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Interpretive traditions in design?

Time: Fri 2024-03-01

Participating: Gabrielle Benabdallah and Daniela Rosner

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This talk examines design epistemologies in two parts. First, we discuss design traditions such as human-centered design, participatory design, critical and speculative design. We zoom in on the critical tradition and its legacy of making things with attention to interpretation, positioning, and structure. Using examples of critical technology practice and critical positioning, we show how speculation depends on who has the capacity to reproduce their own beliefs and colonial visions and how design holds the promise of imagining otherwise. In the second part, we extrapolate on the role of interpretation in material practices such as design and engineering. We share how interpretation, by reorganizing significations and the distribution of perception, plays an important social and political role in the material practices that contribute to today’s (and tomorrow’s) technological landscape. In conclusion, we speculate on how interpretative engagement can be surfaced and formalized in design and engineering practices.

Gabrielle Benabdallah is a PhD candidate in Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) at the University of Washington, in Seattle. Her work is at the intersection of systems research, interaction design and philosophy. She is interested in bridging hermeneutic and engineering traditions by developing design methods to formalize interpretative processes in material practice and systems building.

Daniela Rosner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE) at the University of Washington, co-director of the Tactile and Tactical Design Lab, and co-director of the HCDE Masters Program. She holds adjunct appointments in the Allen School for Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), the Department of Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXArts), and the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies (GWSS). Her work uses methods of design inquiry to examine sites of innovation practice and performance historically overlooked by technology cultures.

Recording of the seminar available here .