University of Tasmania

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The beautiful, durable and mundane : exploring notions of value in craft and design practice, in the context of sustainability

posted on 2023-05-27, 23:35 authored by Skinner, RJ
The project addresses issues of value and meaning in objects while at the same time considering more sustainable approaches to designing, making and consuming, through the reuse of already existing materials. By exploring concepts such as durability and ephemerality, the precious and the mundane, I have sought to show possibilities for reconciling the production of objects with reduced environmental effects of their production, use and disposal. This was an issue that tended to be neglected during the period of modernist design with its embracing of technology and the machine aesthetic. Since the 1960's with the emergence of designers and writers such as Victor Papanek and Buckminster Fuller there has been a growing concern to develop more sustainable approaches to design, and a broader consideration of meaning and engagement with objects. Some of the significant contemporary designers addressing these issues include Paolo Ulian, Hella Jongerius and Constantin and Laurene Boym. It is with reference to this field that I contextualise my practice. Through the research project I have recognised the importance of a local focus, in supporting more sustainable approaches and engagement with objects. In the process I have identified factors specific to designing with reuse materials, and have used them to guide the direction of the research. These include: material availability, perceived value of materials, time or cost required to achieve a high finish, design complexity and sophistication, and perceived value of the finished product. What has also emerged from the research is the importance of commercial considerations in designing for sustainability, as I believe economically viable objects contribute more than purely symbolic ones in influencing the perceptions and habits of designers and consumers. The project has shown that engagement with objects and sustainable approaches, when considered as integral to a design's development, can be mutually beneficial and lead to aesthetically sophisticated and highly valued objects.


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