Wednesday, 8 February 2017

TVAD Talks 2017 Update

TVAD hosts monthly research seminars, TVAD Talks, on the second Wednesday of each month during term time. A couple of changes have been made to the programme, so an update is timely. Please find details of the final three TVAD Talks for the 2016-17 academic year. TVAD Talks take place at 12.45 for 1 pm in room 1A159 (Lindop Building, College Lane campus), with a budget lunch provided. All are welcome to attend - please RSVP to the TVAD Research Group Leader, Dr Grace Lees-Maffei, for catering purposes.

Weds 8th February 2017 - Femke de Vries, HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, ( ‘DICTIONARY DRESSINGS: Clothing definitions decoded and translated towards alternative fashion perspectives’. Respondent: Professor Rebecca Houze, Northern Illinois University.

Dictionary definitions are generally experienced as factual and rational and in the case of clothing show no connection to the mythical character of fashion. They describe the characteristics of the items, the modes of use and/or the relation to the body but fashion or style is not mentioned. For example: “Handschoen: bekleding van de hand” (Literally translated to English as Glove: covering of the hand). It becomes clear that a hand can be covered by putting it in a pocket, by bandaging it or by sitting on it, turning a pair of trousers into a glove for they cover the hand and therefore suffice to the definition.In this on-going project the nature of the dictionary definition as a ‘zero condition’ of a piece of clothing is used not to find a general truth of a piece of clothing, but to re-read clothes and explore an alternative fashion vocabulary. This vocabulary will take the shape of an image archive, theoretical and design-led approaches by experts and students brought together in a publication, website, workshops and catalogues of these workshops.

Femke's TVAD Talk is available to view on 
 the University of Hertfordshire's YouTube Channel, in the Creative Arts Research playlist

Weds 15th March 2017 – Dr Grace Lees-Maffei, University of Hertfordshire, ‘The Written Object’

Words are constantly present throughout the design lifecycle. They accompany the design process, in formal client briefs, in informal exchanges between members of design teams, in CADCAM software and specifications. Words are used to market and advertise designed objects, images, and services. We use words to describe what we do within, and how we feel about, the designed environments in which we all exist. 

These verbal processes have been recognised to some extent by design historians in the field’s recent mediation turn. Since the Production-Consumption-Mediation paradigm was posited in 2009, new research has emphasised the importance of words in understanding design. Design journalism, for example, has been critically important in shaping the ways in which we conceive of, and consume, design. And web 2.0, for instance, has complicated the notions of authority upon which design journalism and design criticism have existed. Bloggers and vloggers are now recognised as prime influencers, and their influence extends more and more into mainstream media. 

We can identify some new directions for the study of the written object, or more inclusively, words and design. A small number of design historians are beginning to examine design journalism as worthy of academic analysis. The relationship between design and literature has so far remained largely untouched by design historians. Literary sources do not rely for their status, influence and authority upon the veracity with which they describe design, but they have a great deal to tell us about design, and design of the past. By the same token, we might examine the literary and aesthetic merit of design criticism and design journalism. Finally, I post a rhetorical question: Is it possible to communicate about design in a non-verbal way?

TVAD Talks are filmed for the University of Hertfordshire's YouTube Channel, in a Creative Arts Research playlist Here is Lees-Maffei's presentation, 'The Written Object':

Weds 10th May 2017 – Dr Nicolas P. Maffei, Norwich University of the Arts, ‘The Responsive Brand: Uniformity and Flexibility in Logo Design’

From the uniformity of modernism to the embrace of difference, this talk explores the historical shift from static to dynamic logos, from universal international brand identities to more flexible and responsive corporate personalities. This transformation occurred over a period extending from the nineteenth century to the present, and includes the roots of branding, the ideals of modernism, the emergence of the critical consumer, the development of the responsive corporation, and the co-creation of brands in online landscapes. From Peter Behrens’ designs for the German Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG), in 1907, considered the first corporate identity, to Paul Rand’s flexible and humanizing identity developed for International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) after WWII, this talk reviews the rise of the unchanging logo and, in turn, the multivalent brand-mark. In addition, the design responses of corporations to the vocal and ethically informed consumer are surveyed via the anti-branding movement, which has targeted Starbucks and McDonalds among other corporations. Nike is examined through local reinterpretations of the global brand. Gap’s failed logo of 2010 shows the power of the online consumer and the need for companies to listen and respond. Finally, brand reactions to the responsive consumer – characterized by chameleon-like logo transformation and an emphasis on user interaction and co-production of meaning, are investigated through the designs for telecommunications company Ollo (Bibliothèque, 2012), the identity for the Tate museums (Wolff Olins, 1999), and Experimental Jetset’s Responsive ‘W’ for The Whitney Museum (2011).

For more information, Contact Dr Grace Lees-Maffei, TVAD Research Group Leader and TVAD Talks Convenor, 

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