Critical Design as a means for change

As we progress with this class, and we read more papers regarding critical design, I find myself reverting back to a issue we spoke about early on: are we able to over-analyze design, leading to an entire line of thinking around it’s discussion due to the fact we do not have to focus on the present.  As students, academics, etc. we’re free to have these conversations about how design may be critical of itself since the grand majority of us do not have to worry about working 80 hour weeks to ensure we have heat in our homes or feed offspring (likely due to inflated student loans), walking down the street in the midst of a civil war, or any number of other real life worries we’re shielded from within the walls of CMU.  How can our conversations within class be implemented outside the walls of CMU, away from academia?  Between Tobias Revell’s online lecture and the proceedings of IASDR especially, the majority of examples they cite fall in to what we would consider a fine arts.  It makes me wonder if critical design, being so introspective itself, can lead to the creation of a design product/solution/etc. that has some sort of commercial viability.  Not necessarily in the sense of a creating massive revenues, more so as design that can exist outside of an art-gallery with more “real-world” implications and uses.  Can the ideals put forth by critical design be used to influence or enhance a broader group of individuals who will never enter an art gallery?

Or is that that not the purpose, and by trying to find some final product or object, or some sort of use case for critical design, am I completely missing the point?  Perhaps critical design’s focus on “Ideas rather than objects” can merely be one of many design philosophies, and not all need to have a focus on actual creation of objects.  By not having to focus on daily terrors present in others lives, does that give us the ability to focus on other “big picture” ideas, with critical design being a method to do so?

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One thought on “Critical Design as a means for change

  1. I’m curious to know how you feel about the system of education. I personally feel that are some constraints all educational institutes have to face based on what they’re asking their students to learn. Of course, as applicants we are asking and choosing to be subject to a certain teaching style and if we find that, that is not fulfilling enough we can choose to either switch institutions or view some of the educational methods with a grain of salt. As academics, at a renowned school, we are being taught to think within our field. We are expected to have the curiosity and passion to want to discover the present in order to utilize our skills to alter the future. If we don’t spend time investing in our ability to act how can we act? I don’t find it morally degrading to be aware of the present and focus on our trade, so that when it’s our turn to focus on the present we have all the tools to do so.

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