a bacehlor level foundation course for teaching critical thinking to design students 


Design Research . Pedagogy


Design Education . Criticial Thinking


Critical Pedagogy . Entangled History . Visual Culture . Teaching . Discursive Objects . Graphic Design




A manifesto and exemplars of six modules of coursework, both housed in a 214 page book . Exhibition


Self-initiated (M.A. Graduation Project)




How to interest design students in critical thinking? Defining it as the ability to unpack assumptions, I present critical thinking as a method of conceptualising ideas. When intertwined with design skills, these ideas evolve into a non-generic portfolio. Entangled is an educational tool that uses students’ desire to stand out as an incentive to circumvent their critical thinking apathy. As its theoretical framework, Entangled uses an interdisciplinary mix of Critical Pedagogy, History, Visual Culture, awareness of Entanglement, Materiality and Discursive Objects.

The tool, delivered as a modular and flexible coursework, repurposes existing design curricula and infrastructures. It includes tasks to enhance perception; a card game to question assumptions; moderated discussions to encourage critical thinking; and finally, examples and assignments to integrate with design practice.

rethinking design
Building Blocks

Short def: Praxis (Activism and Verbalism), Problem Engagement, Critical Thinking
Explainer Video

Progressive Design

Short def: Materiality, Criticality, Entanglement
Explainer Video

progressive design pedagogy

Explainer video highlighting essential features
Diagrams of the Modules

design research
Research Methods

The tool is envisioned as a permutation and recontextualisation of existing solutions. Thus the project has an interdisciplinary soul. As such, the methodology is polyamorous with theories scavenged from unrelated sources. A variety of the following methods were used as part of the design research—literature review, teaching, interviews, attending interdisciplinary workshops, material exploration, museum visits, visual research, and finally attending talks, lectures, conferences, design festivals, and art fairs.

Field Notes

The tool is made up of six modules. When approached in a linear way, the modules introduce critical thinking in incremental steps. The modules can also be used independently of one another and in different sequences. Non linearity ensures the flexibility of the overall tool.

The six modules are—

A Tasks to improve perception and observation skills
B Game with marginal narratives from history to make students aware of entanglements
C Discussions that use visual culture and contemporary topics to unpack assumptions
D Exercises which help students to unpack their own assumptions
E Exemplars of discursive objects for demonstrating the process of critical design practice
F Briefs that require students to integrate critical thinking with design practice


︎ click on the contact sheet for a full-screen view of the images

The manifesto is the theoretical framework of the tool. It is housed along with exemplars of the six modules in a thesis-tool hybrid. The hybrid takes the form of a 214 page book which can be read from both front and back. This hybrid was argued for and presented to the jury at the final presentation who commended it for the detailed research and its innovativeness. Printed on Lessebo 1.3 Rough Ivory 100 g/m2 paper at OK Digitaldruck AG, Zürich. Typeset in Calluna and P22 Underground. To download and read the manifesto pdf (18.8 MB), click here.


︎ click on the contact sheet for a full-screen view of the images

The project was exhibited at the 2019 Diplomausstellung of Zürcher Hochschule der Künste between 07.06. – 21.06.2019. Exhibition scenography: Piera Wolf, Annamaria Kozma, and Jonas Vögeli. Projection: Samuel Weidmann.

Prof. Dr. Sarah Owens . Dr. Björn Franke


Dr. Christine Schranz (External) . Prof. Dr. Klaus Birk (External) . Prof. Dr. Sarah Owens (Internal) . Jonas Vögeli (Internal)

credits Reinhard Schmidt (Editorial Design Guidance) . Patrik Ferrarelli (Editorial Design Guidance) . Lousia Goldman (Ceramics Guidance) . Christa Wyss (Book Binding)

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