Fixing problems early on

Focusing on the Bardzell piece, I struggled to understand the basis of the SS and WW experiments. While I get that these were meant to be commentaries on gender roles, I feel like the problems they had later on, after investing a lot of time and iteration into these projects, could have easily been solved with the simple question of: is this enough to illicit reaction? Perhaps from my standpoint, it seems easier to solve or more obvious, but maybe they removed critical design methods too far from conventional design methods. I would have to disagree that both the projects were not “aesthetically provocative enough.” I don’t think the problems stemmed from how these products looked, but rather the core meaning behind them. Regardless of if they made them more breast-like or phallic, the experiments still would not have resulted in a very strong reaction other than, “yeah, that looks like a penis.” I think that Dunne and Raby’s point of having the right amount of “strangeness” works quite well in parallel to Revell’s right amount of “normal.” What I wish I could see in the SS and WW were suggestions for somewhere in between.

Pedaling back, I found it interesting that this piece started out with almost a disclaimer about how critical design is hard to explain. Does it serve as a warning that, yes, these experiments did not go as expected, but we still had some sort of breakthrough, regardless how seemingly small they may have been? Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the four points of the difficulties of critical design, but it takes me back to several classes ago where we discussed why critical design needed a formula or method. Bardzell et. al. point out that critical theory is “anti-method,” so why do other authors try so hard to fit a square peg into a circular hole? I understand that this is sort of a way to wade through the murky waters, but maybe it is best to let things just be. It’s interesting how they point out how the difference design and critical design is that critical design focuses on the reaction or questioning and barely begins when “regular” design ends. Perhaps it’s my education here, but I’m still not sure of the validity of the separation of the two. Should not designers always be critically designing? While I try to understand the conclusions between the SS and WW experiments, I feel like, because of the large separation between design and critical design, common sense seemed to go out the window without anyone noticing.


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