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affirmative vs. critical design

banal quotidian   the everyday   ordinary   mundane   common  

the everyday Â

“Even though it functions as a bustling bazaar, visually Amazon is a cold hard place devoid of images of people or the circumstances in which the goods might be used. These reviews provide the disembodied objects with human context — verbal mise-en-scenes — in which they can be imagined more vividly.”

the everyday: interrogating the obvious

It would have been less cumbersome, in the account I am giving here of a specific lunch hour several years ago, to have pretended that the bag thought had come to me complete and “all at once� at the foot of the up escalator, but the truth was it was only the latest in a fairly long sequence of partially forgotten, inarticulable experiences, finally now reaching a point that I paid attention to it for the first time. Nicholson Baker, The Mezzanine (New York: Vintage Books, 1986)

coffee table: repository of the everyday

the everyday Â

“The everyday is the most universal and the most unique condition, the most social and the most individuated, the most obvious and the best hidden.� Henri Lefebvre, 1987


things "the study through artefacts of the beliefs — values, ideas, attitudes, and assumptions — of a particular community or society at a given time.” Jules Prown, Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method, 1982

things the “conglomerate clutter of artefacts that make up the totality of the physical world, not as a raw mass of matter, but as material culture with human association in as much as it is informed by meanings as fundamental as identity, life and death.� Judy Attfield, Wild Things, 2001

things may be “unobtrusive and escape attention” but “they are nevertheless instrumental in the literal and grounded sense of mediating the link between people and artefacts and therefore between the human worlds of the mental and the physical.” Judy Attfield, Wild Things, 2001

“The professional soldier dedicates himself to heroism. The army prepares itself for war; that is its aim and its purpose. And yet moments of combat and opportunities to be heroic are thin on the ground. The army has its everyday life: life in barracks and more precisely life among the troops… Henri Lefebvre, “Clearing the Ground,” 1961

This everyday life is not without its importance in relation to dreams of heroism and the fine moral ideal of the professional soldier. It is the springboard for sublime actions…There is a saying that army life is made up of a lot of boredom and a couple of dangerous moments.” Henri Lefebvre, “Clearing the Ground,” 1961

Jan Vermeer, Girl Asleep at a Table, Dutch, c. 1657

Jim Jarmusch, Stranger than Paradise, 1984

“Design brings life into otherwise dull objects and tasks.�

Philippe Starck Juicy Salif for Alessi

“A common perception of design is that it is a special effect, a false nose added to the artifacts of everyday life, the invention of useless stuff.� Design-LESS, DesignInquiry 2009

OXO Good Grips swivel peeler

the straw: paper or plastic?

“Little bag for that?”

Small mom  and  pop  shopkeepers…ins1nc1vely  shrouded  whatever  solo   item  you  bought—a  box  of  pasta  shells,  a  quart  of  milk,  a  pan  of  Jiffy   Pop,  a  loaf  of  bread,  in  a  bag:  food  meant  to  be  eaten  indoors,  they  felt,   should  be  seen  only  indoors.  But  even  aEer  ringing  up  things  like   cigareFes  or  ice  cream  bars,  obviously  meant  for  ambulatory   consump1on,  they  oEen  prompted,  “liFle  bag?”  “Small  bag?”  “liFle  bag   for  that?”—bagging  evidently  was  used  to  mark  the  exact  point  at  which   1tle  to  the  ice  cream  bar  passed  to  the  buyer.  

[A] widely understood metaphor both for viewing and for being viewed. – John Maeda

Diller Scofidio  +  Renfro,  The  Brasserie,  New  York  City  (2002)  and  The  ICA,  Boston  

A screen which itself could be a filter; a frame; a lens; a stage; a mirror or a canvas; a window or a mask; a point of departure; or an inescapable destination; a civilization unto itself. – John Maeda

Taxi TV: New York City

the digital everyday

the everyday the “region where goods come into confrontation with needs which have more or less been transformed into desires.” Henri Lefebvre, “Clearing the Ground,” 1961

Week Two: the everyday  

interrogating the obvious