2 September 2018
A conference jointly supported by the Design History Society, the European Architectural History Network, and the Architecture Space and Society Centre (Birkbeck).
6-8 June 2019, Clore Business School (Birkbeck), London
"I think that cars today are almost the exact equivalent of the great Gothic cathedrals: I mean the supreme creation of an era, conceived with passion by unknown artists, and consumed in image if not in usage by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object". Roland Barthes, 1957
This two-day conference will explore old, new and future interconnections between Design History and Architectural History. It will address the disciplines' shared historiography, theory, forms of analysis and objects of critical enquiry, and draw attention to how recent developments in the one can have significant implications for the other. It will attend to areas of difference, in order, ultimately to identify new areas for discussion and set future agendas for research between the disciplines.
The distinction between design history and architectural history is to some extent an artificial one, given the many ties between designed objects and designed spaces, as well as between those who design and make the former and those who design and make the latter, but it follows certain disciplinary and professional developments. These are manifest, for instance, in the separate existence of the Design History Society and the European Architectural History Network, two of the sponsors of this conference.
In one art historical tradition – Kunstwissenschaft, or the critical history of art – the objects of design and architecture (as well as fine art objects), which are now usually separated out as requiring specialist study, were considered of equal significance and requiring equal attention. It was this tradition that provided some of the founding figures for both present-day design history and present-day architectural history – Semper, Riegl, Panofsky, Pevsner, among them (even later figures like Reyner Banham might be understood as displaced products of this tradition.) And the separation of expertise was also largely alien to the connoisseurial and antiquarian traditions. We can understand the turning away from these traditions of interdisciplinarity as an inevitable effect of emergent disciplinary identities as much as of worked-out theories. But there are untapped residues, as well as new developments that may prove fertile ground for collaboration. What are we learning about materialities, about globalising perspectives, or about new forms of writing, for instance, that may benefit both disciplines? Furthermore, does the very separation of design and architectural history distort or falsely dichotomise their objects? Can their co-existence be worked into current rubrics for interdisciplinarity, or do older co-disciplines disqualify themselves?
We invite proposals for individual papers (of 20 minutes length) in any area that productively engages with the aims of the conference and we would especially like to see papers in the following areas:
- Historiographic entanglements and coincidences
- Everyday environments
- Ornament from object to building (and back)
- Objects on exhibition/buildings on exhibition
- Micro to macro-macro to micro
Deadline for abstracts – 15 November 2018.
Abstracts (maximum 500 words). Papers will not be accepted that have already been accepted for another conference, or that have been published or accepted for publication.
Abstracts, with a two page CV, should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.