Design for debate, an introduction to design fiction and my research topic
I had the pleasure to give a presentation of my research and to introduce design fiction again at Pôle supérieur du Design – Villefontaine. My presentation was organised in three categories that respect the 3 necessary steps to make design fiction (according to the 3 parts of my research design space):
- Proposing alternatives by design,
- Provoking meaningful reactions,
- Articulating a discussion/debate
After an introduction to the first branch of my design space (proposing alternatives), I gave some exercises (listed bellow). A week after it was great to already see improvements and appropriations of my advices. (Sorry, this feedback is composed of raw notes in french.)
Intro – Le design fiction est voué à soulever des questions chez l’audience/utilisateur quand au monde dans lequel on vit – et ce, par la confrontation avec des produits de design venus d’un autre monde et dont la conception repose sur d’autres valeurs que celles que l’on connait.
The other day I had a good conversation with my friend Alex, he’s an electronic & digital artist, as I was presenting my work he stopped me right in the beginning to ask about critical design legitimacy.
“— Alex: Why is design relevant on the topic of critique? Is it just a fashionable trend?
— Max: No it’s not! OK maybe it has been fashionable during a period of time when popularized by Paola Antonelli and Bruce Sterling (under the name of Design fiction). But it no longer is and I find it more interesting now that we can observe what is left of it, what is it really good for.
— A: So why design and why critique? Art and philosophy have done that for ages.
— M: Critical design is different from critical theory and art, as it does not have the same tools and it does not touch the same people. In the popular culture design produces a familiar typology of objects – commissioned by a client, aiming at a user – that integrates well into our lives (and changes it). Design object have a different place than art or literature objects: they are aimed to be “used”. Therefore they are touching different people (and differently). They can reach the consumer (i.e. pretty much everybody).
— M: Talking about consuming. In our current (consumerist) society, design and designer stand at a different place than philosophers and artists. They are at the interface of industries (plus other stake holders) and consumers. They translate technology and stake holders goals into user needs, at least they participate to making the final artefact appealing. I do not want to enter in a debate on consumerist society, I do not either think that designers have a legitimacy to propose critiques and solutions. But talking about designers role and impact, their place in the society is different and relevant (comparing to art and philosophy), they can (and they must) take action if they want to explore alternative paradigms and to stimulate the audience’s reflective concern for the current state of things.