CMU Students: Post Critical Design



Speculative Critical Design (SCD) helps us question the role objects and systems play in everyday life. A contemporary criticism of SCD is that it fails to take into account what everyday life means for people in different cultural and socioeconomic conditions. The objects and systems shown in such speculations are often narrowly defined in their outreach and result in speculations that are overly focused on narratives of a privileged western world. They fail to capture the disparities of the human condition prevalent in large parts of the world.  In this regard, SCD limits perception of design by the general public rather than pushing boundaries of the field.  

For this class, students were invited to create Speculative Critical Design projects that consider the implications of their speculations on everyday life and include those who suffer the consequences of producing SCD artifacts. Students were asked to design artifacts that question white privilege while designing for issues of the everyday when it is modified by climate change. These concepts were developed in the framework of post critical design through which the instructor punctuated critical design practice to remake it as a plural, inclusive, action oriented field of design practice. These projects were developed over a course of 4 weeks in fall 2016 semester for Speculative Critical Design class run by Deepa Butoliya at School of Design, CMU. 


Rachel Chang is currently pursuing a degree in Communication Design at Carnegie Mellon University. She is interested in exploring how design constructs and abstracts meaning.

Linna Griffin is a Senior Industrial Design Student from New Jersey. Since coming to Carnegie Mellon to study design, she has focused on creating sustainable design solutions for the betterment of the planet. One day she hopes to work for Tesla.

Verena Vredeveld is an Industrial Design student at the Technical University of Eindhoven. She is studying Product Design at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design for the Fall 2016 semester. She has always been interested in how people differentiate themselves through their clothing because fashion is such an effective communicator of personal expression. She is exploring how can we can alter our bodies to take self-expression to the next level by means of genetic modification.  

Vicky Hwang is an Industrial Design student studying in Carnegie Mellon University. With a focus on product design and design research, she continues to expand her study to develop her design process. Lately, she has been working on several speculative critical design projects.

Justin Finkenaur is interested in designing products that help people navigate complex systems and environments. He believes a well-designed user experience requires not just designers, but also experts in areas such as business and engineering. Justin enjoys team projects, and strongly supports multidisciplinary collaboration. He is currently studying product design at Carnegie Mellon University as well as pursuing courses in Interaction Design.

Kaleb Crawford is a senior Communication Design major who likes the idea of having a succulent garden, but doesn’t actually own any succulents. Whenever he uses a public computer, he changes the wallpaper to an image of a forest. He’s passionate about preserving the environment, but sees much of modern environmentalism as a capitalist commodification of nature.  He believes it strips away much of what makes it actually worth saving, reducing it to leaf logos, outstretched hands, and the color green. Kaleb wonders what else environmentalism might look like when it caters to different cultures and subcultures, and how we can use design to cultivate a more genuine appreciation of the planet.