by Anne Britt Torkildsby
The world is facing one crisis after another, and the next generation of designers will most likely face challenging issues relating to inclusion, equality, and diversity at some point in their careers. Thus, they – as the future ‘universal design thinkers’ (Torkildsby, 2017), must be adequately equipped with methodological tools, as well as valuable experiences of interdisciplinary work.
One way to this is by Fighting Stigma with Critical Design.
In short, ‘Critical design’ is all about using design to explore issues and ask questions, rather than directly providing answers/solutions to problems. In doing so, critical design can promote new ways of thinking about the design of assistive technology – a product category that today seems to provoke stigmaburdened responses amongst people.
The results of using critical design during a design process is called ‘Critical Design Examples’ (CDEs; Torkildsby, 2014), which, in the context of this workshop, aims to question the student’s assumptions and preconceived ideas about design and product stigma. The take-away from participating in this workshop is basically that the students get hands on experience of how to design in order to eliminate prejudice and discrimination – hence better ensure that stigma is a high priority when developing future products, services, environments, etc.