Critical design and critical theory: The challenge of designing for provocation

Shaowen Bardzell, Jeffrey Bardzell, Jodi Forlizzi, John Zimmerman, John Antanitis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

158 Scopus citations


Constructive design research is a form of research where design activity is a central research activity. One type of constructive design research is critical design, which seeks to disrupt or transgress social and cultural norms. Critical design's advocates have turned to critical theory as an intellectual resource to support their approach. Interestingly, critical design processes remain under-articulated in the growing design research literature. In this paper, we first explain why critical design is so hard to describe as a design practice or process. We then describe two critical design case studies we undertook and the effects we observed them having when place in the field. After sharing our breakdowns and breakthroughs along the way, we offer reflections on designing for provocativeness, the value of deep relationships between researchers and research participants, and the need to plan for and go with a fluid and emergent research plan - - with the goal of helping clarify critical design as an approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Designing Interactive Systems Conference, DIS '12
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2012
EventDesigning Interactive Systems Conference, DIS '12 - Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Duration: Jun 11 2012Jun 15 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Designing Interactive Systems Conference, DIS '12


ConferenceDesigning Interactive Systems Conference, DIS '12
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle Upon Tyne

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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