Symposium: Bread, Politics, and other Polemics

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Join us for the Bread, Politics, and other Polemics symposium where select MA History of Design & Curatorial Studies students will be presenting their research. Emile de Visscher, designer and editor of Obliquite, will also be joining us to discuss his work, the relationship between art and design, and his publication.HDCS-2016symposium-600
Emile de Visscher has a double masters from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London in the Innovation Design Engineering Program. He has exhibited internationally, including the Salone del Mobile in Milan, Italy where he recently launched the first issue of Obliquite. The journal is meant to fill a void in writing on design, and it invites exclusively working designers to share through essays and interviews their thoughts on the process of design as opposed to the social or philosophical significance of the finished products. His work has been reported on in international design press for projects such as Pearling, a synthetic process for recreating nacre, the material of which pearls are made. Another of his projects, Polyfloss, which provides a set-up for recycling and reusing the waste product polypropylene, was awarded the top prize in the Innovative Hothouse Competition in 2012.


Oliver Graney presenting: “Bread and Revolution: The revolutionary power of bread in William Morris’s News from Nowhere and Jerszy Seymour’s New Dirty Enterprises”

This paper examines the role of bread in William Morris’s News from Nowhere and how the designer Jerszy Seymour in his project New Dirty Enterprises has understood and re-interpreted Morris’s ideas. Bread has been a motif, for lack of a better word, through much of the history of Socialism and Communism and it occupies a central role in how political theorists and activists have imagined how the revolution would transpire. This paper explores the metaphor of bread through the Paris Commune of 1871, Morris’s News from Nowhere, the writing of Pyotr Kropotkin, and the work of contemporary designer Jerszy Seymour. This paper explores the various meanings of bread, both literal and metaphorical, through Morris and Seymour’s work and whether the various interpretations have deepened our understanding of effective revolutionary tactics.


Katia Porro presenting: “This is not a chair: the designer star of bad design” 

This essay critiques the work of Ron Arad as he has assumed the role as one of the most prominent “designer stars” of our time. Porro contrasts the success and the intentions of Arad with avant-garde artists such as Marcel Duchamp. Rather than shaking the foundation of the world of design by creating objects supporting an aesthetic based on revolutionary ideals, Arad has made a name for himself by producing commodifications that appeal to a bourgeois society. However, what if these chairs are too sculptural to be functional, but too functional to be simply sculpture? Thus this question is posed: if a typically useful object is seemingly useless, can it be considered “bad design”?