Climactic:Post Normal Design Exhibit Project


Class Project Description: Post-Critical Design

These projects were developed over a course of 4 weeks in Fall 2016 semester for Speculative Critical Design class run by Deepa Butoliya at School of Design, CMU.


Speculative Critical Design (SCD) helps us question the role objects and systems play in everyday life. A contemporary criticism of SCD is that it fails to take into account what everyday life means for people in different cultural and socioeconomic conditions. The objects and systems shown in such speculations are often narrowly defined in their outreach and result in speculations that are overly focused on narratives of a privileged western world. They fail to capture the disparities of the human condition prevalent in large parts of the world. In this regard, SCD limits perception of design by the general public rather than pushing boundaries of the field.


The students were assigned to envision a project for the exhibition where their works are currently exhibited as examples of Post Normal turn in Speculative Critical Design. The brief was to create a scenario/artifact under one of the three themes of the exhibition:

  • Decoloniality and crisis of race and culture
  • Speculative Anything
  • Climate change in  Global south and global north


Aspects to consider:

In the beginning of the semester, the class was extensively reading and discussing the debates around Speculative Critical Design and researched the criticisms of the SCD. The students were asked to consider the criticisms and reflect their response in the projects.

Another aspect was to consider the flaws in the current systems and reflect the critique of those systems through their artifacts as practiced in everyday life.

The projects should have the essential elements of Critical Design, for example, it should have a strong critique embedded in the artifact. There should be a balance between the narrative, ambiguity, and rationale (Matt Malpass)


For this class, students were invited to create Speculative Critical Design projects that consider the implications of their speculations on everyday life and include those who suffer the consequences of producing SCD artifacts. Students were asked to design artifacts that question white privilege while designing for issues of the everyday when it is modified by climate change. These concepts were developed in the framework of post critical design through which the instructor punctuated critical design practice to remake it as a plural, inclusive, action-oriented field of design practice.



Rachel Chang

We all Scream

As part of an increasingly militarized police force in civilian communities, drones are becoming a regular presence in America’s airspace. Originally an object of invisibility, this design proposes to repurpose drones to double as an ice cream trucks, thus making drones into objects of hyper-visibility that drop sweet treats and sedate the general public while keeping tabs on our activities.


Rachel is currently pursuing a degree in Communication Design at Carnegie Mellon University. She is interested in exploring how design constructs and abstracts meaning.

Linna Griffin

Home ReSource

Sustainability has always been the keystone of Tesla Motor’s mission statement. Recently the company changed its statement to encompass sustainable energy as well as the realm of transportation. This shift has led to the release of new products such as the ‘Power Wall’ and the new ‘Solar Roof’; which signifies a move by Tesla into the market of home goods, with a focus on homeowners. However, despite the emphasis that Tesla places on sustainable practices, their cars are not completely sustainable by virtue of the precious metals that are used to create them. The aluminum body of a Tesla vehicle itself generates roughly six times its own weight in red mud, a waste byproduct of aluminum mining.

To expand on sustainable mining practices, Home ReSource is a line of designer home furnishings made from the waste by-products of the aluminum, copper, and lithium. By recycling this waste into a form of consumer goods, Tesla cars would leave less of an ecological footprint and allow the company to further their reach into the home goods market. While the products are fictional, Home ReSource is a speculative future of the company’s development through a critical view of ‘sustainable’ vehicles.


Linna is a Senior Industrial Design Student from New Jersey. Since coming to Carnegie Mellon to study design, she has focused on creating sustainable design solutions for the betterment of the planet. One day she hopes to work for Tesla.

Verena Fienjan Vredeveld

BIZAR catalog 2050

BIZAR catalog 2050 releases the newest fashion trends with which to survive a nuclear winter through genetic manipulation of the body and via DIY design trends that reduce human vulnerability. Such future technologies will transform our bodies, and partially eliminate our familiar and trusted organs, in order to survive Earth’s changed atmosphere and prepare our bodies for space travel. Recognizing that these options will be accessible only for privileged elites who can afford them, this future scenario responds to the optimistic view regarding genetic modification but questions the ethical implications of reinforcing social divisions through such expensive technologies.


Verena Vredeveld is an Industrial Design student at the Technical University of Eindhoven. She is studying Product Design at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design for the Fall 2016 semester. She has always been interested in how people differentiate themselves through their clothing because fashion is such an effective communicator of personal expression. She is exploring how can we alter our bodies to take self-expression to the next level by means of genetic modification.  

Ji Soo Hwang

The Frackalypse

The urban population lives in a frackalypse, an apocalypse created by the aftermaths of fracking. On a daily basis, urban residents deal with the environmental hazards of fracking, including a methane-fille atmosphere, contaminated water, absence of sunlight and limited vegetation growth. In order to survive in a frackalyptic climate, every individual needs to carefully plan daily activities to minimize exposure to environmental hazards. Due to extreme weather conditions, the majority of the year is dedicated to preparing for and recovering from extreme seasons. Individuals closely monitor their health via daily measurement of their physical condition. The constant self-monitoring leads to an obsession with planning for survival. At the same time, organized groups continue to fight the fracking industry and address the problem rather than the symptoms. Yet in general terms, the majority of the population have adjusted to the new lifestyle, which revolves around avoiding problems of the frackalyptic environment.


Vicky Hwang is an Industrial Design student studying at Carnegie Mellon University. With a focus on product design and design research, she continues to expand her study to develop her design process. Lately, she has been working on several speculative critical design projects.

Justin Finkenaur


The purpose of this piece is to illustrate the relationship between mining and our digital devices. My hope as the designer is to shed light on the exploitation of people from around the world in the manufacture of smartphones. Viewers of this poster are encouraged to follow the link at the bottom to learn more about how mining is connected to manufacturing smartphone technology.


Justin is interested in designing products that help people navigate complex systems and environments. He believes a well-designed user experience requires not just designers, but also experts in areas such as business and engineering. Justin enjoys team projects and strongly supports multidisciplinary collaboration. He is currently studying product design at Carnegie Mellon University as well as pursuing courses in Interaction Design.

Charles Van De Zande

New Cake Flavors 2043

New Cake Flavors is an advertisement set in the year 2043- not too far away. The earth has warmed quite a bit, and plants from the tropical zone no longer survive naturally. Because of nutrient-rich soil, and incredible bio-diversity, tropical plants have intricate flavor profiles. As the climate changes, many enjoyable experiences will no longer commonly exist, such as tasting tropical fruits. As new experiences become limited, what behaviors and tastes will develop? If new experiences do not come often, will the perception of time change? New Cake Flavors asks the audience to bid now (for what?), so mundane experiences do not soon become uncommon.


Ty Van de Zande is a screen printer from Raleigh North Carolina and is the third year in the Environments Design track. His interests include craft industries, and the use of technology to enhance expression and interest among others. He is concerned about the limitations of human experience that may occur in the near future.

Kaleb Crawford

Pocket Guide to Micro Eco Terrorism  

The Pocket Guide to Micro Eco Terrorism is a zine and an ode to the eco-punk subculture (that never was) designed to challenge the branding of contemporary environmentalism as a ‘green movement’ based on the tenets of self-righteousness, unity, and love of the planet. The zine proposes an alternate lens that frames sustainability as a DIY, disruptive, demonstration. Drawing its name from the FBI classification of historically violent eco-activist groups including ELF (Earth Liberation Front) as “Eco-Terrorism”, Micro Eco Terrorism proposes feasible everyday interventions that allow an individual to easily weaponize their surroundings, and provide ecological protection.


Kaleb Crawford is a senior Communication Design major who likes the idea of having a succulent garden but doesn’t actually own any succulents. Whenever he uses a public computer, he changes the wallpaper to an image of a forest. He’s passionate about preserving the environment but sees much of modern environmentalism as a capitalist commodification of nature.  He believes it strips away much of what makes it actually worth saving, reducing it to leaf logos, outstretched hands, and the color green. Kaleb wonders what else environmentalism might look like when it caters to different cultures and subcultures, and how we can use design to cultivate a more genuine appreciation of the planet.


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