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Title: Design as criticism : methods for a critical graphic design practice
Author: Laranjo, Francisco Miguel
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 2744
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2017
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This practice-led research is the result of an interest in graphic design as a specific critical activity. Existing in the context of the 2008 financial and subsequent political crisis, both this thesis and my work are situated in an expaded field of graphic design. This research examines the emergence of the terms critical design and critical practice,and aims to develop methods that use criticism during the design process from a practitioner’s perspective. Central aims of this research are to address a gap in design discourse in relation to this terminology and impact designers operating under the banner of such terms, as well as challenging practitioners to develop a more critical design practice. The central argument of this thesis is that in order to develop a critical practice, a designer must approach design as criticism. Adopting a mixed methods approach to research, this thesis draws on 'action research'(Schön, 1983) and is aligned with the proposition of ‘problem setting’ instead of the established ‘problem solving’ approach to design, using the following methods: 1)workshops at the Royal College of Art, Sandberg Institute, University of Westminster and London College of Communication; 2) selection of projects from professional practice; 3) self-initiated research projects; 4) critical writing, including essays, reviews,interviews and in particular the publication 'Modes of Criticism'. Following the theorisation of the terms critical design and critical practice, historical survey of criticism, politics and ideology in relation to graphic design, and reflection on the workshops and methods detailed above, this thesis proposes a critical method consisting of three dimensions: visual criticality, critical reflexivity and design fiction. It argues that criticism as design method offers a fundamental opportunity to develop a reflected and critical approach to design, and more importantly, society. This method creates opportunities to develop a critical practice; one that shapes a continuous agency and interest in wicked, systemic and infrastructural problems with a constant ability to critically adapt and research their multi-layered nature. That will on the one hand help the designer to become a substantial agent of change and on the other, in particularly difficult circumstances of conflicted personal, private, disciplinary and public interest such as commercial practice, to find opportunities for criticality.
Supervisor: Triggs, Teal ; Horton, Ian Sponsor: Foundation for Science and Technology
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Graphic Design