Edited by Luisa Coscarelli and Emily Aleev-Snow
Why do things look the way they do? This is one, if not the central question to the study of history of design and can be discussed from a variety of different aspects. Materiality, geography, design, function, gender, taste, craft, ornament, class are only some examples. In this column we would like to present a different object every week and thereby show how design historians go about using objects as primary sources. We hope to have everyone (historians of design, practitioners, students from other disciplines, etc) discuss objects with regards to whatever context they find interesting and thereby reveal how much information can be gathered by simply looking at an object very closely. The aim here is to encourage participation in the dialogue about objects and the creation of a platform for discussions about design.
Luisa Coscarelli When I started the History of Design M.A. I knew I liked the decorative arts. Studying beautiful objects that were nice to look at – what more could you want? However, once the course began I realised that behind the pretty (or not so pretty) surface of every object lies so much more meaning
Sophie Cope The early modern life-cycle was marked by many poignant stages, of which birth, marriage and death were perhaps the most significant. These life-cycle events were major transitions. Birth and baptism initiated a person into the world and their community, whilst death marked the passage of a soul from one world to another.
Annie Thwaite Recently, my mother told me that she was thinking about selling my violin, which I haven’t played in quite a few years. If you ever went to my family home, you might be quite surprised to see the plethora of different sized violins that we keep – from tiny ones that I
Luisa Coscarelli I still remember vividly the first time I visited the V&A’s silver galleries – one long corridor located on the museum’s second floor laden with shiny silver and golden objects. Pilgrim bottles are displayed in a row close to the room’s ceiling, a huge wine basin demands attention in the middle of
Luisa Coscarelli During a recent visit to Milan I was surprised to see this creature welcome me at the city’s Milano Malpensa airport. It is a giant figure dressed in a costume that reminded me of Renaissance armour and male fancy dress. The creature holds a woven basket filled with fruits in its right
Luisa Coscarelli In my first year of the V&A/RCA History of Design MA Course we had the amazing opportunity to experience the process of casting bronze, and to make an object of cast bronze ourselves. In this post I will present the object that I made, and while many of the Object of the
Luisa Coscarelli Objects can deceive us. They can come across as things they are not. Sometimes it is their design that fools us, other times the materials they are made of. They make us believe they are something different, hide their true function, or deceive our senses. However, the deception of an object is
Luisa Coscarelli The current fashion craze for platformed sandals, heels, or flat shoes was not started this, last, or the season before, but already popular in Renaissance Italy. People of lower social classes and the poor wore wooden platforms as cheap footwear that protected their feet from dirt on the streets and fields. This
Luisa Coscarelli A close friend of mine recently got a new job as part of the marketing team at a company researching and selling coins. When we got together last weekend to catch up over a glass of wine, she told me about a curious coin she had come across – one made of
Luisa Coscarelli In 1999, the journal Eighteenth-Century Studies published an article by art historian Mimi Hellman entitled ‘Furniture, Sociability, and the Work of Leisure in Eighteenth Century France’. In it Hellman investigates furniture as social actors that en- or discourage certain modes of behaviour from whoever interacts with them, and therefore leads to the