Cover image by John Maffei, Apogee Photography


  • Simon Loxley (2013) Ultrabold: The Journal of St Bride Library 13: 19.

Writing Design: Words and Objects, edited by Grace Lees-Maffei. London: Berg, 2012

How do we learn about the objects that surround us? As well as gathering sensory information by viewing and using objects, we also learn about objects through the written and spoken word - from shop labels to friends' recommendations and from magazines to patents. But, even as design commentators have become increasingly preoccupied with issues of mediation, the intersection of design and language remains under-explored.Writing Design provides a unique examination of what is at stake when we convert the material properties of designed goods into verbal or textual description. Issues discussed include the role of text in informing design consumption, designing with and through language, and the challenges and opportunities raised by design without language. Bringing together a wide range of scholars and practitioners, Writing Design reveals the difficulties, ethics and politics of writing about design.

Writing Design: Words and Objects was one of two collections of essays developed from ‘Writing Design: Object, Process, Discourse, Translation’, the Design History Society Annual Conference 2009, which I conceived and co-convened at the University of Hertfordshire as part of my Writing Design project.

Keynote Presentations

‘Writing Design: Words and Objects’, The Statement of the Object: Aesthetics, Theory, Context, PhD & Research Seminar, Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies, University of Bergen at Centre Franco-Norvégien en Sciences Sociales et Humaines (CFN), Paris, 22-24 October 2014.

‘Writing Design’, Keynote for Writing and the Object, A Writing in Creative Practice workshop (WritingPAD/HEA), Middlesex University, 13 June 2013.


2011: Design History Society Research Award, £700 for Writing Design: Words and Objects