Dangerous Liaisons: Categories, Labels and Intersections

We work to understand the world partly through categorisation, by assigning names and labels to the things we encounter: ‘Design’, ‘craft’ and ‘art’ are examples. In 1999, to accompany an exhibition at UH Galleries of the work of Chatwin:Martin, I convened a conference at the University of Hertfordshire, 'Dangerous Liaisons: Relationships between Design, Craft and Art', and co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Design History with Linda Sandino on the same topic. In my work on the relationship between these phenomena, including my co-authored introductory article for the Journal of Design History, I concluded that it is practice at the intersection of these categories that really enlivens them. This article has been anthologised in Crafts: Today’s Anthology for Tomorrow’s Crafts, edited by Fabien Petiot and Chloé Braunstein-Kreigel (Paris: Éditions Norma, 2018).

This project has informed two directions of my subsequent research.

Firstly, my interest in labels and categories as a focus for analysing design discourse continued in research on the relationship between design and craft and the Made in Italy label through close analysis of the production, consumption and mediation of Alessi spa. This work on national identity in Italian design history was contextualised with a broader study of national identities in an age of globalization. Read more about my work on my National identity and Globalization

Secondly, my study of the relationship between design and craft continues in my current projects: