Abstract

This study focuses on the concept of “Critical Design”, which describes the development and use of design objects for the discussion of social and technological problem areas. “Critical Design” provokes or puzzles the consumer. Instead of offering people merely optimized and constraint action patterns, open situations and questions are created. The arising reactions provide valuable insights for innovative product development and basic design research. This paper assesses the potential of “Critical Design” approaches to be utilized as novel research tools for future challenges to design. The main contributions of this paper are threefold. Firstly, it reviews various ways of user engagement to design that reinterprets the conventional relationship of user and designer. Secondly, it selects and evaluates specific qualitative research methodologies that accept and support the active involvement of the researcher as well as the importance of letting theories “emerge” out of data, in order to develop a methodological research framework specific and original to design. Finally, the study offers an assessment of “Critical Design’s” potential, to understand and deal with people in a novel and richer way and to test it as a research tool that supports complex approaches. “Critical Design” illustrates the need for design researcher to deal with complexity encountered in the general dynamic of actors and in people’s critical thinking.

Keywords:

Design And Society, Action Research, Social And Cultural Studies, Qualitative Research Methodology

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Jul 7th, 12:00 AM

Design research and the Complexity Encountered in People’s Critical Thoughts

This study focuses on the concept of “Critical Design”, which describes the development and use of design objects for the discussion of social and technological problem areas. “Critical Design” provokes or puzzles the consumer. Instead of offering people merely optimized and constraint action patterns, open situations and questions are created. The arising reactions provide valuable insights for innovative product development and basic design research. This paper assesses the potential of “Critical Design” approaches to be utilized as novel research tools for future challenges to design. The main contributions of this paper are threefold. Firstly, it reviews various ways of user engagement to design that reinterprets the conventional relationship of user and designer. Secondly, it selects and evaluates specific qualitative research methodologies that accept and support the active involvement of the researcher as well as the importance of letting theories “emerge” out of data, in order to develop a methodological research framework specific and original to design. Finally, the study offers an assessment of “Critical Design’s” potential, to understand and deal with people in a novel and richer way and to test it as a research tool that supports complex approaches. “Critical Design” illustrates the need for design researcher to deal with complexity encountered in the general dynamic of actors and in people’s critical thinking.

 

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