Critical Design: Interface and Imagination
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Is design the new core competency? From user experience research to sustainable development, professional labor and productivity is increasingly framed in the language of design, while design fields are growing rapidly in industry and academia alike. This is partly a product of “design thinking,” an alternative approach to interacting with the world through the tools of design. In these contexts, design purports to approach diverse facets of human life in terms of innovative problem-solving, whether it be resource management in the Global South, urban development, home furnishings, or the latest tech gadgets and platforms. But what does it mean to approach the world in terms of design, and who is designing what and for whom? What is at stake in framing labor in terms of design? What norms become encoded in interface design, for example, and how does this shape technology-related practices?
This course takes design, especially interface design, as an object of study through empirical and critical analysis. This is not a course in the subdiscipline of “critical design” per se, but rather a sociological and anthropological study of design and related theories and practices. We will read works by Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, Bruno Latour, Gilles Deleuze and other theorists, in conversation with emerging literature in critical studies of design, such as the work of Lucy Suchman, Paul Dourish, Natasha Dow Schüll, Dawn Nafus, and Keith Murphy. In this class, students will not only explore contemporary critical design literature and key theoretical backgrounds, but will also engage critically with the creation, use, and understanding of user experience, interface, and design aesthetics.
Course ScheduleThursday, 6:30-9:30pm
September 08 — September 29, 2016