Tuesday 12pm, 17 February 2015

James pierce

Between Products and Proposals: Designing Things that Discourse

James Pierce

PhD Student - Carnegie Mellon University


James is currently working in the Berkeley Center for New Media at UC Berkeley, while finishing his PhD in Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. His work combines designerly modes of imagination and production with critical traditions from philosophy of technology and cultural studies. James leads research and design projects on a range of topics including sustainable energy systems, everyday consumption practices, the materiality of electricity, counterfunctional devices, digital disconnectivity, and design theory.


The value of design is often understood in terms of its ability to solve problems and realize solutions. Yet some design is more concerned with questioning, critiquing, articulating issues and proposing radical alternatives. Typically operating outside of commercial contexts, these design works tend to exhibit a tension or ambiguity between being products and proposals, concepts and things, imaginary and real. I argue that these ambiguities and tensions between aspiring to be a successful commercial product while resisting becoming one are a key means of asserting and maintaining their discursive and conceptual utility.