2013年1月7日 星期一

week 15. critical design

Critical design and critical theory: the challenge of designing for provocation


1. p288
   Designers' judgement vs. analysis & reasoning activity

Over the past two decades, there has been increasing interest in design in human-computer interaction. Of particular
concern is constructive design research [27], also known as
research through design [16, 18, 33, 35], where design activity in the form of constructing artifacts becomes a central
research activity. In this work, design experience in the
form of designers’ judgments is equally important to the
analysis and reasoning activities that are common to all
kinds of research.

   constructive design 可以從 “想像未來" 展開, 不一定要 fieldwork, theory...

Like other kinds of research, constructive 
design research may start from the result of fieldwork, theories of human behavior, or application of a particular design
approach, but often, it can start with just imagining future 
states, and in HCI, how technology can improve the current
state of human existence.

3. critical design 的定義, by Dunne:
  吸引 viewers 進入 the world of ideas 而非 objects.

producing conceptual electronic products that encourage
complex and meaningful reflection on inhabitation of a
ubiquitous, dematerializing, and intelligent environment: a
form of social research to integrate critical aesthetic experience with everyday life…. I hope in my approach I have
retained the popular appeal of industrial design while using
it to seduce the viewer into the world of ideas rather than
objects. Industrial design locates its object in a mental
space concerned with identity, desire, and fantasy and
shaped by media.... Again, I hope this remains intact but is
subverted to challenge the aesthetic values of both consumers and designers. (p. 147)

4. p. 289

In short, critical design
proposes an approach to provocation(挑釁), rather than design as
rearranging surface features according to the latest fashion
while obfuscating (使困惑) the norms and conventions inscribed in
the designs and their use.


A new
book on constructive design research details three different
approaches: Lab, Field, and Showroom [27].


In the  Field examples, design researchers
employ lightweight versions of social science methods to
understand the current state, and then use methods from
design practice to create new things that express a preferred

 Showroom, Koskinen et al.’s term for critical
design, is different. The description in the book talks about
the theoretical influences, but does provide a sketch of how
methods might be put together to complete a project.

6. In other words,
one might desire a description of critical design as an approach to account for both (a) products that generate dilemmas or confusions among users in such a way that users
are encouraged to expand their interpretative horizons or
rethink cultural norms; and (b) the sorts of design processes
that could lead to those kinds of products.

7.  p. 290

  4 種 整合 critical theory 和 design 的 困難:

(1) Critical theory offers little insight about how to make 

  CT: a verbal tradition,  new theories, critiques, and insights
  D: an embodied making tradition,  design materials

(2) Critical theory tends to be anti-method.

(3) Critical theory emphasizes the meanings and effects of cultural artifacts over their creation.
(4) Critical theory generally tends not to focus on the author of  a work as an individual creative agent

critical theory 不關心 intention (of author)

But if design can be defined as intentional change [30],
critical theory’s disinterest in intention becomes a limitation
of its applicability to design.

  我們已經習慣  不受限於 creators' intention

We, too, were trained to seek
to understand the effects of cultural artifacts without limiting our inquiry to what their creators intended. Likewise,
we can understand why Gaver, like Derrida before him,
rejects “method” as a description of his approach.

What we seek, then, is a middle ground between critical
design as an elitist mystery, like art itself, and critical design as a step-wise cookbook description of design practice.
We recognize that the subjective expertise of the designer is
a crucial factor that no method, approach, set of practices,
etc., can capture or simulate.

  先找出 挑釁的點

the most basic decisions in a critical design project is identifying which aspects of the present world we wish to provoke, a process that can be enriched through an engagement
with relevant critical theory literatures.

11.  2 cases of critical design

Significant Screwdriver (SS)

As  a starting point, it seemed to us that design could be used to  transgress rather then reinforce social norms.

Whispering Wall (WW)

Another place where we might transgress rather then reinforce social norms was in the space of a health club or gym.


Breakdowns in operationalizing critical theory in design
often occur because whereas theory is often descriptive,
providing frameworks or models that serve as organizing
constructs [17], design itself is actionable, creating prototypes that suggest preferred future states. As in any design
activity, in making the leap from descriptive to generative,
the designer must make judgments about how to proceed.


This breakdown exposes that
in critical design, the linkage between (verbally-based) theory and the embodied design practices of decision-making
and observations of use in deployment is problematic.
Overcoming this is not something that can be derived from
critical theory resources alone (i.e., in this case, feminist
theory only got us so far), due to the fact that design as critical resource  and  textual discourses about design  are different kinds of epistemological resources.

14. p.294

   輕微的  陌異化 是關鍵

Dunne and Raby write, “A slight strangeness is the key
too weird and they are instantly dismissed, not strange
enough and they’re absorbed into everyday reality…” [15,

輕微的  陌異化  可以考量跨越 conceptual, functional, material, aesthetic 等等層面.

Our experience suggests that achieving this “slight
strangeness” is anything but straightforward, as it plays out
across conceptual, functional, material, and aesthetic dimensions of design in complex ways. Often, designers rapidly generate and iterate on solutions as a way to reason
about a problem space; when the problem space itself is
transgression and provocation, some of our more familiar
strategies will undoubtedly come up short.

  how design students do vs. engineering ones:

As designers, we have considerable experience evaluating
sketches, directions, and prototypes in the context of design
briefs and situations—even ill-defined ones—both in the
studio and in the field.


Provocation can be socially uncomfortable, and subjects
may not expect to be provoked when consenting to participate in a study. Researchers need to be prepared for and be
ready to handle such discomfort.


Indeed, it was through conversations in which he was initiated as a peer researcher, rather than research subject, that
this participant gradually began to buy into it.

18. p. 295

Both of these patterns suggest that in a critical design study,
not only does the research destabilize the topics of inquiry,
but it also destabilizes the relationship between researchers
and research participants.


In short, design researchers deploying
critical designs need to be prepared for everything to be
challenged, negotiated, and subject to fundamental change.


Critical design as a discursive methodology

Critical Design 中, 連 framing 也是 unknown:

In traditional user research, the research objective is to establish user needs and requirements. What is unknown are
relevant behaviors, attitudes, and functional needs of a target population. In critical design research, the framing itself 
is part of the unknown.


We were not out to discover folk theories of gender in
gyms and homes; the critical designs were meant to transgress them and provoke discussion about that.

  重點不是收集使用者所說的話, 而是 協同思索與推思索與推論

didn’t just collect what they said but engaged with them
intellectually—the result was a practice of collaborative 
speculative reasoning grounded on a critical design that was
itself informed by a combination of cultural theories and
folk theories.

   3 lessons from critical designs:

(1) Provocativeness
(2) Deep relationship

When using critical design in the future, we will design the
prototypes and interactions with participants with the goal
of developing a deeper relationship. We allow for repeated
and rich encounters in order to explore how participants’
insights and behaviors change as they use the design to
probe the research team’s intentions

(3) Fluidity of research plan

..., it seems that critical design
might best use theory to sensitize designers and to inspire
the intention of the provocations, but that we cannot and
should not force that theory to delimit the trajectory of the
work once it has been placed into the world. We raise this
as a concern for others who may wish to use critical design
as a way of operationalizing a theoretical framework.