Thing That Critical Design Evokes

This essay discusses and compares main themes from the lectures the Thingness of Things and Critical Design. The way that objects can act as a marker of social values. The way that our objects and belongings have a strong association with our personal identity. The way that dominant social groups define our cultural values. The suggestion that designed objects are artefacts of culture. The way that design today focuses heavily on the look of the object and how consumable it can be. The suggestion that dreams are a way for us to escape from political horror and blind us from reality.

In the ‘Thingness of Things’ lecture, it made me think about how our relationship with objects are created and formed in different ways that are accepted. Material culture very much centres around objects, what they are made up of and the properties that they have. The way in which the objects are seen and how the components of an object are perceived are central to the ability to understand the cultural and social relations (Woodward,2013). All objects are in some way or another and artefact that tell a story this emphasises that if we look at an object we can tell something about the culture that surrounded it. Objects also have the ability to signify or identify us and our social class. For example fishermen on board the coal boat Hamnavoe in the early 1910s would have knitted jumpers in different styles or patterns, this would allow them to be identified if they were to go over board or missing (Woodward 2007.) (Appendix 1.) This emphasises that the thingness of things plays a huge part in how we identify ourselves and how others can see our culture by the objects we associate with.

The ‘Critical Design’ lecture made me really think about how design is focusing on how to make objects and technology look better, more easy to use and how to make it more consumable. It also made me question what is it for? This lecture highlighted that objects and design should be making us think and ask questions. We no longer interested in how we can improve and experiment with how items are now or how we can make them different or better. We are trying to experiment with different possibilities altogether(Dunne and Raby,2013.) Raising awareness and provoking debate is another thing that critical design evokes, it suggests that we have to look at objects and design in different ways unlike art we do not expect Critical design to be shocking or unexpected. Critical Design is closer to everyday living and that where the unexpected is most shocking ideas can come from. This can suggest that our everyday can change and be different.

Dunne and Raby put emphasis on Critical Designin the late 90’s they suggest that design provides us with answers and questions on how society could change how we see things and how the world could change (Gonsher.I.) Woodward puts emphasis on the fact that material culture focuses on the fact that it centres upon objects there materials and properties and how they play a huge part in understanding of culture and the social relations that they have. The Thingness of Things lecture also focused a lot on the fact that object can suggest the social culture that we have and suggests that all designed objects are artefacts (Csikszentmihalyi. M and Rochbert. E.) Objects have the ability to signify or establish social meaning for the person that owns the object, Critical design also suggests this as it emphasises that fact that the purpose of design could be to please the person that has it. However it also suggest that instead we could be asking questions. An objects design can limit us to only seeing what is plausible and probable but we are yet to see what can actually be achieved by design and what could be possible in design. This suggest that objects are a huge part of our lives and can reveal many things about our culture.

Critical Design plays a part in obscuring our understanding and awareness of class. It is seen as being a strategy of creativity and establishing that design can make visible the unusual things in our daily lives, however the relationship between ourselves and objects and the work that goes in to making them. This allows us to think about and question the society and culture that we are in (Held.D.) The Thingness of Things idea also suggest that the objects that we own can change the was people see us and how they hold the power to give us status and a feeling of superiority(Csikszentmihalyi. M and Rochbert. E.) The idea of this could explain why we surround ourselves with so many objects. Many objects that we own could be considered as ordinary, routine or boring however even these objects can have the capability to resemble and symbolise the deepest parts of us (Carl.J, Baker.S, Robards.B, Scott.J, Hillman.W, Lawrence.G.) This suggests that the objects we fill our lives with eventually become part of who we are and our self identity, therefore becoming markers of our identity. This can also imply that we are seen through the objects that we have and can gain power and social status from these. For example if you were to own an expensive car or shoes to those who rely or believe in there status will perceive then as having superior qualities or distinctions. (Appendix 2.)This reenforces the argument that we are seen though the objects and positions we have.

Predictions and possibilities are endless when it comes to design, however we seem to only be focusing on what is plausible and probable rather than opening up to what is actually possible. However this allows us to speculate and predict what could come. This is further emphasises by Science Fiction, as it gives us a look into the future and allows us to see what is possible and what is possibly to come (Sterling.B.)