In 1970’s the type of design that was used to critic prevailing social values and design ideologies was known as the Italian Radical Design. Nowadays, what is similar to that type of design is the Critical Design. It has the same approaches but it fits them into today’s world.
Anthony Dunne was the first that used this term in his book “Hertzian Tales” (1999) and in 2001 in “Design Noir”
Critical Design, based on a lecture that was given by Anthony Dunne; a professor and head of the Design Interactions programme at the Royal College of Art in London and also a partner in the design studio Dunne & Raby; in 2013, said that Critical design is a way to identify probable futures, to predict the future and forecasting and figure out what is going to happen. Moreover, he added that is still very much dealing with modeling reality in a number of different realities rather than one.
In a text that was written by Dune and Raby in their website are describing Critical design as “proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life. It is more of an attitude than anything else, a position rather than a method.”
In Critical Designs humor plays an important role but you have to be careful so that you are not overdoing it. The aim of this is because they can capture the interest of the viewers and trigger their imagination so as to make up their own assumptions and this is what is consider to be successful design in Critical Design.
So the differences between an ordinary and normal design with critical design is that critical design does not have to make things nice as it is consider that a design should do. Critical design is to draw attention in possibilities that are scary and is a way of warning the world about the future.
An example that i found very interesting is the project “DESIGNS FOR AN OVERPOPULATED PLANET: FORAGERS, 2009″ by Dunne and Raby.
The aim of the project is to warn us that, as the years passes, the population of the world increases and according to the UN the world is running out of food, and in 35 years we need to produce 70% more food.
The information that they wrote in their site about it is that :”This project look at evolutionary processes and molecular technologies and how we can take control. The assumption is that governments and industry together will not solve the problem and that groups of people will need to use available knowledge to build their own solutions, bottom-up. So far we have not really embraced the power to modify ourselves. What if we could extract nutritional value from non-human foods using a combination of synthetic biology and new digestive devices inspired by digestive systems of other mammals, birds, fish and insects?”
Below you can find a video about the project: