- Affect and the Experimental Design of Domestic Products
This research is concerned with the experimental design of furniture and homewares, and their affective relationships to issues of production, consumption and the environment. Most mass-produced domestic objects use standardized designs and materials, which, apart from their often-noted detrimental effects on the environment, also limit possibilities for expressivity and affective encounter. Experimental design practices can open up spaces for affective relations with domestic objects. This research proposes that a particular process, that of “repair,” can facilitate these encounters and resituate thinking about, and place within, production and consumption.
Three experimental design groups of the past 50 years—Italian radical design, Dutch conceptual design and critical design—are examined in this dissertation as the context in which practice-based research can be located. Their practices that implicitly resonate with concepts of affect from the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari are identified. These concepts are then developed and deployed to critique dominant industrial design techniques that emphasize the appeal of surfaces and reduce consumer awareness of their products’ material ecologies. The traditional Japanese craft of kintsugi is used to demonstrate the contrary propensity of repaired objects to express material ecologies and embody dual perceptions of environmental catastrophe and amelioration. The practice-based research, which forms the core of this thesis, discovers techniques of experimental design and repair to catalyze awareness of production and consumption processes and their environmental consequences, discussed via three of the author’s own works: Marble & Steel Room Divider, Archaeologic Vases and Copper Ice Cream Scoops.
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Archaeologic Vase (3rd series) (.jpg 6 MB)
[Click to Download] These works subscribe to concepts of transformative repair, and are influenced by the traditional Japanese repair craft of kintsugi and the use of UV markers in archaeological glue repairs. The vases absorb light energy during the day and glow at night. Thrown and fired to bisque by Kiyotaka Hashimoto. (© Designed and photographed by Guy Keulemans)
Copper Ice Cream Scoops (.jpg 1 MB)
[Click to Download] Kelly's famous 1935 aluminum ice cream scoop is industrially cast in copper. Due to difficulty of this, the results are damaged and imperfect. Keulemans restores the scoop to functional use with tin and resin. This use of 'pre-consumer' repair advocates for the greater prominence of repair in domestic products. (© Designed and photographed by Guy Keulemans)
Marble & Steel Room Divider (.jpg 2 MB)
[Click to Download] A cracked and repaired marble slab is hung in a frame to create a room divider referencing the production and global transport of marble. The compression of industrial and geological affects in the work are intended to mobilise aesthetic intensities relevant to the perception of industrial systems and their failures. (© Designed and photographed by Guy Keulemans)