Panel ‘The Global History of Design and Material Culture,’ at the College Art Association annual conference in New York, 11-14 February 2015. Left to right: Paul Stirton, Pat Kirkham, Grace Lees-Maffei, David Raizman, Kjetil Fallan, Daniel Huppatz, Victor Margolin.

Panel ‘The Global History of Design and Material Culture,’ at the College Art Association annual conference in New York, 11-14 February 2015. Left to right: Paul Stirton, Pat Kirkham, Grace Lees-Maffei, David Raizman, Kjetil Fallan, Daniel Huppatz, Victor Margolin.

The introduction to Designing Worlds was presented by the co-editors Kjetil Fallan and Grace Lees-Maffei in a panel ‘The Global History of Design and Material Culture,’ at the College Art Association annual conference in New York, 11-14 February 2015. We made further presentations as follows:

Designing Worlds: National Design Histories in an Age of Globalization, Research Seminar School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 14 September 2015.

Designing Worlds: National Design Histories in an Age of Globalization, Northern Illinois University, De Kalb, Illinois, 14 September 2015. 

Our paper was developed as an article for Design Issues: Kjetil Fallan and Grace Lees-Maffei. ‘Real Imagined Communities: National Narratives and the Globalization of Design History’, Design Issues 32, no. 1 (Winter 2016): 5-18.

It has been published in German as Kjetil Fallan and Grace Lees-Maffai [sic] (2018). Reale imaginierte Gemeinschaften: Nationale Narrative und die Globalisierung der Designgeschichte. In Eva Knopf, Sophie Lembcke, Mara Recklies (Eds.), Archive dekolonialisieren (223-240). Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.

Fallan, K. & G. Lees-Maffei, eds. Designing Worlds: National Design Histories in an Age of Globalization. New York: Berghahn, 2016 (hardback, open access), 2018 (paperback).

From consumer products to architecture to advertising to digital technology, design is an undeniably global phenomenon. Yet despite their professed transnational perspective, historical studies of design have all too often succumbed to a bias toward Western, industrialized nations. This diverse but rigorously curated collection recalibrates our understanding of design history, reassessing regional and national cultures while situating them within an international context. Here, contributors from five continents offer nuanced studies that range from South Africa to the Czech Republic, all the while sensitive to the complexities of local variation and the role of nation-states in identity construction.

Designing Worlds was reviewed by Deborah Breen (2018) for Technology and Culture 59 (4): 999-1000. Breen called the book an ‘ambitious undertaking’ which opens up:

‘important questions about the circulation of goods, practices, and personnel - all of which connect to the transfer of technology throughout history’.

The book was also reviewed by Dr Javier Gimeno-Martínez (2018) for the Journal of Design History 31 (3): 302–303.

Designing Worlds is available Open Access thanks to funding from the University of Oslo and the University of Hertfordshire. Watch a short film in which I discuss the experience of open access for this book here.

In addition, I presented my chapter for Designing Worlds, ‘A Special Relationship: The Transatlantic Domestic Dialogue' by invitation as part of the series Inside (hi)Stories at Parsons the News School for Design on 10 February 2015. Watch the presentation here.