26 January 2017 -

Feature: Unmaking Things 2017

Unmaking Things is a blog run by students of the MA History of Design course, jointly run by the Royal College of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Established in 2011 as a microsite under the full name 'Unmaking Things: a Design History Studio', it was conceived as 'an online studio within which students of the course could practice their craft'. Since then, it has passed on to the successive cohorts of second-year students, who would traditionally relaunch it annually with a new design. As scholars of a relatively young and multifaceted discipline, this practice has allowed for a changing platform, one that was constantly re-adapted to suit the diverse research interests of students. Every year, the blog has been directed in different ways, seeking a critical engagement with design in its diverse manifestations, and as a space to publish our work in an autonomous way.

Now in its sixth iteration, the current Unmaking Things editorial team intends to continue using the blog as a space to explore ideas relating to history of design, unrestricted to styles, object types, geography or time period. We have also set out to reflect the changes in our own curriculum, and to take advantage of the interdisciplinarity that lies at the core of design history - and the Royal College of Art as a whole. Perhaps most significantly, we would like to foster collaboration and directly engage with other students and academic courses, design practitioners, and museum curators, encouraging these groups to work alongside design historians on articles and other projects. Working with designers from the RCA Visual Communication course and a web developer, we have designed a platform that will facilitate these kinds of interactions; we welcome submissions from everyone interested in the subject, and hope to engage with communities across the country and beyond.

A screengrab of the Unmaking Things 2017 website.

This year, the editorial team uniquely consists of both first and second years, enabling Unmaking Things to grow and develop seamlessly through the interaction between cohorts. Rather than creating fixed themes or categories, we will issue a monthly keyword, with the aim of generating dynamic content that can easily be informed by or respond to the world outside of our personal research. To achieve this, Unmaking Things now includes multimedia formats, encompassing film, images and podcasts as regular content. We believe that design history can be written, narrated and traced in a variety of ways, and we want multimedia content to be a tool to express that. The new site is the combined efforts, not only from History of Design, but also of design practitioners and web developers, a process that offers the opportunity to create a complex product that reflects the nature of our practice.

Unmaking Things launches its 2017 reboot under the keyword 'Restarts'. Restarting is an opportunity to delve into the unknown, collaborate, and rejuvenate our ideas of what history of design is, and what it does. Restarting is a challenge, a risk, a premonition, a hope, an injection of adrenaline.

Vivien Chan, Sophie Chatellier and Andrea Foffa
Unmaking Things Editorial Team

Main image by Johanna Himmelsbach.

We welcome contributions from anyone interested in design history. For enquiries, suggestions, comments and ideas, please contact us at: unmakingthings@gmail.com, or through our social media: @unmakingthings.


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