Guest lecture: Royal College of Art

New approaches to thinking critically and sustainably about things



This 1-hour guest lecture for the Royal College of Art’s Design Products series “Exploring Emergent Futures” in London was aimed at inspiring MA students to explore new perspectives about digital making practices that were critical, hands-on and research-based – helping their users think both through and with objects to bring about  sustainable lifestyle alternatives.

Different theoretical approaches to machine materiality and creativity were explored, from hacking to social science and “jugaad” to psychogeography, to Actor Network Theory and Material Semiotics, to Situationism and Relational Aesthetics, to Critical Making and Critical Design.

We completed the hour by discussing two questions that had been nagging at me. First, I asked, how can designers better correlate the making of objects with critical reflection about their effects in the world? And second, how can designers engage in sustainable making (both environmental and social) without producing material excesses or disempowering local communities?

Lecture slides are available on Slideshare.