Design Matters: Treasuring the past, enhancing the future

designmattersnetworkThis is a network created around the theme of design. ‘Nostalgic design’ is a subset of affective or emotional design, which exerts a profound impact on academic design research, heritage and contemporary craft practice, and on public consumption of, and engagement with, design. Hitherto, design research has been pioneered by the creative and visual arts, but this project seeks to create meaningful interdisciplinary dialogue across the arts and humanities and between experienced and emerging researchers through the WRoCAH network.

Network Lead:  Dr Bruce Carnie, University of Leeds

Institution Student Studentship Topic Principal Supervisor Second Supervisor
York Charlotte Bradshaw The Open Air Museum: building future capacity in craft and conservation from the past Dr Kate Giles (Archaeology, York) Professor Dawn Hadley (Archaeology, Sheffield)
Leeds TBC The use of nostalgia at the ideation stage of the design process Dr Bruce Carnie (School of Design, Leeds) Dr Oleg Benesch (History, York)
Sheffield Ian Trowell Pasts, Presents and Futures at the Fairground Dr Stephen Walker (Architecture, Sheffield) Professor Tom Cassidy (School of Design, Leeds)

This multidisciplinary network involves staff from The School of Design at the University of Leeds; the Department of Archaeology and the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield, and the Departments of Archaeology and History at the University of York. The connection between these researchers is the belief that it is important for society to examine critically what has gone before, in terms of traditional craft organisations, design processes, patterns and products in order to strategically inform the future support and development of heritage craft design in both the historic environment sector and the contemporary market place.

The project seeks to create a meaningful network by bringing together supervisors and students exploring distinctive but complementary aspects of ‘nostalgic design’ from specialist centres across the White Rose partners.

The Use of Nostalgia at the Ideation Stage of the Design Process

This study proposes to explore the underlying relationship between nostalgia and contemporary design. The core objective is to propose or suggest a strategic framework to support the use of nostalgia at the ideation stage of the design process.

The Leeds members are drawn from the Centre for Visual Communications and includes the network’s academic lead, Dr Bruce Carnie who researches design and mass customisation (textile related), design as strategy, design and sustainable technology (textile related), design thinking, design futures, design and identity, and design and communication. Professor Tom Cassidy of Leeds brings 35 years of teaching and research experience (including grants from EPSRC and AHRC), and the supervision of PhD students in the investigation of traditional patterns and the use of reverse and intermediate technology, to the network.

Pasts, Presents and Futures at the Fairground

This PhD will explore the complex dynamics of ‘false’ and ‘true’ pasts encountered in the material and visual culture of the fairground. Different groups might experience nostalgia for different pasts (extant or extinct) while other aspects of the fair continue to provide novelty.

The Sheffield partners are Professor Dawn Hadley, an historical archaeologist with a strong track record in public engagement through projects such as the HEFCHE HEIF Sheffield Manor Lodge project; and Dr Stephen Walker, an architect currently engaged in RIBA-funded research on the tangible and intangible heritage of travelling street fairs based on the National Fairground Archive.

Heritage Crafts in Folk Life Museums: Nostaligia or Heritage Training?

This project seeks to measure the impact of the heritage crafts supported by UK’s leading Folk Life Museums, as a form of nostalgia for the past, but also as essential training for the UK’s cultural heritage industry in the future.

The York staff are Dr Katherine Giles, an historic buildings specialist, with experience in supporting academic partnerships with key heritage sites such as Stratford-upon-Avon Guildhall and York Minster; and Dr Oleg Benesch, a specialist in the transnational history of modern East Asia, whose work examines the manifestations and influence of nostalgia in Japan and China ca. 1600-1900.

A timely exploration of ‘nostalgic design’

The project is timely because it seeks to explore how concepts of ‘nostalgic design’ can inform current and future design processes and practices in the heritage sector and the modern marketplace. In this way, the project responds directly to the AHRC’s strategic priority of Design research and its Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past theme. The network also addresses the theme of Translating Cultures, in its transnational scope and its interdisciplinary remit.

It builds on a series of successful White Rose and other funded projects led by Professor Hadley, which explore the relationships between past industrial processes and modern heritage practice, evidenced through the White Rose network Performing the Past, and her collaborative work with the newly opened social history museum in Barnsley (Experience Barnsley) funded by the Museums Association Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund.