Exploring a Disruptive Design Methodology / by Rae Cooper

As part of my studio research, I am exploring the use of a disruptive design method, created by recent PhD, Leyla Acaroglu. The method is outlined in her downloadable publications, in a great, clear and an 'easy to look at' format - which is a nice change from the text heavy journal article part of my process. 

The goal of this blog is to provide a space to document my experience with this process, leading towards the design of a studio outcome for my Doctor of Visual Arts studio research. My focus is more leaning towards 'positive social change' rather than 'sustainability', however the method's structure can be applied to both.

Here are a few stand-out quotes from her publication:

  • Pushing beyond symptoms, the DD Method is about fostering unconventional approaches to creatively address the systems that led to the origins of the problems.
  • The world is a complex and beautiful chaotic mess of issues and opportunities that are intertwined in ways that can make us humans feel overwhelmed and, often, disabled.
  • Why take a disruptive approach? Because systems need to change. Being a Disruptive Designer is all about  finding ways of reimagining the status quo to make the old obsolete and the new possible, desirable, and sustainable.
  • Most human-designed processes are very linear; they go from one state to another in a straight line that flows from start to  finish. But nothing in nature is like that (and yes, we are part of nature). Thus, we need to embrace a circular, iterative, dynamic approach to the way we explore and intervene in the systems at play in the world around us.

  • ...every problem has an opportunity for change locked within it

I am feeling comfortable in moving to the first stage of the method, which is defining a problem arena. 

The problem area I want to make change in is politics and society. 

The process then requires a research question - which I have already:

How can we use visual communication design as a disruptive force to paradigms of political propaganda? 

These easy 'ticks' make me feel confident that the DD Method is going to streamline the way I work through the rest of my design outcome. Before I move too quickly though, I want to rewind and read more of the text that leads me up to this point (page 38). I feel as though there is a lot of theoretical background - which is great for me, given my position as a designer/researcher. However I am not sure if this is something that my studio colleagues of the past would be willing to absorb. Lots of these big ideas can be a little overwhelming the first time you hear them.

Some reminders to myself for future contemplation:

  • Studio designers, research designers, freelance designers, commercial designers. They don't all work the same. Does a process need to accomodate for that? What do we do about designers who have low theoretical background?
  • What do we do for designers who are bound by a brief or art director? Are they excluded from disruptive design, or is there a way for them to move through the method in a different way? 
  • So much text - not much 'think about your own design' prompts. Is this a text book? Or a resource for my practice? Perhaps I should read this book in conjunction with the other publications.  
  • So far, I like that it takes design as a powerful event and process. I'm happy that there is someone else who speaks a similar language to my 'university practitioner self'. Often I feel a distinct shift from myself as a researcher and myself as a practitioner.  But this book seems to bridge the gap. This is great - but also a red flag - as I know that I don't represent the typical designer.

I look forward to moving forward with this. Overall - feeling positive.