Unmaking Things is an online creative platform, established in October 2011 by History of Design MA students at the Victoria and Albert Museum & Royal College of Art. The website was restarted in November 2012, and is now being relaunched, edited and run once again by a new cohort of second year students.
Unmaking Things presents an online space in which to explore ideas, raise questions and publish work relating to the history of design, objects and material culture. The site does not restrict submissions to any specific type of design history, or category of object – neither is it restrained by geographical location or time period. It is a place to reflect critically on, and to facilitate investigation into new ways of writing and conceptualising such a vast and disparate discipline.
As students currently writing our dissertations, we find that being able to contribute to an approachable and accessible site aids our research – not only in terms of connections that we are able make with other topics, but also by giving us the chance to develop our questions in a communicative and critical environment.
New articles are posted onto Unmaking Things every Monday and Thursday. A diverse range of topics and ideas are explored throughout the site’s nine columns, whose themes reflect the varied backgrounds and shared interests of our group. We also strive to broaden our community by encouraging dialogue and submissions from other students, practitioners and people who share our interest in material culture and design.
We hope that you are interested and inspired by your visit to the site, and welcome you to read, remark on and contribute to the Unmaking Things community.
Annie Thwaite & Charlotte Flint
Unmaking Things Editors-in-Chief
V&A/ RCA History of Design Programme
Two years ago, a group of students from our postgraduate programme launched Unmaking Things as an experimental online studio. Unmaking Things quickly became more than just a public platform for their writing and research. It fostered a new kind of collectivity amongst them, which enriched their specialist areas of research and brought a refreshing inter-disciplinarity to the way they thought and spoke about design history. It helped them connect with a wider community of students and scholars, as they invited RCA colleagues, tutors on the V&A/RCA programme and other academics, sister programmes in design history (such as the Bard Graduate Center in New York), and alumni to contribute. The founders of Unmaking Things have now moved on to other exciting projects, gifting the site to the next cohort of students.
Unmaking Things is an extension of the interests and specialisms of the V&A/RCA History of Design programme, which celebrates its 31st anniversary this year. This programme is the starting place, not the finishing line, for many of the contributors to these pages. The History of Design MA and PhD programme offers three specialisms: Renaissance and Early Modern; Modern and Contemporary; and Asian, Early Modern to Contemporary. To find out more about our work, visit our course pages on the RCA’s website or on the V&A website. You can come and visit us, at the RCA, the V&A, or at one of our frequent public events where students and staff present their work, details of which will be posted on the Unmaking Things twitter feed. For further information about applying to the programme, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jane Pavitt and Marta Ajmar
Heads of Programme, V&A/RCA History of Design