Ramia Mazé (2012) 'A Critical Practice', in M. Zimm (ed.), The Swedish Museum of Architecture: A fifty year perspective. Stockholm: The Swedish Museum of Architecture, 158-160. ISBN 978-91-85460-88-5

"...For those that consume design – that is, for all of us – environmental sustainability requires us to question what we produce and consume as a society, and how we impact others and future generations. For those of us that are designers – and often seen as part of the problem within discussions of sustainable development – we need to ask questions about what and how we design. These questions are at stake within design discourse today and in my own work as a designer, researcher and educator, motivating me to query design’s role in sustainable and societal development. To take this question a step further here: we might ask, whether we should design at all?

This was the question at stake nearly half a century ago for a number of movements within design. Various names for such movements, such as ‘Anti-Design’, ‘Non-Plan’ and ‘Radical Design’ indicate a critique of design, planning and architecture... As to the question of whether to design – such examples refused the conventional role of design in society. Radical designers mounted a critique of their own design discipline and of a societal status quo. However, rather than debate articles or academic analyses, their critique took the form of design. These were not conventional or even functional design forms – as buildings and furniture, their forms may be useless, impractical, unbuildable and unliveable. As critiques, debates, or analyses, these are not intended to be built and used, or produced and consumed, in a conventional way. The point is, in fact, to construct and inhabit a conceptual space in which the current organization of society and alternatives may be debated, paradigms of production and consumption in which design is implicated...

...Looking ahead to the next 50 years – we need to be able to relate to others, alternatives and futures that may be radically different than us, here and now. Today, a multitude of socially and politically-engaged designers are taking on such issues, in which an unsustainable status quo or possible futures are queried in light of climate and resource issues, diversity and dissensus, gender and socio-economic inequities. Spanning ‘paper architecture’, design activism, social and policy design, and many other forms of practice, this is rapidly growing beyond a minority within architectural and design disciplines – and the questions raised are relevant to the 99% of society. As in Radical Design, criticality does not have to end in polemics, in utopias or dystopias, but in giving form to critical questions: Which – or who’s – interests should be represented in design and society? Who benefits – and who profits? What might be alternatives and futures? Who designs these futures, for whom? Reaching beyond the typically private spheres of industrial production and consumption, the potential is to mobilize reflection in the public realm..." (excerpts)