Studio 19: Material in Motion

Studio brief

"Things make us just as much as we make things" (Miller). This studio will explore a reading of objects focusing on the interplay between materials, the objects they form and their context.

Are objects complete once they are designed? Is their form and impact frozen once manufactured, sold or used? We will investigate what constitutes a stimulating relationship with objects, and why individuals may invest great attention in acquiring them, only for them to be soon discarded. We will explore how objects change, and also our relationship with them, over time. This will involve consideration of the complex relationships between material, object and context, covering both intentional and unintentional aspects. The attributing of value will be considered as a judgement made by an audience, whether an individual or by society more broadly. This exploration will embrace the perception and experience of objects from a broad sensory perspective, how they function against intent and over time, the potential for emotional attachment, our own and other cultural perspectives and economic interests. We will also analyse object transformation from ordinary to extraordinary or obsolete, through transitions of time and context.

The studio will be of relevance to a broad spectrum of 3D students interested in consumer culture, and more specifically those seeking to grow audience desire for their work, whilst valuing the principle of consuming less. It will also speak to those interested in contemporary material culture, that have an interest in what such objects do and will say about us, and the times that we live in, to future generations. From a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ focus, you will have the opportunity to consider the implications of your research in relation to your design practice decisions.

View: Westfield Commercial plus a short behind-the-scenes film on the making of the commercial for the launch of Westfield London.


The London Design Festival
Various events, various venues, 16 to 24 September 2017, London

Hella Jongarius: Breathing Colour
URGENT – Runs to September 24th 2017 at the Design Museum, London

California: Designing Freedom
Runs to 15 October 2017 at the Design Museum, London

Women’s Hour Craft Prize
Runs to 5 February 2018 at the V&A, London

Plywood: Material of the Modern World
Runs to 12 November 2017 at the V&A, London

Collect: The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects
Runs 22nd to 25th February at the Saatchi Gallery, London

Fashioned from Nature
Opening 21 April 2018 at the V&A, London

Week 1 to 6 – In addition to introducing the formal framework of a dissertation, the first six weeks seminars will model a development of a dissertation proposal, which can be varied or interpreted, or even ignored assuming you present an alternative model. A combination of material/object handling, object in context visits, readings, short pieces of writing, group work plus discussion and debate, will demonstrate how what you do can work to produce and animate a dissertation. These weeks will also serve to demonstrate that you are a valuable resource to each other in identifying authentic areas of interest, engaging with the dissertation process and developing confidence in setting up a range of primary research experiences.

Week 7 – We will review the experiences and ideas that have emerged during the seminar series and consider how these relate to your emergent practices as artists, designers and craftspeople.

Week 8 to hand in – You will set up a support agreement within the group, meeting regularly to continue to share ideas, research, books etc and offer feedback, which is intended to be of great mutual benefit over the following weeks of self-study and individual tutorials.

Reading list

  • Appadurai, A, The Social Life of Things (Cambridge: CUP, 1986)
  • Baudrillard, J, trans. Benedict, J, The System of Objects (London & New York: Verso, 1996 [1968])
  • Chapman, J, Emotionally Durable Design: Objects, Experiences, and Empathy (London: Earthscan, 2005)
  • Dudley, S (ed), Museum Materialities: Objects, Engagements, Interpretations (Oxon: Routledge, 2009)
  • Fine, B, The World of Consumption: The Material and Cultural Revisited (Routledge, 2002)
  • Hallam, E, Hockey, J, Death, Memory and Material Culture (Oxford: Berg, 2001)
  • Hyde, L, The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World (Canongate Canons: Re-issue edition, 2012)
  • Karana, E, Pedgley, O, Rognoli, V, Materials Experience: Fundamentals of Materials and Design (Amsterdam: Butterworth–Heinemann, 2014)
  • Salminen, J, Trevor, M, Letcher, J, Scott, L, (eds), Materials for a Sustainable Future (Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, 2012)
  • Schwartzman, M, See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception (London: Black Dog Pub, 2011)
  • Simmel, G, The Metropolis and Mental Life (1903)
  • Sudjic, D, The Language of Things (London: Penguin, 2009)
  • Turkle, S, Evocative Objects: Things We Think With (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2011)


The words, "Shopping in a new light" against a plain black background.


Tutor Heidi Yeo

Dissertation Studios


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