Training Students to Critically Assess a Design Rhetoric

DS 62: Proceedings of E&PDE 2010, the 12th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education - When Design Education and Design Research meet ..., Trondheim, Norway, 02.-03.09.2010

Year: 2010
Editor: Boks W; Ion, W; McMahon, C and Parkinson B
Author: Howell, Bryan
Page(s): 550-555


yle platitudes that express how the product makes them feel, such as “that’s so cool.” This paper proposes a method of teaching students how to critically assess the rhetorical, or persuasive, nature of design and compose a meaningful, written narrative about it. Students who embrace this method will consistently and meaningfully move beyond style platitudes when discussing
design. They will begin to communicate the design’s rhetoric. The assessment method is framed by the product design selection criteria for an exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) which was directed by Paola Antonelli during the winter of 2007/8. The selection criteria are composed of the following: 1- Form and Meaning, 2- Function and Meaning,3- Innovation, 4- Cultural Impact, 5- Process, 6- Necessity. Using examples provided by the MoMA exhibit and from Antonelli’s book Humble Masterpieces, students research, contemplate, discuss, analyze and write about how designs communicate. This paper will deconstruct and discuss MoMA’s six design selection criteria. It will show how to use Antonelli’s framework to help students to intelligently discuss design. It will provide examples of both MoMA and student writing to demonstrate how the framework is utilized.

Keywords: Design rhetoric, cool, critical, design, MoMA


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