criticalautonomy  andrewblauvelt  lorrainewild  wiggerbierma  karelmartens  graphicdesign  gunnarswanson  criticaldesign  speculativedesign  fionaraby  anthonydunne  helenwalters  brucenussbaum  dextersinister  raymondwilliams  antonvidokle  waltergropius  paulelliman  nowinproduction  designeducation  writing  education  criticism  2012  self-preservation  self-reference  unnarratedlife  examinedlife  unexaminedlife  self-awareness  design  robgiampietro  bmc  designfiction  dunne&raby  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco

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