The Hand Book: A Design History of and through the Hand
Hands are a means of knowing the world and making the world. With our hands, we manufacture designed objects, images and systems whether on the small scale of the designer-craftsperson, or the macro scale of hired hands operating mechanized, industrialized mass production processes. As consumers, we touch and operate designed goods and use our hands to communicate. Yet, our hands are hidden in plain sight and they largely escape scrutiny. This study is the first on the significance of the hand for design history. It will examine the tacit processes of craft and the impact of mechanization on design and manufacture, and consider the hand as a tool of communication in design and fashion before exploring the place of the hand in our digital culture and the possibilities of prosthetics.
This project continues my examination of mediation in design history, shifting the focus from mediating channels based principally on text and image, and on Writing Design, to the hand as a mediating device. Our hands mediate the world through the sense of touch, along with the other senses. The Hand Book will recognises this primary function for the hand while adding another, by treating the hand as a way in to the history of design and design history which sheds new light on the development of both. It is the latter project which connects with my interest in design discourse, because the hand has been a focal trope in debates about manufacturing and mechanisation from the time of the first developments in industrialisation.