What is "critical" about critical design?

Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell

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

262 Scopus citations


Critical design is a research through design methodology that foregrounds the ethics of design practice, reveals potentially hidden agendas and values, and explores alternative design values. While it seems to be a timely fit for today's socially, aesthetically, and ethically oriented approaches to HCI, its adoption seems surprisingly limited. We argue that its central concepts and methods are unclear and difficult to adopt. Rather than merely attempting to decode the intentions of its originators, Dunne and Raby, we instead turn to traditions of critical thought in the past 150 years to explore a range of critical ideas and their practical uses. We then suggest ways that these ideas and uses can be leveraged as practical resources for HCI researchers interested in critical design. We also offer readings of two designs, which are not billed as critical designs, but which we argue are critical using a broader formulation of the concept than the one found in the current literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2013
Subtitle of host publicationChanging Perspectives, Conference Proceedings - The 31st Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2013
Event31st Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Changing Perspectives, CHI 2013 - Paris, France
Duration: Apr 27 2013May 2 2013

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Other31st Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Changing Perspectives, CHI 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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