Annie Thwaite & Charlotte Flint
A whole year has passed since we took over Unmaking Things from previous Editors-in-Chief Sadie Hough and Rebecca Unsworth. The yearly tradition of restarting and rebranding the site with each new cohort of V&A/RCA MA second years began in October 2011 – and is about to enter its fourth year, and fourth reinvention. Yet despite changing its exterior appearance, the underlying concept behind Unmaking Things has remained constant – it is a place in which new ideas and theories concerning design history and material culture can be explored, discussed and disseminated.
One of the most exciting things about the annual evolution of Unmaking Things is that each successive year-group can feed their ideas and interests directly into the site itself. It is for this reason that the columns, editors and indeed content differ from year to year, giving Unmaking Things a fresh identity each October, whilst retaining a perpetual common theme.
This year we were incredibly lucky to have nine fantastic columns, run by sixteen different editors. Steffi Duarte and Caterina Tiezzi edited Craft, Technology and Productions, a column focusing on the relationship between these three concepts. Design*Systems, run by Tania Messell and Andrea Tam, examined what happens when the two broad concepts of ‘design’ and ‘systems’ were brought together, and how we think about design through these terms. Charlotte Flint and Jen Forakis discussed contemporary activities and future design with their column From Live to Future. Materiality/Immateriality has been edited by Hollie Chung, who concentrated on the materiality of objects how this was useful for design history. Georgia Cherry and Frankie Kubicki offered a space in which the intriguing visual and material cultures of medicine, science and technology could be discussed, with their column Material Matter.
Object of the Week presented a weekly dose of object-based design history, examining how design historians use objects as primary sources, with an incredibly diverse range of contributions from editors Luisa Coscarelli and Emily Aleev-Snow. Objects in Translation edited by Hannah Lee explored the dynamics of global cultural exchange in a design historical context, over different chronologies and geographies. Liz Tregenza and Elizabeth Coulson investigated fashion, style and identity, showing how dress could be used to convey meaning with their column Taking Fashion Seriously. And finally, The Cabinet of Culinary Curiosities, edited by Zenia Malmer and Ning Huang was dedicated to the fascinating study of food history across different countries and ages, with an emphasis on material culture.
Having recently graduated, it is interesting to see how these varied and fascinating specialisms have changed over time. Running Unmaking Things whilst attempting to write and research a 30,000 word thesis, as well as juggling internships, part-time jobs, and life itself was at times a challenge. However, what it did provide was a route through which dissertation ideas could be tested out, or conversely where students, academics and practitioners alike could discuss thoughts and theories outside of their chosen academic specialisms.
We are now leaving the site and laying our columns to rest in the Unmaking Things archives. Yet whilst we go on to follow many different further areas of study, career paths and life changes, we remain united by a passion for design history. It is this that we hope we have successfully shared with you, our readers, over the past year. If we have inspired you to think about an object, or provoked a discussion about design history, then we have been successful. Needless to say, we have hugely enjoyed sharing our content with you. If at any time you would like to access our 2013/2014 site to read, reference, or refresh your memory of any of the articles from the past year, it can be found at: www.unmakingthings.rca.ac.uk. Or, if you would like to know more about our fantastic MA course itself, please follow this link: www.rca.ac.uk/schools/school-of-humanities/hod/.
All that is now left to say is a huge thank-you to our incredible editors of the past year, whom we were extremely lucky to have had the chance to work alongside. Thanks also to our many external contributors, who continue to diversify the site. Finally we thank everyone who has read, shared, tweeted, discussed and encouraged Unmaking Things throughout the past year, for their invaluable support. We hope you will join us in welcoming the new Editors-in-Chief Chloe Frechette and Annabelle Sheen, and that you continue to read and enjoy the brand new edition of Unmaking Things.