Tangible Criticality, Boston, MA

Gallery Show

In collaboration with Zachary Kaiser. 

In order to design the future, one must take a critical look at the present state of affairs, plotting a timeline using reference points from today as one speculates on society’s current trajectory. As such, speculative design as a teaching method—having students design objects for the future based on observations of the present—inspires a sort of tangible criticality, one that can be analyzed in the context of today and tomorrow. The learning experiences embedded in this process are infinitely valuable for the next generation of design practitioners.

But what of the future of learning? In order to understand properly the challenges with which our students will soon be grappling, it is important to construct the tools that bring those issues to light today. Imagining the learning tools of tomorrow might, for example, allow us to anticipate the seismic shifts in research methodologies employed by our students. Active engagement in the speculative design of learning technologies and experiences offers educators an opportunity to identify concrete, implementable pedagogical approaches that can be applied in today’s classrooms.

This dialectic between speculative design as a teaching method and as a means for developing new teaching tools presents a fertile ground for exploring innovative design pedagogy—providing the unexpected opportunities so cherished by designers. This exhibition seeks to present the perspectives of design educators working on either side of this dialectic, hopefully inspiring further practice and discourse in the domain of speculative and experimental design.