Interview // Speculative and Critical Design Summer School
In July 2016, Programme Director Ben Stopher and Course Leader of BA (Hons) Information and Interface Design Tobias Revell will be leading a Speculative and Critical Design Summer School short course exploring speculative and critical design.
We caught up with Ben to find out a little more about the course, what it offers, and who it’s aimed at.
Ben, this course initially sounds quite specialist. Is there a particular type of person who this Summer School would work best for?
“This course is really well suited to someone like a design professional looking to update their ways of working, methods and understanding. Speculative and critical design is a key part of the contemporary design landscape, but perhaps it didn’t exist as a distinct thing when they went through their design education.
“The Summer School will introduce them to new practitioners, new tools and new ideas that will refresh their creative practice. Alternatively, a current PhD student looking to extend their methods into speculative and critical design would be really well placed to be a part of the Summer School.”
Can you speak a little about the structure of the course?
“The exciting thing about this course is that it’s two weeks to come and work in London, meet some really interesting practitioners working at the cutting edge of their field, work with new methods and produce something.
“During the first week all the guest critics come in, and in the second week you will be working on speculative prototypes. You will also exhibit work at the end of the two weeks in an exhibition. It’s going to be a very intense and hands-on way of working.
Are there any specific areas or themes that will be covered in the Summer School?
“Yes, the course has three key themes: infrastructure and systems, the anthropocene and network politics.
“Infrastructure and systems is really exploring how the deployment of design at a wide scale interacts and builds the infrastructure and systems that define our contemporary life. Speculative and critical design is a way to interrogate the effect of these systems on society and look at the future trajectory of those things.
“The anthropocene looks at that on a macro scale. This is a geological age where the primary force changing the world is human beings. We’ll look at planetary scales through human actions and what that means in a design context – how do you understand design’s role in that age?
“Network politics is really about the new social imperatives that any hyper-connective world gives rise to. The internet of things, and the human consequences on a wide scale for societies and economies in general. The dissolution of national borders, cryptocurrency, the legality of data – all of those live issues around what the network really means for design.
“On this course you can work between those themes, explore and actually produce whilst engaging in and creating design fictions.”
At the end of the Summer School what can people hope to have learnt?
“By the end of the two weeks you will have a concrete and critical understanding of the field of speculative and critical design, its methods, key practices and central principles. You’ll be able to conduct future-facing design research and ideation and be able to create demonstrative design fiction projects that communicate complex design, technological and socio-cultural ideas.”