This week’s readings about critical design give me some confidence on doing design projects. I usually label myself as “researcher”, not “designer”. Even in my research, I focus more on the theoretical part (such as formatting research questions, constructing theoretical framework) than on the actual data analysis. I feel the function of empirical results is to answer my research questions, which are the most important parts. Thus, although I am taking a design course, my main purpose, at the beginning, was to understand the principles behind a design, not to do the actual design. So there was always something in my mind as “I cannot do design/I cannot do design well, because I am just a researcher, I do not make practical products.”

But critical design demonstrates the connection between research and design, theories and practice very well. We do not design in a vacuum but in the society with various socio-cultural implications. We do not design for no reason, but for users with diverse characteristics. Thus, design is not isolated from research. A good design requires tons of in-depth research of the socio-cultural factors, needs a substantial theoretical framework, and inscribes assumptions, values, ideologies, and behavioral norms, which can become an essential ethical stance for designers.

I especially appreciate that Jeff and Shaowen’s paper describes the methodological approaches about how to use critical concepts in a practical way (which shows that researchers/theorists can also be helpful…)That is a good guideline to incorporate theories/concepts in practical work and to make strong logical arguments. I think now I’m not so panic when doing design projects, at least.