Blog

One of our owners is a frequent contributor on Medium, writing about the impact design has on our culture and society, as well as sharing advice related to design practice and education.

We’ve collected her design-specific writing below. Please follow her on Medium to read all of her content.



+5 for a Useless Critique

This cartoon has been hanging outside my office door since 2006. Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, 2006. Criticism, or critique, is a well accepted practice in design*: designers cycle (or iterate) through making-thinking-remaking, until they become reasonably satisfied with the emergent result, or they run out of time and energy (hopefully the former). At key intervals within this process, designers seek feedback on their work, usually from colleagues, classmates, superiors and, sometimes, from clients and others.**In their …

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7 Pieces of Advice to Graduating Design Students

2001. Somewhere past Thunder Bay. In 2001, I quit my 50k job* working as an interface designer for Canada’s 1st interactive tv provider — iMagic TV in Saint John, New Brunswick — to start a grad degree at the University of Alberta. My boyfriend and I drove our trailor-pulling, AC-less Toyota Echo across the country, stopping only in Montreal, Thunder Bay, and Winnipeg. I hated Edmonton on sight. I started my first day of grad school by meeting the supervising …

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Happy Students, Reading on Lawns

In 2001, I was an MDes student at the University of Alberta. Having worked as a web designer previous to my switch to Academia, and thanks to the digital bewilderment of my professors, I got the gig of redesigning the University of Alberta’s Department of Art & Design web site. At that time, the U of A wasn’t yet as particular about its brand or as adamant to control every line of its code, and Art & Design was …

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Questioning Design: a strategy for the 21st century

In his 1973 edition of Design for the Real World, Victor Papanek calls out advertising designers for persuading “people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have”, and industrial designers for creating unsafe, unnecessary, “tawdry idiocies” to be “hawked by advertisers”. Papanek pulls no punches, accusing design of putting “murder on the level of mass production”. As evidence he points to the industrial process and product-use that create exorbitant waste material, pollute our …

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But First, What is Design?

In 2014, Susan G. Komen partnered with Baker Hughes, a leader in hydraulic fracturing equipment, to raise breast cancer awareness among (mostly male) oil field workers. Baker Hughes donated $100,000 to the Foundation, then painted 1000 drill bits used in fracking the specific shade of pink trademarked by Susan G. Komen. Given the carcinogenic nature of fracking chemicals, the cost involved in painting pink these many drill bits, and the cost of the Baker Hughes’ …

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