The Art of Critique

Vinita Israni

Much like agile project management, critique in design school is an iterative and recursive process that happens as the product is being created. Setting things in front of people and asking for feedback helps to better frame the problem as well last the solution.

When asked about her thoughts on critique, Nema Rao, a second-year MDes student who teaches Communication Design Fundamentals, said, “especially in design, the work has to speak for itself. If you’re working on a project singularly without anyone looking at it, how do you know how it’s going to be interpreted when it’s set into the real world? How do you know what you have created is actually going to serve the community that you’ve created it for?"

As we learn to iterate and get feedback in design school, the practice of critique becomes a central part of the process. Critique is a method to not only pivot projects but get better insights into how the project is interpreted. Students learn to not only receive but also give critique.

When giving critique it is important to find out the reason behind the thinking, constraints, or other variables and to show an interest about the process. Talking about strengths, as well as weaknesses of the project helps the designer understand what they are doing right and wrong. On the flip side, receiving critique takes patience and understanding to listen  and speak back constructively, not defensively. For both parties it is important to think before speaking, remembering that everyone is on an equal playing field, and setting some expectations for what the intent of the critique is. Creating a safe environment to practice critique creates better collaboration as well. Much like everything, critique is a skill and only gets better with practice. 

More resources on design critique can be found at : Discussing Design







Date Published: 
Tuesday, January 27, 2015