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Affect and the experimental design of domestic products

Keulemans, Guy, College of Fine Arts, Faculty of Art and Design, UNSW


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  • Title:
    Affect and the experimental design of domestic products
  • Author/Creator/Curator: Keulemans, Guy, College of Fine Arts, Faculty of Art and Design, UNSW
  • Subjects: afffect; design; products; experimental desgn; hylomorphism; sustainability; environment; production; consumption; consumerism; repair; anomaly
  • Resource type: Thesis
  • Type of thesis: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2015
  • Supervisor: Moline, Katherine, College of Fine Arts, Faculty of Art and Design, UNSW; Munster, Anna, College of Fine Arts, Faculty of Art and Design, UNSW
  • Language: English
  • Permissions: This work can be used in accordance with the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.
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  • Description: This research is concerned with the experimental design of furniture and homewares, and their affective relationships to issues of production, consumption and the environment. Most mass- produced domestic objects use standardised designs and materials, which, apart from their often- noted detrimental effects on the environment, also limit the possibilities for expressivity and affective encounter. Experimental design practices can open up spaces for affective relations with domestic objects. This research proposes that a particular process, that of ‘repair’, can facilitate these encounters. Transformative practices of repair mobilise intensities, which create new possibilities for re-situating our thinking about, and place within, production and consumption. These different modes of repair are conveyed through the practice-based research, which forms the core of this thesis.Three experimental design groups from the last fifty years – Italian radical design, Dutch conceptual design and critical design – are examined in this dissertation as the context in which this practice-based research can be located. Practices of these groups which implicitly resonate with concepts of affect are identified. Focus is given to works that address issues of environmental concern, such as consumerism, pollution and product obsolescence.Concepts of affect from the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari are used illuminate these relationships and interrogate how domestic objects and their perception might be better understood. The quality of ‘anomaly’ – objects that seem to exist outside or on the border of their design type – is shown to be pivotal to these affective operations. Concepts of affect are also used to critique dominant industrial design techniques that emphasise the appeal of surfaces and reduce consumer awareness of their products’ material ecologies.Repair is proposed as an alternative technique for production. The traditional Japanese craft of kintsugi is used to demonstrate the propensity of repaired objects to embody dual perceptions of environmental catastrophe and amelioration. I discuss in detail three of my own works, which deploy techniques of experimental design and repair to catalyse awareness of processes of production and consumption, and their consequences for the environment.

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