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Friday, June 9 • 11:55am - 12:15pm
Developing a Critical & Sensitive Design Practice: Detaching from Market Logic

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In lieu of a workshop, I will give a short talk on the importance of providing designers---emerging and seasoned---the opportunity to explore an ethos and practice that are detached from market logic. I will ground this with four key parts: 1) a theoretical framework that was developed from my doctoral research, 2) a pedagogical framework that I designed as a Teaching Fellow, 3) a case study that outlines a way to apply this into the classroom, and 4) an exercise that can be immediately used, at the individual, studio, and classroom levels. This talk aims to provide critical design theorists, designers, and technologists with the vocabulary to discuss design differently while also the opportunity to engage with tools to explore the possibilities in this domain.

Design education in the US pays focused attention on technical skill sets and consumer satisfaction, conditioning undergraduate and graduate students in developing a de-contextualized practice that is contingent on market development. The centrality of a market logic in curriculum development reflects the increasingly profit-driven industries and monopolies that shape design pedagogy located in a region that has a profound impact on the global market, organization of labor, and concentration of power—the US–warranting deeper engagement on how design curricula are developed. This workshop provides an opportunity, space, and facilitated experience for design educators and practitioners to detach their existing design etho from market logic to identify ways to challenge their existing approaches and applications. Participants will be introduced to dominant strands of thought that sustain a market logic in the design industry to then deconstruct their current works and identify ways to pivot their ethos and practice.

This workshop does not focus solely on the ways design is used to continue the detriments of US-centric capitalism onto US soil and many others. Rather, it sheds light on the empowerment that lies in having the tools to identify how these values show up in one's work to then make actionable change, incremental and long-term. I argue that if design is a world-making (Arturo Escobar) and articulatory (Mahmoud Keshavarz) practice, it, similar to technology, also has the propensity to be used for creating the conditions where the codependency on US-centric values, such as growth, efficiency, and seamlessness, are no longer or less relevant. In order to direct design in this particular direction, design pedagogy needs to create a space for students and educators alike to expand their imaginations on what an ethos and practice outside of and aware of US-centric capitalism may entail—in theory, speculation, and practice.

The goal of this workshop is in two parts: 1) provide educators and practitioners with a hands-on and reflexive learning experience that critically engages with the ways in which market logic profoundly shapes industry, beginning with their own works; and 2) equip educators and practitioners with a template that can be applied (and modified) to their teaching and working contexts, as appropriate and relevant. The hope is that this workshop will begin to concretize the ways anti-capitalist theories oriented towards a social justice that de-centers the US are tangible and applicable, incrementally or dramatically to their ethos and practice. It aims to empower, encourage, and equip all participants who attend this workshop.


Esther Kang

Carnegie Mellon University

Friday June 9, 2023 11:55am - 12:15pm EDT
PS 311 (Design Center)