1. Formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward and which usually ends with a vote.
  2. Argument about a particular subject, especially one in which many people are involved.


  1. Argue about (a subject), especially in a formal manner.

A debate is not the same as a dialogue. Whereas a dialogue can be seen as a conversation or discussion directed towards the exploration of a particular subject, enabling an understanding of different approaches or opinions, and the development of a collective point of view, a debate is more often concerned with challenging perspectives, and arguing for and against a particular vision, often with the aim of converting others to that point view. At Design Academy Eindhoven, debating is one of the tools used to train a critical attitude towards social, technological or economic developments. In both the bachelor’s and the master’s programmes, new models, strategies and products that could play a decisive role in the development and transformation of society, are both created and debated. In this way design exhibits the capacity to instigate, facilitate or moderate (public) discussions on the (socio-cultural) implications of complex technological innovations and societal transitions, before they actually happen.

One of the ways in which designers debate the implications of different (technological) futures is to situate new (technological) developments within imaginary, yet plausible, everyday situations. By drawing up scenarios that visualise possible futures, thus making them tangible, designers are able to provoke, criticise, and reveal alternatives and their respective consequences. The goal of this storytelling method is first and foremost to raise questions rather than look for solutions. In this way debating can be used as a political tool. Critical designer James Auger, argues that critical designers need to curate or craft debates and discussions, thus engaging policy makers, scientists, publics, and others in the process of transformation.

When searching the web on the topic of design and debate, one is likely to encounter the work of Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby. Dunne coined the term ‘critical design’ in his thesis, Hertzian Tales (1999), and he and his partner Fiona Raby, use it in their design and their educational practices to promote a critical, problem-finding position from which to create designs for debate. The labels, ‘speculative design’ and ‘design fictions’ are two other dominant and well-established tags for related practices that have developed over the last fifteen years.

DAE examples

  • Eugenie de la Riviere, On Design Education, Graduation project Master Contextual Design, 2013

Mike Thompson & Arne Hendriks, FATBERG, Lecturers at DAE, ongoing project