Reader in Design History, Dept. of Design, School of Creative Arts,
University of Hertfordshire
The Mediation Focus in Design History: An Intellectual History
Design history’s prevailing focus on production prompted a reactionary consumption turn in the 1990s. In this talk I will reflect on the intellectual history of the concept of mediation within design history as something that gained in prominence during the consumption turn, and since then. The consumption turn involved the study of mediating discourses in the understanding of design, but it was not until well into the current century that the term ‘mediation’ was posited as a description of a cogent concept with sufficient critical mass to constitute a ‘mediation turn’. As nodal phases in the design lifecycle, production, mediation and consumption provide design historians and others interested in understanding design with a choice of entry points that can be examined as focal concerns, or simultaneously, or in combination. I will illustrate this talk with examples from my own work and those of others.
Professor of Media and Communication Studies, Department of Geography, Media and Communication, Karlstad University
Mediatization and Social Design: A Critical Approach
Through the appropriation of new media we can extend our capabilities as autonomous human beings. Media can liberate us from the constraints of time, space and social cohesion. At the same time, however, mediatization means that new forms of social and technological dependence emerge, accompanied by experiences of frustration, stress and existential anxiety. Mediatization is an inherently dialectical process, where design plays a lubricating role through making media devices and services culturally meaningful and user-friendly, sometimes even self-instructive. But critical understandings of mediatization also actualize the growing need for design that can respond to the new discontents that haunt our media-saturated lives. This regards anything from the shaping of digital interfaces to the creation of alternative physical environments for media (non-)use. In this talk I present a systematized view of the interplay between mediatization and design processes, followed by a critical discussion of the current role of social design initiatives.
Professor of Design Culture, Department of Design and Communication, University of Southern Denmark
Close Encounters? Mediating Design Through Brand Spaces
The design culture is highly influenced by countless visual presentations of products in digital and print mass media, and the physical encounters with material products could seem to diminish. Brand spaces and flagship stores attempt to compensate by staging products as part of a brand universe to offer individual experiences – as well as further photo opportunities for social or mass-media circulation. Architecture, interior design and visual merchandizing are parts of a mix of media that communicate both visual and material qualities, themes, atmospheres and meanings. ’Everything is media’ in branding (Liz Moor, The Rise of Brands 2007: 46), but there is, of course, huge differences between mass-media appearances of graphic design and visual communication and the more singular physical and spatial means for individual spaces. In this talk I will discuss different kinds of brand spaces and focus on how they amplify or echo material qualities and product style as spatial, visual and physical experience. Brand spaces ranging from small shop-in-shops and fairs to brand museums offer perspectives on the role of brand space as ’medium’ for communication of product qualities and meanings as well as hinges between close encounters and mass-media circulation of design products.