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Sarah Edmands Martin

Assistant Professor of Visual Communication Design, University of Notre Dame

Sarah Edmands Martin

Sarah Edmands Martin reimagines the ways social and civic systems distribute and exercise power within contemporary, mediated spaces. She is a 2024 Fulbright Scholar, a 2023 Design Fellow at Chicago's Writing Space, a 2021 Research Fellow at Indiana University’s Institute for Digital Arts + Humanities, and a 2020 Design Incubation Fellow in New York City. Her writing appears in Ethics in Design and Communication (2020), Eye on Design, and the forthcoming Digital Transformation in Design (2023). Her work has been recognized by PRINT, Graphis, Paris Design Awards, London International Creative, and Creative Communication Awards.

The Design Apparatus in Action

Education Symposium

August 25, 2023

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM

Breakout - Majestic

Presenting with James Rudolph

Design thinking is the pervasive discourse of design culture: The principles, the language, and the tools of design thinking dominate design pedagogy, process, and academic dialog. Similarly, the discourse has penetrated academic disciplines ranging from business to engineering to the social sciences. A close analysis of the literature reveals a telling result: we are largely saying the same thing. While this converging philosophical trajectory may appear to some to be a positive transcendence towards creating a stable, accepted body of knowledge, the results provide reason for concern. Design culture has not only disenfranchised members of its own community (Bethune, 2022), but has led to static, clichéd aesthetic paradigms. We hypothesize there may be additional reasons for concern, not yet fully understood.

To further explore these challenges, we turn to philosophy and work of Paul-Michel Foucault. According to Foucault, we must step outside the prevalent discourse to evaluate the true nature of being – the way things are, the ‘apparatus’ in action. We propose an interactive visual analysis of design culture – the contextual eco-system surrounding the things we say – to develop a collective understanding of the experience, the environments, the things we design, and the underlying implications of our ‘way of being’ and ‘our way of knowing.’ Through interactive play with visual elements of design we aim to explore the nature of power structures and challenges in design culture today.

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