MoMa curator Paola Antonelli unveils her “thinkering” concept

Paola Antonelli on how design should be more about critical thinking than problem solving.
Moma curator
MoMa curator Paola Antonelli unveils her “thinkering” concept

American Institute of Architecture, San Francisco recently hosted MoMa curator Paola Antonelli at their NEXT conference this past November. In her speech, Antonelli introduced a new concept called, “thinkering,” which she explains is a combination of design thinking and tinkering that involves strategic disruption, realistic application and maker experimentation.

Antonelli used the concept as a starting point from which to rethink design for the 21st century. She feels that for design to be truly effective it should be used as a tool for complex, critical thinking as opposed to problem solving. In order to use design in a positive and impactful way, Antonelli asks that we think of design as a form of activism.

The curator listed examples of various new technologies and breakthroughs in biomimetics such as MIT MediaLab’s The Silk Pavilion, which explores the relationship between digital and biological fabrication in product and architectural design. In the project, scientists invented an algorithm based on nature to create a pavilion made out of a single piece of thread.

Antonelli also suggests that we consider design’s potential as a political vehicle to engage and build empathy. In her book "Design and Violence", she emphasises design’s power to create consequences, good and bad. Based on this, Antonelli asks how we can be “responsible stewards of design” to make sure that it is used for positive impact, especially in this era of advanced technology.