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Dutch Fashion Designer Iris Van Herpen had models vacuum-packed and suspended in the air during her show during Paris Fashion week. This lady designed those really tall and weird-looking shoes Lady Gaga wears and does a lot with 3D print outfits.

Anyways, have a look at the link and let me know what you guys thing!

This post will largely be about the role of intention in Design, whether on the part of the author, critic, or audience.  More, the notion of intention is necessarily relied to the meaning making that occurs when participating in design in any of the three roles (designer, critic, audience). Because design’s project is about proposing a new world, a world found to be new by the rethinking of moral systems, emotional responses to stimuli and greater emotional capacities, or the Beautiful, no one person or group of people can provide an argument that hinges upon truth value. Rather, design aims for the plausible, the new, the better, or the unexamined. If design’s project was similar to finding the hardest rock in a box full of rocks, agency and truth value would not be contentious. It is because design wrestles with the fundamental questions of what it is to be a person in this world, that design cannot obey truth value. In this way, design escapes (as Jeff said) the attraction of demonstrating some objective truth, but rather supplies a plausible interpretation of what it is to be human or how life can be lived.

“Design, too, is far more about changing the world than representing it, though certainly it makes heavy use of knowledge representations (e.g., market data, user studies, and social science) to do so.” (p.619)

If Design is said to be about future-making, in the quote as “changing the world”, then design’s main project begs an important question: what, if anything, can we really know about the future? That is, what can we say we know, here engaging Knowledge in a philosophical tradition, about the future. The conditions under which we subscribe something to knowledge don’t exist for future-thinking. At best, all we have for the future are predictions or fantasies we create. This idea is encapsulated by David Hume:

“That the sun will not rise tomorrow is no less intelligible a proposition and implies no more contradiction than the affirmation that it will rise.” – David Hume

Because future-building is the project of design, there is a certain sense of arrogance in the intentions of a critic or designer, if these intentions are characterized by only their truth value.

“Criticism, as I argued earlier, is committed to raising our perceptual ability, our ability to notice and make sense of the relationships between the formal and material particulars of cultural artifacts and their broader socio-cultural significance. ” (p.619)

Here the notion of audience agency is central. All of us, together, have an operator’s role in the meaning making of our future worlds. I forget which author said this but its the idea that we all create mini-Utopias rather than obey some authoritative notion of a utopian world. But this only works if we restrict Criticism to the role of finding value in relation to future-building. In this way, Criticism can improve our perceptual abilities — here making it a possibility for audiences to supply their own perspective on topics of moral systems, the Beautiful, emotional capacities, and other parts of life that have successfully evaded truthful definition for millennia. When it comes down to it, making a normative claim about any of these things limits the agency of audience (users for HCI).

Now, there are limitations to this. I am not saying intentions are valueless. Indeed artistic or designerly intention is vital to understanding a horror film as something enjoyable rather than a seriously disturbed perspective on the way life should be.

Many ideas came to my mind today at class… Here there are two of them.

* I think that art might be a form of control… how can the artist create art that really leverages society? It you’re educated on criticism and to do critique, you may get critical about your role as a designer and about your work… Therefore, you won’t be able to ignore the degree of “commodified dreams” that your work might represent, your work environment might represent, and your work context (micro-world/business world) might represent.


* When students start learning about design, they go easily à la “Dieter Rams” way. I believe that as “older” as you get, and as better “knower” as you get (regarding Design), you may observe that design is a) richer and b) there’s no right or wrong design.



This post is not so much a discussion of the content of the Hansen excerpt on skin interfaces, but rather how she structures her argument, and particularly how she identifies her key themes of critique. I’ll start by identifying a couple key passages that for me resonated most strongly with her core argument:

In transmission communication terms, immediacy can be said to be the dream of noise-free communication, whereas hypermediacy is focused on the nature of the noise-adding channel. In representational terms, one could say that transparent immediacy is representation camouflaged as presentation – it is supposed to be as if the represented phenomenon is in front of us. Conversely, hypermediacy is presentation only, as it is concerned with the presentational aspects of the medium; about how the medium represents. (p74, emphasis mine)

Expressed polemically, these dresses are gadgets designed to satisfy the geeky gadgeteer who falls for easily understandable eye-candy and who is lacking so much social competence, and maybe even social intelligence, that s/he is only able to understand other people when they can be translated into algorithms. (p83, emphasis mine)

…hypermediacy is not the conceptual goal here, even though the dresses in themselves do nothing but point at their own mediacy. Conceptually and rhetorically, Skin Probes subscribe to the paradigm of the perfect and invisible servant responding to our needs even before we are aware of them ourselves. (p85, emphasis mine)

To put it in semiotic terms, the Skin Probe dresses have an iconic expression but they ‘pretend’ that the indexical and the symbolic are identical; that the symbolic has been engulfed by the index.  (p86, emphasis mine)

While I am cheating with my model here a bit (with “expressed polemically” mapping in my mind to In polemical terms, and “Conceptually and rhetorically” mapping to in conceptual and rhetorical terms), I found this means of reading and understanding the content useful. I think we can all agree that writers, academic or otherwise, have their own rhetorical cadence and this can used in order to more easily trace an argument from start to finish, particularly over a long span of a book chapter. Hansen opens this passage with a discussion of telepathy, and a brief overview of the norms of communication, primarily to frame her eventual discussion of the difference between immediacy and hypermediacy. This dialectic is then examined through a series of lenses (the “terms”) to develop critiques of the two Philips dresses as marketing efforts, and also as representations of an ideal for perfectly transparent communication, as imagined and manifested by a corporate entity. The overall point that I think Hansen is trying to make is that while the dresses are limiting in their ability to accomplish their goal of bringing latent human thought and emotion to the surface, they are successful as interpretive objects, and thus are valuable in that they allow us to think more critically about what forms embodied interactions can assume.


So I read the reading and watched the movie and to me, Brunette had a very artistic film lens when making the analyzations for the reading. I don’t know what I would have thought if I watched the movie first without reading the reading. I think I may have been a bit testadura about it. I know I wouldn’t have picked up the doubling characters and connecting all of the similarities throughout the movie. At least from when this reading was written, the author says, “One of the most innovative aspects of Chungking Express is to be found in its dual narratives. Besides neatly dividing the film in two, the two stories also feature similar plots and similar character.”

The author really tells us the director’s views and connects themes and techniques the director makes from previous movies to this one. This allowed me to see this movie more through a lens of “art” and “film making” instead of how I normally would watch a movie, which is to give me a good story and not to be confused. Though, depending how much I want to engage my brain, the two ways of thinking are beginning to merge.

Basically, this movie wasn’t a movie that catered to the general public (at least not the ones today). It wasn’t one of those blockbusters with explosions and random make out scenes to cater to what people think should be in movies. This movie seemed to be very thought and and saturated with meaning though if one does not take a deep dive in it (like the author did in the reading), it would be hard to understand the director’s vision.

A walk on the lighter side… The Onion has Francis Ford Coppola astoundingly reveal that all three Godfather films take place in the same narrative universe.

“I did a similar thing having Carlo’s death in The Godfather carry over into the next two films,” Coppola continued. “You’ll notice he doesn’t show up in any of the others. That’s because he’s still dead in this one continuous storyline. […] It’s subtle, but once you pick up on a detail like this, you’ll start to notice many other little connections.”,35423/

So Jeff, I gotta give you brownie points for catching me off guard with the Type Reviews paper. Me being brutally honest, I was lost for the longest and did not know exactly how to react to it. I was a nice short read, but it confused me since we’ve done so many readings about critical design so I expected it to be another piece about it. Then too, I must thank you also because I am able to look out of the Brillo box and see that criticism doesn’t have to only engulf critical design and film, but a whole array of things. I honestly did like this reading, but it sounded more like an advertisement than an actual in-depth critique compared to the other readings that we have done in the past. But I will have to disagree with what he says about the ‘Emmy’ font. To me, it looks sophisticated and neat; as if someone wanted to take their precious time and make sure every stroke placed down had a certain meaning and form about it. Something like “Sweetheart Script” is too glitzy and too (for the lack of a better word and wanting to steal one of Jeff’s words) foofy. It’s too many loops and hurts my head every time I glance at it, like someone was trying to hard to hit that ‘graceful’ goal. But as I always say, this is just my personal belief.

As for the Tears, Time, and Love critique–um, yeah…more confused than ever. Maybe it is perhaps since I’m reading a movie versus listening to someone tell me about it, I cannot grasp all of the great points that was listed. A movie is something that I have to see rather than hear about and honestly, I’m not into romance movies. Too gushy and no bloodshed, but putting my personal feelings to the side, I will state that what had me confused the most is when the author was listing many examples of how the director used time over the course of the movie. To me, there seemed to be TOO many instances and if I were to watch the movie, I probably wouldn’t catch it all. I understand that as a critic you must look deep into the work and not just focus on the top layer. But me personally, an artwork, movie, or design is something that I first have to experience before chipping away at the underlying meaning. To give proper critique you must first look at it as a user. For this movie, I would first watch it then give my critique, but seeing all of these symbolisms and hidden messages, it would turn me off, especially if I have keep in mind about many of them I spot out. Also, I agree with Brunette about the hidden motif when he said,

“…his specific political microreadings of the various relationships and characters seem, as usual, rather strained and unconvincing.”

The argument about having a political subtext withing this movie does not seem to stand out much. There doesn’t have to be a big neon sign saying ‘THIS IS WHAT WE’RE TRYING TO DO’. Something as simple as the characters doing or saying certain things that spoke of the political standpoint that the director had could get the point out. People are too focused in finding all these symbols with time that perhaps they cannot focus on the stance.

Weird articles, but at least I was entertained!!

On Friday morning I found a funny thing on Our very own Erik Stolterman’s book for quite a few pennies over what I’d seen before…


I am a little bit short on blog posts, so I am going to attempt to explain to you all how we can tell “Almond Branch Books” out of  “New Hampton, NY” didn’t read Erik’s book, because from the one chapter I have read, this is the opposite of desiderata. It should be known, before we begin, this business is either A) incredibly typo prone, as all of their books listed are several hundred dollars, B) very bad appraising books (no offense to Erik) or C) laundering funds through a phony company. (After conversations with a friend who works at HPB, it looks like C is common and unfortunately, after a book is in someone’s possession they can charge whatever they want).

Desiderata includes aesthetics, ethics, and reason, or what we intend the world to be. Almond Branch Book’s (ABB) service design model is the design I will be critiquing. The company’s “felt need” to change of the listed book price to a grossly inflated number they desire is what Stolterman and Nelson refer to as a “dead end” as opposed to “next best steps”. They have dead ended themselves away from legitimate customers and entered into what can only be assumed as illegal activities in plain sight. “That-which-is-desired” or desireata is none of their concern.

The authors of The Design Way are wise. They know “desires are not all good… Over time, we learn to discipline the negative desires and live out the positive ones.” Possibly not enough time has passed for ABB to understand the difference between negative desire and positive ones. It would be a good idea for them to open the book of which they sell.

Later in the chapter, the authors state: “A created need is an imposed desire […] It is preformed and impressed upon a person in their role as consumer or end user, through persuasion or manipulation.” ABBs service design model is a clear manipulation of the online marketplace. The need for the book is obviously not successfully imposed on consumers, however if they were a laundering front, they are intending to look as though they do good business by blending into an online marketplace. A pedestrian consumer is definitely being performed and impressed upon.

The people of ABB should reconsider their service design model and actually get into an honest business. Hey, maybe they could actually sell books. As Stolterman and Nelson state: “…rather than allow our various problems to run our lives, we would be wise to approach the world from a design perspective and look to our desiderata for direction in our approach to intentional change.” The path to legitimacy is possible. If they desire to make more money than booksellers, they should look at their desire to make money and design an ethical  solution to their problem.

Here is the seller’ s page: Also, it should be known that is much like Amazon, individual sellers manage their own pages. I happen to love HPB stores and this post should not be mistaken as a stab at them as a business.



Dr. Puterschein, “noted typeface and typographic critic”, writes his criticisms for designers. The first clue is the nature of the text itself and the dead give away is the “Ratings Key” he utilizes.

In the text, Puterchien reviews the typefaces by leaving their functional nature behind and personifying the letters. I thought I might like to see the reviews written in the typeface they were describing, but letting Puterschein guides your imagination and the passages becomes a delightful game. In fact, I don’t believe the review would have been effective if he did this. By separating the typeface from the function, Puterschein makes the reader reflect, squint their eyes at formal details, and consider the typeface beyond being a vehicle for language.

The ratings key above is laden with design metaphors and insider information. First, the mention of Garamond and Matthew Carter as common knowledge assumes this is not the readers first brush with typography. Next, he assumes the reader will respect type enough to pay money for it, something only designers who have budgets for such things would do. Lastly, and possibly the biggest give away, is how he uses the point values as his rating system. The designers reading this can imagine the hierarchical differences of the pt. values in their minds because Puterschein is speaking their language.

It is not the point of this class to be experts on typography or Hong Kong cinema–but to be critical in your design thinking.

I included these two writings as things for you to read as writers, for you to model your own critical practices on.

Things to note as writers:

  • What is the structure of a critical piece?
  • What conclusions are drawn?
  • What are the central claims being made?
  • Who is the audience for these articles, and how are they supposed to use these articles?
  • How does this contrast with scientific writing, e.g., the writeup of an empirical study?

Things to note as critical thinkers:

  • What sorts of evaluations are made? What values and dis-values are identified? (Also: descriptions, classifications, elucidations, etc.)
  • What sorts of details are pointed to as evidence?
  • What kind of background, contextual, historical, and other scholarly information is available to the critics, and how do they leverage it?