Critical Inquiry Lab is a two year Masters program at Design Academy Eindhoven that provides students with an environment to develop a design practice driven by artistic research. The department is rooted in cultural analysis and design theory and principally questions the role of design in relation to the structures and systems underpinning our society. Research is not understood as something separate from design, but is design in and of itself. Bound to an artistic position rather than a specific discipline, we understand design and design critique as a cultural signifier and an agent of change.

The program encourages students to foster an inquisitive attitude and question the role of design in relation to the (historical) constructs underpinning contemporary society and how they resonate within local and global contexts. Critical Inquiry Lab holds a broad understanding of how research can translate or resonate into different curatorial practices and cultural methods, strategic actions and editorial positions. Over the course of two years students acquire skills such as writing, editing, curating, podcasting, publishing, performing, coding, mediating and developing strategic actions. The development of (research) methodologies, finding one’s voice, skills and tools in the context for design as research and its materialization, dissemination and publication are key.
            “Operating within the complexities of contemporary society requires a fundamental understanding of the designed environment and the codes embedded within them,” explains Saskia Van Stein, Head of  Critical Inquiry Lab. “This understanding enables meaningful contribution, agential entry points, and the ability to alter the current status quo. A growing awareness of the complexities of these visible and invisible systems—society’s ethical codes and constructs in language, technology, and power relations—is critical in creating a more equitable and inclusive future.” *
          Critical Inquiry Lab welcomes participants from any professional background who want to question and unpack the world around them. Students will embark on both individual and collective learning trajectories. A core part of the course is the student-led organization of (semi-)public events, which contribute to conversations through the lens of design, addressing both the design community and the world beyond. In their second year, students will select a research domain to guide them towards a final project and a thesis, which can take a wide variety of forms. Students are actively encouraged to be experimental in their research, design and approach of making their works public.
            Critical Inquiry Lab is a transdisciplinary design course, which aims to foster in-depth critical studies of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nation, and citizenship. The teaching team’s diversity and guidance reflect this aim.

*Quote taken from interview with Nadine Botha

CIL Graphic Identity by Irene Straccuzzi

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