History and Theory Research

Review of 'The Design Culture Reader' 9/10/19

Review of 'The Design Culture Reader' 9/10/19

In this extract there is a strong focus in the way, as individuals, we feel comfortable and safe in the clothing we wear and the spaces we inhabit. In addition there is a focus on how we feel uncomfortable in the clothing and spaces we inhabit due to judgement “we might invest individual objects with all sorts of personal emotional significance” suggesting that what we wear reflects our personalities and our emotions. Just like our homes, what we wear is a way for people to judge us as the extract states “people getting treated with suspicions, abused, beaten up or killed for the clothes they wear”. This mirrors problems society face with homelessness and refugees and the abuse they face daily. Presenting the issue that our homes and clothes, which are supposed to be a space to make us feel comfortable and safe, actually become a place of fear, judgment and danger.

The extract continues to focus on the concept of the hallway in a space and what it really means, especially in different contexts’ and cultures’. “In Western domestic architecture the hall was originally designed to be the main room of the house and the show case of the residents’ wealth” proposing that it’s purpose was to represent status rather than its actual function. The hall also has a function to separate rooms as well as creating a privacy zone for residents “the hall became the intermediate zone to protect the privacy of the residents”.

Furthermore, the extract expresses the contact a visitor has when going into the residents home and how the hallway is a big part of this interaction as it is “a way to prevent or ease transition from the public to the private world” as the hallway is where the polite small talk takes place. Simple questions like ‘Hello’, ‘How are you?’ suggesting in this context the hallway becomes a neutral ground between the host and visitor due to the hallway usually having neural wallpaper, shoes, coats and perhaps some photographs; nothing too personal to the residents. 

The hallway is a key barrier in-between a residents personal life, belongings and how much they want to share with their guests “the hallway has a level of intimacy which allowing for the process of identification, neutralisation and purification.” Presenting the importance of a hallway due to it’s function in easing social encounters, creating privacy and safety; proving that a hallway is much more than a space between rooms. 

Sandy Skoglund

Sandy Skoglund (born 1946) is an American photographer and installation artist. Skoglund often creates surrealist images by creating and staging sets which often takes months to complete. Skoglund then photographs her sets, which often have brightly coloured furniture and live models in. Skoglund is typically recognised for her uncomfortable pieces of using mince meat as a material to create her sets. 

'Spirituality in the Flesh' 1992 is one of Skolgund's most well known pieces. Which consists of a woman made out of mince meat. This piece can be seen as uncomfortable and using mince meat as a material is not a traditional method. 

Woman out of mince meat.jpg

Mono-ha (School of Things)

Mono-ha (School of Things) was an art movement surfaced in the mid-1960s in Tokyo. The founding member Lee Ufan directed the movement focused on exploring new materials, their properties and new ideas, rejecting traditional methods of art due to the advance in technology. The name ‘Mono-ha’ was a thought of derogatorily by a journalist reacting to the lack of skill in the design of the work. Mono-ha was linked with Arte Povera, a radical art movement whose artists explored a range of unconventional processes and materials.

Lee Ufan.jpg

Relatum-Stage, Lee Ufan, 2018

Anreas Gursky

Anreas Gursky born 1955, is a German post-modernist artist who is widely know for his large scale colour photography of architecture and landscape; often taken from an unconventional, high point. Gursky’s often blurry and chaotic photos fascinate me as those aspects in photography are often seen as messy and un intentional but Gursky incorporates them into his photography as a effective feature rather than a mistake. 

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Chicago Board of Trade II, Anreas Gursky 1999. 

Barcelona Pavilion

The ‘Barcelona Pavilion’ was designed by architect’s Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe and Lilly Reich. The building consisted of a simple form with spectacular materials used such as; marble, travertine and red onyx. The interior matched the extravagant exterior due to its furniture being specifically made for the pavilion; an example being the famous ‘Barcelona chair’. The pavilion was an important and inspiring building in the history of both modern architecture and minimalism. Barcelona pavilion.jpg

Barcelona Pavilion Interior

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The ‘Bauhaus, was a German art school 1919-1933 founded by Walter Groupius in Weimar. Bauhaus was acknowledged for its famous approach to design which combined fine arts, crafts and a political new way thinking; which was taught and published. The Nazis’ shut it down in 1933 but the Bauhaus style lived on, being one of the largest influences in modern design. Developing: architecture, art, interior design, typography, graphic design etc.. 





‘The Penguin Donkey’ caught our attention as it is creative and unique as well as being functional for everyday use, breaking the usual placing and rectangular shape of a modern bookcase. We were drawn to the idea of the animalistic influences having been taken from the organic, curved, linear shape of a donkey carrying panniers in contrast to previous simplistic designer such as Mogens Koch (example of his work shown at the bottom). We agree that the design is a successful, adventurous design of a typically mundane object.

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The Penguin Donkey

Who made it? It was designed by Egon Riss and manufactured by Isokon Furniture company.

What is it? A bookcase.

What is it made out of? Natural birch ply wood.

Was it influenced by a previous design? There is no evidence of influence from previous design but there is evidence of influence from the curved, linear shape of a donkey carrying panniers.

The bookcase ‘The Penguin Donkey’ was designed by Egon Riss and manufactured by Isokon Furniture company in 1939. The product was made specifically to hold the penguin book collection in an unusual way, which can accommodate up to eighty books. This piece made of natural birch plywood fits into the modernist movement due to it’s combination of a stylish but functional design; as it was finished in a white acid catalyst enamel enabling a surface which is unaffected by liquids and hot objects.

 Penguin donkey .jpeg.1





Digital Justice Video - Notes

How is technology changing the way we see? 

The artist James Bridle reimagines John Berger’s Ways of Seeing for the digital age and asks if we can make machines without prejudice.

Digital Justice - Notes 


  • “If the new language of images were used differently, it would, through its use, confer a new kind of power.” (John Berger).
  • In 1972, Berger’s seminal TV series and book changed perceptions of art and set out to reveal the language of images.
  • Of course, that was before the internet, smartphones, and social media took hold.

Can you actually use the software yourself? Would happen so much, clear example of when you collaborate with a male, people assume what and how it is. We have to try and take over this space and turn it around. 

  • In 2015, Louis Selbee went for a workout in her local gym in Cambridge, but when she tried to swipe to go into the changing room, her membership card was denied. It turned out that the gyms computer system thought she was a man because of her title ‘Dr’, so it denied her access to the woman’s changing rooms. When she complained to staff she was told she would only be able to get in if she dropped her title.

 John Burger:

  • 1972 - ‘Ways of seeing’, the writer and critique John Burger described how women were represented in European paintings as a male gaze. When looking in these paintings, one could see the way they were regarded. They are there to feed an appetite, not to have one of there own. These paintings reproduced and then reinforced social dominant attitudes of the time. Burges guests hoped that with new forms of representation, new attitudes might develop. “I cannot take them seriously, I cannot identify with them.”
  • He put forward a new way of seeing in order to change our relationship with the world ‘If the new language of images were used differently it would through its use, refer a new kind of power. 

 New technologies: 

  • New technologies have fundamentally changed our relationship with images and thus with power, but new ways of seeing haven’t always kept up, especially as it disappears behind screens and in codes.. Attitudes and prejudices become harder to question unless we re think our relationships with machines. 
  • “Theres a world of machines and digitalia coming and we need to prepare for it so we can work with it rather than fear it. What is it we want? How do we want the world to look? How do we want the world to look? How do we want to be in it? Right now the people are saying the machines are taking our jobs, what are we going to do? We won’t have work, we won’t have any meaning, instead of pushing those questions can we push the questions of, well what does it mean? It’s possibility, that’s what excites me about it. - Stephane Dinkins, she’s an artist, researcher and teacher who works with new technologies to try and understand there effects on different communities. 

What does it mean that algorithms are coming out way? These things that decide:

  • If we get a mortgage
  • If we get a longer or shorter jail sentence
  • Weather we pay higher prices for things we see in a catalog
  • How do we recognise them? How do we know if they are being made by a digital machine?

Advanced Algorithms:

  • Advanced algorithms in the UK are now being used to decide which areas to patrol, who to take into custody. In the U.S similar programs are used by judges to decide on prison sentences, based on the likelihood of convicted criminals re offending. When independent investigators tested this software, they found it was systematically biased against people of colour, recommending them for longer sentences; even when they were less likely to re offend than white people. The software behaved that way because it was based of years of bad data. Data produced by racist policing and discriminationary sentencing. This is all it knew and shows how generations of bigotry become infested in new technology. Currently publicly repudiating them. 
  • Stephanie Jenkins is creating her own artificial intelligence. It learns about the world from a very different set of stories. Ttrying code it out and build it mostly by people of colour. Specifically Jenkins personal family, and three generations of women in her family. She has been sitting down with her mother and grandmother, talking about their family history and then using the information as data for their own network, a deep learning algorithm. Then letting the algorithm take that information, and tell her story from its own view. 

 Artificial Intelligence: 

  • Alexa from amazon, Siri from apple - artificial intelligence. They don’t just answer your questions, they learn from you by doing so, in order to get better in serving you. 
  • Amazon were receiving a lot of job applications, and therefore developed a software which would scan the applications and decide which the best ones were. The holy grail would read hundreds of cvs by comparing all of the cvs.. then picking out the best. Then they realised their program was systematically downgrading female applicants. ‘Women only collages, or women soccer teams caused the cv to be marked down. Because Amazon had hired more men, the system believed that men were better for the job.
  • Even when amazon realised what was happening they couldn’t fix it, and eventually the program was scrapped. 
  • The biggest automation company in the world, still couldn’t automate equality. 

How do you get your loyal to questions a technology/algorithms biased attitude? 

  • Technology systems are informed by human thinking. The only way to insure these technologies don’t make the same biased mistakes is by involving people who were not part of the initial decision making. 
  • By increasing the diversity of people who build the technologies, increases learning about how society itself works.


  • In the 1950s and 60s women made up most of the computer programmers, like typing and book keeping. This was considered to be ‘women’s work’ presenting stereotypes about women’s skills in painstaking in repetitive tasks.
  • As a result women contributed much of the code to projects like IBM’s main frames and NASA’s space missions. 
  • Women’s predominance held true until the 1980’s where men began to overtake women in professional employment.
  • Men also were more likely to enrol in computer science degrees. 
  • The rise of computer games, aimed mostly at boys put girls at a further disadvantage. 
  • Women in games and ‘black girls code’ are changing this.. but they still have a long way to go. 
  • Googles recent figures show that only 20% of its employees are female. And only 1% are black. Technology has a power to it.

Digital Colonialism:  

  • Like sexism and racism, colonialism can be presented in technology. It is should which could be called digital colonialism.
  • Digital colonialism is the idea of how certain technologies have been used by certain countries, cultures, demographics, as a way to colonise other cultures, other demographics, other countries. 
  • Technology shapes our imagination and our way of seeing the world. But when we use these tools without thinking we are looking through a very old lens. Much older than the tool itself. 
  • Gendered/ heterosexual objects… plug sockets and plugs. Queer sockets.

 Longing for a difference: 

  • Longing.. not what we usually associate with technology. We usually long for something new.. the new update.. or the latest phone rather than the desire for something different. This is the radical possibility that still exists within our technologies. 
  • They don’t have to reinforce existing power in the present. They may also allow us to remake it in a more just and equitable form. 
  • To do some requires us to see, not just these technologies, but our whole society through a very different lens. 
  • Technology has the power to control and constrain us. But when it meets the real world, real people and real bodies it can reveal what we have previously refused to see. The incredible efflorescence of ideas and identity which have in reality been here all along.

 Gender identities: 

  • It used to be that you could only identify as male or female when you joined a social network. 
  • A few years ago google plus added the option of other. That pleased some people but it still didn’t feel very welcoming. 
  • Under pressure, in 2014 facebook released a list of 51 gender identities that users could select from. Later that year, after consultation they increased it to more than 70. And a year later they gave in and allowed anyone to type in their own identity for themselves. 
  • It seems the more we try to control and categorise the would, sectioning things in boxes and lines in databases, the more of life spills out. 


Evidently comes down to our desire to build not better machines, but a better world. An important step in world building. 

David Hockney

David Hockney, (born July 1937) is an English painter, printmaker, draftsman, stage designer, and photographer. Hockney is one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century, particularly an important influence in the 1960s pop art movement.

Hockney's works where he uses collage effectively to distort images:

'Portrait of Mother III' 1985 is an image taken in Yorkshire, of Hockney's mother that he has rearranged to show different sides of her face and to capture the essence of her personality. 

My mother .jpg

'Pearblosson Highway' 1986, by David Hockney depicts a view of an American Highway. It is a collage, made from over 700 separate photographs; which many of were taken on the notorious route 138, Antelope Valley. Presenting how collage can be used to create a whole new setting and in this case a highway. I find collage an enjoyable and effective way to express my thoughts, especially when my ideas do not exist. 

Road to renewal .jpg

Hockney has created this photo montage where he forms a new version and viewpoint of an existing object, a chair. Hockney effectively distorts the shape of the chair but only to the extent where it is still recognisable, just in a new form. 

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Roy Lichtenstein

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The Interiors, Roy Lichtenstein 

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein 1923 -1997 was an American pop artist during the 1960s. Lichtenstein became a leading figure in the modernist art movement and his work inspired by comic strip marked his work as pop art through parody. His work was influenced by everyday pop culture life, particularly advertising.  He described pop art as "not 'American' painting but actually industrial painting". 

Bedroom at Arles,1992, is an oil and Magna on canvas painting by Roy Lichtenstein based on the Bedroom in Arles series of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh.  This interior painting creates an fun and exciting picture of the home in a pop art style which contrasts to traditional paintings of the home which are often colourless and have a sense of a seriousness and a emptiness to them. 


Mona Hatoum

Mona Hatoum’s artwork focuses on the intensity of the body. Hatoum uses a range of medium’s such as sculpture, video, photography and works on paper. Hatoum’s sculptures focus on different emotions we feel such as desire, fascination and fear.

Hatoum often takes objects which are typically seen as domestic, everyday objects and transforms their form into dangerous objects, completely changing their purpose. An example of this is 'Homebound' (2000) which is household furniture assembled and  wired up with an active electric current transforming the furniture’s purpose of comfort and practicality into dangerous and threatening objects.


Video of 'Homebound' by Mona Hatoum

The Seagram Building

The Seagram building is a New York skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, designed by the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who was a director of the Bauhaus in Berlin. Where he initiated the earliest modernist principles of architecture, until the Nazis shut it down in 1933. Mies travelled to the U.S. along with his radical and new ideas about architecture. The Seagram building was completed in 1958 with Mies’ view that ‘less is more’. The Seagram building was an important part in modernism due to it’s unique and simple structure influencing an era of minimalism; consisting of simple skyscrapers made out of metal and glass rather than their original forms of brick and stone.

Seagram Building - NYC.jpg

Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst is an English artist and art collector. Hirst’s artwork can be seen as socially shocking due to death being a main theme in his artwork. Hirst uses dead, preserved and often dissected animals such as sheep, a cow and a shark to create his works. Hirst is a key artist in the modernist art movement. 

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William Morris

‘The Strawberry Thief' by William Morris was one of his most famous pieces, made from indigo-discharged and block-printed cotton. Intended to be draped around walls and used for curtains. This piece influenced a huge part of the arts and crafts movement due to it’s detail. 

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