Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Deficiencies in design criticism and writing

In my time procrastinating while writing up case study analyses, I came across some interesting articles on the web today.

The first was on the design community blog, On Social Design, initiated to promote design as a tool for change. The site's most recent article (as of today) was written by Kate Andrews titled, 'Design matters, like never before'. She starts by asking if we need to redefine what 'good design' means in our rapidly changing society.

There has been a lot of noise around the web lately on 'good design' and I don't know if I take more notice because the Design Council launched their 'Good Design Plan' last year. The 'Good Design Plan' is the Design Council's national design strategy plan for 2008–11, and in it they outline that good design is:
  • Sustainable design
  • A process
  • Joining creativity and innovation
  • Delivering value
  • And it’s the work of good designers (and good clients)
And on the note of design policy, earlier this month, 10 design proposals for 'Redesigning America's Future' were distributed to the all members of Congress and the (at the time incoming) Obama Administration. The very first proposal stated the need to formalise the American Design Council.

But I am going a bit off the point here having started with Kate's article... The point Kate is making is not what is 'good design', rather in order to explore this question further, we need better and more critical writing from the design community. I entirely agree with Kate on this because in my PhD research process, having to search and review design literature, I have to say it comes up pretty poor against the writing and publications of other disciplines (such as business, social science etc.). And it is for this reason that I am needing to contexualise my research into design, in these other disciplines (and yes, it is challenging doing literature searches and reviews that spans several disciplines, but why reinvent the wheel?).

Also ditto on Kate's note regarding the need for more critical design, and writing of it. From my perspective though, this deficiency was first brought to my attention about 2 years ago by my PhD buddy, Ben.

Ps. I have heard too many times people say that Designers aren't good a writing, but I believe that is untrue. I know loads of Designers who write as a form of reflection and/or even as a key part of their profession eg. Copywriters and graphic designers. This is not the reason I critique design literature.

For more on critical design and writing see here on Core 77.


Vincenzo said...

Dear Lauren,
Really appreciate you article.
Let me know next time you come to London and I will arrange you a meeting with Kate Andrews as I am in contact with her through another project. Hope to see you soon

My Miracle Baby said...

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