My current work at AiTech (TU Delft) focuses on the relationship between design and narrative. These sharea long history and research on their relationship has been recently growing. Yet, investigations on how popular narratives affect a designer’s reasoning and design processes are still lacking. Understanding this, however, is crucial to mitigate the risks associated with unconsciously reinforcing popular beliefs and dominant approaches to innovation. To address this issue, I suggest to look at critical design artefacts and their narrativity. In fact, artefacts can be purposely crafted to express and emphasize the constructs and beliefs embedded into popular narratives, and as such they can be used to engage in debate with the audience. Artefacts crafted with this narrative intent can be interpreted as Embodied Manifestos and they are not new to the design discipline, for instance Archizoom Associati radical furniture can be interpreted as manifesto of a cultural revolution that was happening in Italy in the seventies in clear opposition to the dominant narrative of the modernist and rationalist movements. The novelty of acknowledging such artefacts as manifestations of beliefs lies in their potential pragmatic use: critical design artefacts can be shaped to raise awareness on dominant narratives and suggest alternatives, both in research and education. To this end, designers should learn to act as external narrators; artefacts should be crafted as narrative alternatives not statement pieces; and design knowledge should be co-constructed with the audience. When these conditions are met, Embodied Manifestos have the potential to support designers in critically shaping future products and to enrich the body of narratives we can design with.
I am currently developing a first case study of Research through Embodied Manifestos for exploring narratives of driving automation and enabling an analysis of ethical reasoning about it. This project is being developed in collaboration with Elisa Giaccardi (IDE TU Delft), David Abbink (3ME TU Delft), Luciano Cavalcante Siebert (EWI TU Delft) and Ibo van de Poel (TPM TU Delft).