Beyond the Formal: Critical Methods for the Development and Assessment of Design

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In the educational and professional design environment, most design criticism is centered around the formal and practical aspects of the design. While formal criticism is a necessary and vital method of critique, relying solely on this approach fails to consider how our designs are influenced historically, culturally, and socially, and the design's larger historical, cultural, and social contexts. Learning to examine design not only formally, but also metaphorically, genealogically, ethically, and symptomatically enhances critical thinking and problem solving abilities. In this paper I will present these critical methods and show how they can be used to enhance not only the critique of work, but also parallel and/or precede the development of the design itself. Designers must understand how their work is influenced by history and impacted by the moral, intellectual, and cultural climate of an era. They must be able to examine design rhetorically, to identify the work's key metaphors and surmise the designer's intent. They must also be able to examine the relationship of values, design, and social responsibility. These issues and others will be explored.


Keywords: Critical Methods of Design, Formal, Metaphorical, Genealogical, Ethical, Symptomatic Criticism, Critical Thinking, Visual Problem Solving
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Prof. David Bieloh

Assistant Professor, Department of Art, Austin Peay State University
Clarksville, TN, USA

David Bieloh is an assistant professor of graphic design at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. He has worked as a professional graphic designer and as an art educator for over thirteen years. David received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Communication Design from the University of North Texas. His research interests focus on the relationship of values, design, and social responsibility, and the dichotomy that exists in the application of design that raises questions about the morality of consumer-led design and the ethical responsibility of the designer. He is also an avid marathon runner.

Ref: I08P0493