Abstract

This paper features an edited conversation with designers Ralph Ball and Maxine Naylor. It explores their thinking in relation to critical design. In 1985 Ralph Ball formed a design partnership with Maxine Naylor a reputable experimental designer maker. Together they began to challenge the boarders between art, craft and design. They have exhibited work internationally and held teaching positions at colleges in the UK and USA. Over a decade from 1985 Ball taught on Furniture, Jewellery and Industrial Design at the Royal College of Art, where Naylor taught on Furniture Design, directing the course between 1995 and 1998. Today Ball is Professor of Design at Central Saint Martins University of the Arts London and Naylor Professor of Design and Director of the Design Research Institute University of Brighton. Through practice and academic tenure they have refined their critical perspectives and developed a distinctive approach to practice based research. They describe themselves as critical designers using design as a critical, visual discourse to communicate ideas about design culture and society. Taking experimentation as a research method they subject their ideas to a critical process of refutation; questioning the work through an approach that challenges protocols of design method aiming to enhance the design profession. In this conversation the designers’ discuss their concepts of ‘open-process’ and ‘design poetics’. They describe their role acting as critics of design from within design practice. They outline their thoughts on the increasingly un-ideological culture of Industrial Design describing how through playful experiment they question the value of repetition in design and mass production of products. They do this by taking modernist axioms to extremes and ‘embedding narrative’ into objects as commentary on the state of contemporary design. Supplementing the conversation the author offers his reflections. Primarily this exposes a form of critical design that differs significantly from popular and often technologically orientated notions of critical design.

Keywords:

Design Practice, Industrial Design, Reflective Practices, Rhetoric, Poetics.

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Jul 7th, 12:00 AM

Perspectives on Critical Design: a Conversation with Ralph Ball and Maxine Naylor

This paper features an edited conversation with designers Ralph Ball and Maxine Naylor. It explores their thinking in relation to critical design. In 1985 Ralph Ball formed a design partnership with Maxine Naylor a reputable experimental designer maker. Together they began to challenge the boarders between art, craft and design. They have exhibited work internationally and held teaching positions at colleges in the UK and USA. Over a decade from 1985 Ball taught on Furniture, Jewellery and Industrial Design at the Royal College of Art, where Naylor taught on Furniture Design, directing the course between 1995 and 1998. Today Ball is Professor of Design at Central Saint Martins University of the Arts London and Naylor Professor of Design and Director of the Design Research Institute University of Brighton. Through practice and academic tenure they have refined their critical perspectives and developed a distinctive approach to practice based research. They describe themselves as critical designers using design as a critical, visual discourse to communicate ideas about design culture and society. Taking experimentation as a research method they subject their ideas to a critical process of refutation; questioning the work through an approach that challenges protocols of design method aiming to enhance the design profession. In this conversation the designers’ discuss their concepts of ‘open-process’ and ‘design poetics’. They describe their role acting as critics of design from within design practice. They outline their thoughts on the increasingly un-ideological culture of Industrial Design describing how through playful experiment they question the value of repetition in design and mass production of products. They do this by taking modernist axioms to extremes and ‘embedding narrative’ into objects as commentary on the state of contemporary design. Supplementing the conversation the author offers his reflections. Primarily this exposes a form of critical design that differs significantly from popular and often technologically orientated notions of critical design.

 

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