4.30-6pm (GMT), Thursday 19 November 2020
Registration NOW OPEN!


IN CONVERSATION with Deborah Sugg Ryan (Portsmouth):

Damon Taylor
Moving Objects: A Cultural History of Emotive Design

Moving Objects deals with emotive design: designed objects that demand to be engaged with rather than simply used. These emotionally laden, highly authored works are often produced in limited editions and sold like art. If Postmodernism depended upon ironic distance, and Critical Design is all about asking questions, then emotive design runs hotter than this, and the book attempts to confront how designers are using feelings in what they make. To such ends this is then a work of design theory, a study in design history informed by a theoretical understanding of material culture as a means to examine the social life of things and subject–object relations. Tracing the phenomenon back to the ‘Dutch inflection’ that began with Droog designers like Jurgen Bey and Hella Jongerius, Moving Objects follows the development of such work in the 1990s and into the present century and looks for its origins in the uncanny explorations of surrealism. Through analysis of the rising popularity of designer-makers like Nacho Carbonell and Studio Swine, the book establishes a critical and theoretical framework for understanding the performative nature of this emotive and sometimes disturbing work. Through a critique of Speculative Design, and an examination of the work of designers such as Mathias Bengtsson who are ‘growing’ furniture inside computers, the book asks what happens when the tangible melts into the datascape and design becomes a question of intervening in the flows of contemporary culture. In this way the book is a history of the phenomenon, but it is not just a retelling of the events, rather it is an attempt to show the relations between the parts, to reveal the dynamics at play in designed objects that have come about in a situation where the implicit tensions serve to generate the work’s effects.

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Attendee Special Offer

Damon Taylor is a design theorist, author and educator. His current research is concerned with the relationship between the made environment and the politics of embodiment, and the nature and practice of emotive design. He is currently Senior Lecturer in Design at the University of Brighton, where he teaches product design, the history and theory of design, (un)sustainable design, socially useful design, and design systemics.

Deborah Sugg Ryan is Professor of Design History and Theory and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural industries at the University of Portsmouth. Her current research focuses on houses, interiors and domestic design, and also on twentieth century historical pageants. Her recent monograph Ideal Homes, 1918-39: Domestic Design and Suburban Modernism (Manchester University Press, 2018) was awarded the 2020 Historians of British Art Book Prize for Exemplary Scholarship in the Period after 1800 and was also shorlisted for the 2019 Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion. An experienced broadcaster for television and radio, she is series consultant and a presenter for the BBC Two television series A House Through Time.

Chair: Annebella Pollen


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