Instructor: Laura Allcorn

Two Thursday evenings, One Saturday

Thursday, March 7th, 2019, 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Thursday, March 14th, 2019, 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019, 10:00am - 4:00pm

This workshop series explores Critical Design, a speculative practice that challenges narrow assumptions and sparks debate about the future we do and do not want. We’ll ask ‘what if?’ and take aim at emerging technologies and policies.

Expressions of Critical Design often manifest as objects, photographs, videos, or short publications. The best examples use satire and force viewers to use their imagination and intellect to make sense of what they see. In this workshop series, you’ll explore definitions, approaches, and examples across a variety of mediums. By the end of the series, you’ll have learned exercises and tools to help you conceptualize a Critical Design piece and will have a lo-fi prototype that puts your new skills into practice.

Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby, perhaps the most well-know practitioners, offer this set of Critical Design FAQs.

Session 1: What is Critical Design? (3 hours)

In this workshop, you’ll participate in an interactive lecture that explores the basics of critical design: What is it? What is it used for? Who’s done it well?

Session 2: How can I practice Critical Design? (3 hours)

In this workshop, you’ll practice making your own critical design piece about an absurdity you’d like to draw attention to in the world. You’ll complete a series of exercises that give you tools to guide your critical design thought process and ultimately develop a concept you can prototype in the final workshop. By the end of the class, you will have created a concept description and sketch of how you will bring it to life in the final workshop.

Between week 2 and 3, the instructor will review your concept description and proposed medium for execution, and offer suggestions, references, or questions to contemplate to refine your idea for creating a low-fi prototype in the final workshop. Prior to week 3, you will be expected to gather materials, props, costumes, or produce any design elements necessary to create a low-fi prototype in the final workshop.

Session 3: Make a piece of Critical Design (Studio session, 6 hours)

In this workshop studio session, you’ll get hands-on in the MTC lab to make an object, photograph, publication, etc. You’ll quickly make a lo-fi prototype of your Critical Design piece. The instructor will be on-hand for in the moment feedback, suggestions, and motivation to complete your prototype. In the final hour you’ll present your piece to the class. We’ll discuss each piece: what’s working and what could be improved in your next iteration.

Who should take this? Artists, designers, and makers of all stripes; activists; and comedians/satirists who want to take their work off the page or stage.

Prerequisites: Workshop participants should be comfortable with critical and conceptual thinking as well as hands-on making. Participants can lean on their medium of choice for the final studio prototype: sculpture, industrial design, photography, video, graphic design, architecture, etc.

Materials: For lectures and studio, a notebook and your favorite writing implement.

For studio, you will be expected to purchase and bring supplies in the medium of your choice.

We have a limited number of scholarships for our workshops. If you need an application, please send an email to with your complete name and contact information.

If you need academic credits for the workshops, please contact