3 April 2019 -
As Vivien and Simon's roles as DHS Ambassadors come to an end to make room for a new team, they reflect on two fruitful years of representing the Society.
Since starting as a DHS Ambassador, it has been a whirlwind. We went full speed into the Making and Unmaking the Environment conference in Oslo in 2017, live-tweeting and posting on our Instagram account with the goal of sharing the events of the week with scholars elsewhere. From the beginning, I was keen to try new things, engage with different digital spaces, and write design history into some of the everyday experiences. A particular highlight of 2017 was exploring architecture in the city, and finding relationships between the materiality of local architecture and the ideas drawn from the conference.
On completing my MA, and starting teaching and then a PhD in a History Department in 2018, the DHS has been my way of staying connected with the discipline and continuing my practice as a design historian. Material culture became apparent where I didn't initially expect, such as at the Resonating Occupation Workshop, organised by my colleagues at University of Nottingham. Reviewing the workshop on the DHS blog was helpful for me to keep thinking about design history while somewhat outside of the discipline, challenging me to rethink how I might consider objects and materials. These challenges were further explored at our conference in New York, Design and Displacement, where we were called to action to reflect on our role as citizens, scholars, and teachers. I felt lucky to witness such great keynotes from people of colour challenging their own systems in their own ways. I was also excited by the opportunity to work with fellow students from across the pond, organising a successful tour of The City Reliquary to end our trip to New York with hope and excitement for the future.
I have had a fantastic time as one of the DHS Ambassadors for the last two years, and it has been a pleasure to work with both new and familiar faces. I would particularly like to thank Zara Arshad for all the time and guidance she has given us, and for the trust she put in us to share some of the happenings of the DHS. Thanks to Simon Spiers and Lydia Caston for being trusty companions and collaborators, and to the entire DHS Committee for the fantastic opportunities we have had over the last two years. I look forward to working with the DHS in the future, and to seeing what the next team of Ambassadors have in store!
The experience of being a DHS Ambassador since April 2017 has been one of constant reward. Firstly through representing and communicating the discipline of Design History to a huge range of people - on the front line, so to speak - but also, being part of a community of design historians, and seeing how they support and learn from one another and inspire the next generation of researchers.
Particular highlights for me are the two DHS-organised conferences we were able to attend as DHS Ambassadors, in Oslo and New York City, running the social media and networking events for undergraduate and postgraduate students and Early Career Researchers. I found these experiences to be particularly pivotal in my time as an Ambassador in making personal links to other design historians and feeling an immediate and tangible effect of the work we were undertaking, as well as hearing first hand the cutting-edge research we were promoting. This has also been invaluable to my own growth as a PhD student. Nevertheless, it was also a privilege to be involved in some of the events closer to home, such as the many DHS meetings and study days in which it felt very much that the Ambassadors were contributing to shaping the direction and mission of the Society's constitution.
Finally, it has been a genuine joy to work closely with my fellow Ambassador Vivien and other committee members of the DHS, particularly Zara Arshad who has worked tirelessly to create opportunities for us, to ensure we were involved as much as possible and, importantly, that we develop our own personal and professional skills through the role. I would immediately encourage anyone who is interested to apply for this role as I have no doubt they will enjoy it as much as I did.
Vivien Chan and Simon Spiers
DHS Ambassadors (2017-2019)