I write about the practice of design, mostly software and socio-technical systems but real world design as well.  Design is the central activity in all forms of making.  Almost every aspect of modern life is shaped by, or depends upon design.  Even so, no unifying theory exists to explain the range of cognition, behaviours and skills called upon by design.

To understand design in a particular context you eventually find yourself asking questions about rationality, objectivity, practice and history.  The many unaddressed tensions in design practice yield rich pickings for the design observer.  Add to this the recent interest in Design Thinking and decades of Systems Thinking and we have all the necessary ingredients for a Blog!

My objective in these posts and short essays is to make design theory and history read like a magazine article, whilst practicing the art of design critique.

The good critic’s job hasn’t changed. It’s knowledge transfer. We need them because their role doesn’t lie primarily in moulding our views to match theirs, but in giving us access to our own opinions.  — Penny Modra, editor, publisher and critic.


Designers who engage in “the design of dissent” do exist, but design’s default position, which most designers accept, whether they create products or graphics, is to grease the wheels of capitalism with style and taste, as CalArts teacher and type designer Jeffery Keedy once put it. Design is deeply implicated. It is one of the ways in which capitalism is most obviously expressed, and never more so than today when design is widely regarded as a miracle ingredient with the power to seduce the consumer and vanquish less design-conscious competitors.  – Rick Poynor, Design Observer 25/09/2005.


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