Introduction to the Unit

Why do we study de­sign his­tory?

Design his­tory is a tool we can use to un­der­stand our own work bet­ter. It helps us un­der­stand what it means to be mod­ern. We need to be ac­tive about knowl­edge, chal­lenge it. Knowledge is not for know­ing, knowl­edge is for cut­ting”

Industrial rev­o­lu­tion

The in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion brought huge changes in agri­cul­ture and in­dus­try. Modernity is about progress.

Andrews Thomas Gainsborough: Mr and Mrs Andrews, 1750

Darby Casting Iron pots - iron mass pro­duc­tion

Painting of a village lit by coal fires Coalbrookdale by night 1801

With in­dus­trial progress comes change to the way peo­ple live

Separation of Labour

Way of pro­duc­tion that al­lows each worker to fo­cus on just one small task. This al­lows for greater pro­duc­tiv­ity, the use of spe­cialised ma­chines. Leads to a loss of own­er­ship, the in­di­vid­ual worker has no con­nec­tion to the fi­nal prod­uct.

moder­nity is about adopt­ing an at­ti­tude to change


dur­ing the 1800s, peo­ple re­treat­ing to the past vase wedgwood vase in­vented the cat­a­logue pretty much

slav­ery medal

chrys­tal palace hyde park

Adrian Forly, Objects of de­sire watt, fab­ric pro­duc­tion

mod­ernism has its root in en­light­en­ment


Starting with the in­ven­tion of the elec­tri­cal tele­graph, glob­al­i­sa­tion has taken the sep­a­ra­tion of labour to a new level.

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Jennifer Baichwal: Manufactured Landscapes (Opening Sequence), 2008