The Art of Critique

Over the past three years, the practice of synchronous, live critique (whether in person or virtual) has become a lost skill — especially as more teams have opted for asynchronous feedback and the distinction between meeting types has become blurred. Some companies also continue to merge non-design functions into Design orgs, which has exacerbated an underlying issue: that most don’t provide the frameworks necessary to facilitate effective critique. Unfortunately, the lack of training and resources means that most critiques are poorly managed, causing teams to feel discouraged or overwhelmed. Critiques should be motivating, not intimidating. Since we’re all natural critics in many aspects of our lives already, the purpose is not to teach the audience something they don’t already know… Rather, it is to help them build on a practice with which they already have competence. In order for critique to be truly embedded into a company’s culture, it needs to be modeled by leadership and exercised on an ongoing basis as a collaborative ritual. Peer critique, if done well, can be a valuable tool that has the power to improve the quality of work in progress. And if critical thinking is tapped into correctly, it can turn a critique into a mutual investigation on the work’s form, functionality, narrative lens, cultural representation, and creative capacities. This workshop will provide the audience with a prelude, rules, and tools so that they can discover (or re-discover) how to run constructive critiques that combine aesthetic proficiency with intellectual rigor.

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