5th Symposium

sympo5sDesign, Text and Context: Design History for Whom?

If history is a constructed tale, narrated from a specific viewpoint with particular concerns in mind, how has design’s story been told? At the turn of the last century, the design historian was almost the craftsman himself who dominated the academic study of the art of design. In the years between the First and Second World Wars, design history became a story of progress—the advancement of modern design—as written by modernist ideologues like Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and Herbert Read. This positivist narrative came under attack in the 1970s with the rise of Cultural Studies, and today, design historians practice our craft mindful of the need to recognize a multiplicity of viewpoints and experiences of design as practice, product and way of working in the world. But how do we write our histories of design for today, and what is our goal in composing these narratives? Should design histories increase intercultural and transnational understanding? Make apparent economic interactions between corporations and consumers? Benefit designers and producers? Educate the public about design through exhibitions and experiential learning? And if the answer is “all of these”, how might we best address these multiple audiences? This symposium is an opportunity to discuss these and other questions in the contemporary practice of design history.

16 July 2007, at 13.00-17.00
Saitama University, Tokyo Station College
fee 1,500 yen for non-member / 500 yen for student
Co-organised by Graduate School of Cultural Science, Saitama University

Part 1: Keynote Speech
John Heskett (Professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University)

Part 2: Research Reports
Ekuan Shoji (Professor at Nihon University)
Nagasawa Tadanori (Design Consultant, Professor at Musashino Art University)

Part 3: Panel Discussion
Panelists : John Heskett, Ekuan Shoji, Nagasawa Tadanori
Coordinator : Iguchi Toshino (Professor at Saitama University, Deputy-Chair of the Design History Workshop Japan)

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