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Saturday, June 10 • 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Reconstructing the Design Critique: Shifting from Traditional Assessment Methods to Collaborative and Generative Critique Strategies

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A critique is a powerful catalyst for transformation. Through various forms of critique, we can collectively immerse ourselves in thought experiments and feedback exchanges that allow us to discover multiple dimensions associated with creative work. Similar to social discourse, critiques provide opportunities for diverse and collaborative commentary where all members can step into the role of the activist to propose alternative paths. Historically, traditional modes and methods of critique applied in the design studio worked to assess concept development and design progress to evaluate designed outcomes. These modes are an inheritance of Western European and historically dominant ideas about visual art (i.e., what is good or bad art, canonical art theory, universality, and the like). They perpetuate knowledge hierarchies and vertical interactions between the instructor as the subject expert and the student as the novice or apprentice. Examining the impacts of traditional modes of critique within creative spaces helps us reconsider our roles and develop new approaches that focus on our needs and the multitude of aspects that fuel the exchange of feedback and ideas. Within the design studio, critiques offer spaces to create agency and active citizenship. As described in the chapter of the book; Debates About Art and Design Education titled Beyond civics: Art and Design Education and the Making of Active/Activist Citizens, "Education for active citizenship takes different forms, but usually includes the classroom and the school as polis – as an arena in which diverse young people have both rights and responsibilities and are able, as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations (UN), 1989) suggests, to have a say in matters that are of concern to them." (Thompson and Hall, 2020).
With agency and citizenship in mind, our workshop aims to create multidimensional critique experiences by interrogating traditional criticism methods rooted in canonical design knowledge and providing space for more decolonial, inclusive, and context-based design discourse. Framing our workshop as a forum for social engagement, we aim to facilitate conversations and activities where participants can discuss the connection between current social issues and social justice movements, along with their personal and collective work. As a shared space for collaboration rather than assessment, we intend for this workshop to provide room for generative discussions that inspire action. We plan to utilize writing utensils, sticky notes, wall surfaces, mobile devices, and virtual collaborative platforms during the workshop to activate discussion and produce designed outcomes. By interrogating critiques, we invite participants to "shift away from the traditional convention where they are subjects" (Thompson, 2020) and empower them to become engaged citizens. We also encourage them to develop an awareness for analyzing how critique structures align with their identity, personality, communication, cognitive needs, and ways of learning. By facilitating an active conversation focused on deconstructing traditional modes of critique, we strive to engage participants in co-creating and applying new formative and multidimensional critique methods based on their lived experiences.


Dajana Nedic

Virginia Tech

Piper Schuerman

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Saturday June 10, 2023 3:30pm - 5:00pm EDT
ARC E-13