Critical Design Critique


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Dunne and Raby cited Frederic Jameson on their book, Speculative Everything: Design Fiction and Social Dreaming, published in 2013 in London, who thought that alternatives are exactly what we need. Design speculations can provoke collective redefinition of our relationship with reality. The idea of possible future created by speculative design can be used to understand the present that enable us to discuss the kind of future people want, or do not want, to progress for the better. Off course “Better means different things to different people” as Dunne and Raby quoted, as critical design is a subject to discussions and debates.

Critical design is not used to predict the future but to open more possibilities that can be discussed, debated, and used to collectively define a preferable future for given group of people, therefore, should not be decided by a powerful minority. Designers should work with expert, providing designs that let the expert imagination flow freely, and accommodate further collaborative speculation.

Dunne and Raby believe that by speculating more, and exploring alternative scenarios, we can easily tackle reality. Even though future cannot be predicted, we can increase possibilities of more desirable future happening by setting up today factors in place.

The critique

Luiza Prado and her co-writer Pedro Oliviera on, questioned about political accountability of Speculative and Critical Design (SCD). Environment where the SCD came from gave the privilege to ignore things like class, gender, and race. With this privilege, SCD designers seem to forget, or choose to forget about the issues because they don’t affect the designers. But this privilege doesn’t exist outside the 1st world north European countries. People around the world has to tackle class, gender, race discriminations, that interestingly unable to be recognized by SCD.

Despite that, however, SCD has something necessary and valid to offer to society, but urged to escape its narrow northern European middle class confines. As Prado stated on her post that “Speculative Design can only earn its “Critical” name once it leaves its own comfort zone and start looking beyond privilege, for real”.


p.1–9 of Dunne, A. and Raby F., (2013). Speculative Everything: Design Fiction and Social Dreaming. London: The MIT press.

Prado, L., (2014). Questioning the “Critical” in Speculative and Critical Design. [online] Available from


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