Criticality in Design

[Funding Agency: Intel ISTC-Social Computing]

This research foregrounds the ethics of design practice, reveals potentially hidden agendas and values, and explores alternative design values. It has included the following 8 components thus far: theory-making—reconstituting critical design by substantially rethinking the notion of “critical”; methodology—reading, interpreting, and analyzing critical designs that are evidence-based and carefully reasoned for real-world intervention; the analysis of exemplars of critical designs for practicing, researching, and teaching critical designs; unpacking the notion of materiality and the medium of interaction; the staging of critical design exhibitions for knowledge production; the design and evaluation of two critical design card decks to support research through design and brainstorming efforts; developing strategies to document research through design process; and the prototyping and longitudinal deployment of critical designs.

The research motivates and unpacks four inter-related threads on criticality and design: (1) Changing Perspectives: A design, theory, or work that presents a framing or point of view that helps us perceive the particulars of a domain according to a new schema; (2) Proposals for Change: The design embodies a provocative proposal for an alternative way of being; the proposal is grounded in possibility, and we can imagine ourselves in its universe; (3) Enhancing Appreciation: The design contributes to our appreciation of a sociocultural issue of significance by making us more perceptive or imaginative about/in a domain; and (4) Reflectiveness: The design facilitates our shift from direct perception to a more reflective or self-aware stance and also towards action (i.e., doing something)

Notable outputs: 1 Best Paper Award at ACM CHI 2013, 1 Best Paper Honorable Mention Award at ACM TEI2014, 1 Best Paper Honorable Mention Award at ACM CHI2015, a book on Humanistic HCI. one journal article on critical design deployment, and a critical design exhibition.