From Behind the Hallowed Walls of Academic Design

Critical design if you ask me, is one of the actually least critical forms of design out there. That is because it is safe. Extremely safe. Ludicrously safe in fact.
Critical design, like most criticism, is done largely within the safe and homogenised confines of galleries, specialist journals and academia. That means “the outside world” or “real world” as I like to call it, which I suppose the criticism is meant to somehow impact, is left out of the equation. So you can bandy about capitalism, post-industrialisation or whatever, but ultimately if you’re using the language of people using stuff, you have to be ready for some real answers in terms of how actual people use stuff.

Critique through design is fine, and even admirable, but to what end? What comes out of the critique? What happens inside the echo chamber when the critique doesn’t leave it? It’s all a bit like Adbusters, but with industrial and product design though isn’t it? Preaching to the converted and rampant consumerist guilt and educated self hatred.

Critical design as a force for change real or imagined needs to do a couple of things before it dissipates into the mud of post-modern academia and dies a whimpering death like most other movements. It needs to be in Tesco. It needs to be in the Daily Mail. It needs to talk to actual people. Real life people. People who not only don’t go to galleries, but probably have never been to one and probably never will.