Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby at CERN

Designers Dunne & Raby to explore ‘Quantum Commonsense’ at CERN

02 Nov 2022
Guest Artists

How can quantum concepts and processes affect our ways of making sense of the world?

For decades, the design duo Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby have been using design as a medium to stimulate discussion amongst designers, industry and the public about the social, cultural and ethical implications of existing and emerging technologies. 

They pioneered and popularised critical design, referring to an attitude toward design rather than a movement or method. It uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions and preconceptions of the role products play in everyday life. Leading design departments at the Royal College of Art in London and now at The New School in New York, their work has significantly shaped a generation of Western design thinking.

Inspired by the space where science and philosophy meet, their current work ‘Quantum Commonsense’ – as an oxymoron – seeks to use design to bring into conversation two seemingly disconnected worlds. ‘What might happen if quantum concepts and metaphors begin to underpin everyday ways of making sense of the world expressed through actions, gestures, language, sayings, customs, mindsets, images, and objects?’, the designers pose.

One of these areas of knowledge is concerned with paradoxes that challenge how we make sense of the world and even what the ‘world’ is. The other is a conceptual toolbox for navigating daily life, aligned with how the designers believe the world works. Rather than making analogies between the quantum and design worlds, they aim to look for ways that prompt further imagining and thought.


Through their encounters with theoretical and experimental physicists, they want to ‘gain insights into CERN’s research that challenges commonsense notions of space, time, matter and life.’ Their interest in the history and use of thought experiments in science and philosophy will bring them to dive into several experimental sites to explore ‘machines that combine extremely abstract ideas with concrete materiality.’


The Guest Artists programme invites artists from around the world for a short stay at CERN to explore further ideas around art and physics. The Guest Artists programme does not accept speculative applications.