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It’s been a week of reading about Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby! I have to say they have left me
more confused than convinced at the end of it all. In an attempt to understand their design
principle I answered a few questions (for myself).

What is Critical Design? How does it affect Interactions?

– Design that does more than just solve a problem or make the world a better place
– Design based on critical content
– Critical Design is NOT art
– Critical Design is a tool to engage one in a conversation
– Design which makes the invisible visible
– Critical design is about mixing criticism with optimism
A world of industrially manufactured objects dictate what it means to be human in our consumer society. Would a change in the society bring about a change in our behavior? If so, then it most definitely will have an effect on our interactions with the objects.

What is Design Fiction? What has it got to do with Interaction Design?

Design fiction is essentially a term  to analyze the emerging parallels of present and future to test new ideas in design. It is design to inspire. The preface to a chapter yet unwritten. It’s design’s way of asking ‘What will you prize most in the future?’ Design Fiction is as dependent on interaction design as is the latter, on it. Fiction as a result of speculative design has a direct effect on how things will be perceived. Perception and communication are key to interaction.

So then, what is Interaction Design?

Interaction Design to me is a point where object behavior meets human behavior. A point where they stop to exist as individuals and become simultaneous, almost symbiotic. It is no more what technology can do for design but what design can do for technology. Interaction Design today is about making technology more meaningful and relevant to our lives. Products have taken a backseat. It’s about behavioral studies. Design can bridge the gap between consumer satisfaction and be a mirror to user needs. Interaction Design today is about humanizing objects.

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All along in my undergraduate studies and up until now, I’ve always looked at design as a problem solving tool.
There is a problem. Identify it. Address it. Design for it.
So when along came Dunne + Ruby with the idea of design as a tool to question and not answer, my foundations were a little shaken.

Design as a provocateur?

Their work to me borders on the fine line between satire and parody.
Having said that, it walks a fine line between being a ‘design’ and being a ‘piece of art’. What differentiates the two, in my opinion, is the work’s ability to relate to everyday functionality. Design as an inherent part of life.
The Statistical Clock from the series “Do you want to replace the existing normal?” is my favorite piece. For as long as I can remember, the morning news has been a ritual and elemental in my growing up. If you didn’t start the day with a brush through the newspaper, it seemed incomplete. Back in the days politics and business formed the main content of such a publication or broadcast but increasingly news of murder, rape, accidents, death have been crowding the first page/headlines.
How many of us want to start the day on a morose note?

It is then only but ironic that the same newspaper report about ‘Happiness Quotient’!

Thought provoking indeed.