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Peter Saville: Abstraction and Design

"Legendary designer Peter Saville says abstract art is part of our everyday lives. From Kasimir Malevich and his Black Square through to contemporary product design, in an exclusive film for BBC Arts Online he makes the argument that modern devices such as iPods owe their shape and feel to pioneers of Abstraction, via the fundamental building blocks of the Bauhaus and Dieter Rams."




20th century design • Apple iPod • Bauhaus School • BBC Arts Online • black squaredesign history • Design Museum London • Dieter RamsFactory Recordsgraphic designiPodJonathan IveKazimir Malevich • mainstream culture • Marcel Breuer • mass production • Model B3 chair • modern devices • modernist design principles • our relationship to technology • Peter Saville • pioneers of abstraction • product design • reductionist aesthetics • shape and feel • Suprematismvisual abstractionvisual simplicity • Wassily Chair


Simon Perkins
20 MARCH 2013

Radical Pedagogies in Architectural Education

"Pedagogical experiments played a crucial role in shaping architectural discourse and practice in the second half of the 20th century. In fact, the key hypothesis of our Radical Pedagogy[1] research project is that these experiments can be understood as radical architectural practices in their own right. Radical in the literal meaning from the Latin radice, as something belonging or relating to the root, to its foundations. Radical pedagogies shake foundations, disturbing assumptions rather than reinforcing and disseminating them. This challenge to normative thinking was a major force in the postwar field of architecture, and has surprisingly been neglected in recent years. ...

Architectural pedagogy has become stale. Schools spin old wheels as if something is happening but so little is going on. Students wait for a sense of activist engagement with a rapidly evolving world but graduate before it happens. The fact that they wait for instruction is already the problem. Teachers likewise worry too much about their place in the institutional hierarchies. Curricular structures have hardly changed in recent decades, despite the major transformations that have taken place with the growth of globalisation, new technologies, and information culture. As schools appear to increasingly favour professionalisation, they seem to drown in self–imposed bureaucratic oversight, suffocating any possibility for the emergence of experimental practices and failures. There are a few attempts to wake things up here and there but it's all so timid in the end. There is no real innovation.

In response to the timidity of schools today, the Radical Pedagogy project returns to the educational experiments of the 1960s and '70s to remind us what can happen when pedagogy takes on risks. It's a provocation and a call to arms."

(Beatriz Colomina with Esther Choi, Ignacio Gonzalez Galan and Anna–Maria Meister, 28 September 2012, The Architectural Review)

1). Radical Pedagogy is an ongoing multi–year collaborative research project by a team of PhD candidates in the School of Architecture at Princeton University, led by Beatriz Colomina and involving seminars, interviews and guest lectures by protagonists and scholars. The project explores a remarkable set of pedagogical experiments of the 1960s and '70s that revolutionised thinking in the discipline. Each student is working on one of these experiments and collectively mapping the interconnections and effects of these experiments towards a major publication and exhibition.

Fig.1 Tournaments in the Course 'Culture of the Body', at the Valparaíso School, 1975. Courtesy of Archivo Histórico Jose Vial, Escuela Arquitectura y Diseño, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso



1960s1970s20th centuryacademic disciplinesactivism • Alberto Perez-Gomez • Alexander Girard • Alexis Josic • alternative visions • Anna-Maria Meister • architectural discourse • architectural educationarchitectural pedagogyarchitectural practice • architectural radicalism • architecturearchitecture schoolsartificial intelligence • autochthonous tools • Beatriz Colomina • brave new worldBuckminster Fullerbureaucratic reduction • bureaucratic structures • call to arms • capitalist structures • Cedric Price • challenging conventionsCharles Eamescold war • collective defiance • conceptual speculation • consumable plastics • conventional logicconventionalityconventions • cultural milieu • cultural transformation • curricular structures • curriculum innovation • cybernetics • Dalibor Vesely • Daniel Libeskind • David Leatherbarrow • decentralised university • Denise Scott Brown • design disciplinedesign educationdesign formalismdesign fundamentalism • disciplinary assumptions • disciplinary limits • disciplinary protocols • disciplinary self-reflexivity • emerging practices • Emilio Ambasz • Esther Choi • experimental pedagogy • experimental practices • experimental teachinggeopolitical landscape • George Candilis • George Nelson • Germano Celant • Giancarlo De Carlo • Gillo Dorfles • globalisationGyorgy KepesHannah Arendthegelian dialecticHenri Lefebvrehermeneutics • Ignacio Gonzalez Galan • information culture • institutional authority • institutional critique • institutional hierarchies • institutionalisation • instrumentality • Jean Baudrillard • Joseph Rykwert • linguisticsman machine • mass produced desire • mass productionmodernist tradition • Mohsen Mostafavi • new social ordernew technologiesNicholas Negroponte • non-architecture • non-school • Octavio Paz • pedagogical experiments • pedagogical institutions • pedagogy • pedagogy experiments • phenomenology • post-technological society • professionalisation • progressive pedagogical initiatives • provocationquestioning traditions • radical architectural pedagogies • radical architectural pedagogy • radical architectural practices • radical pedagogical experiments • radical pedagogies • radical pedagogy • radical practice • radical practices • radical strategies • radical upheaval • radicality • radice • rapidly evolving world • Ray Eamesreconceptualisationredesigningreinterpretationresearch project • retreat into formalism • return to order • Robin Evans • science fictionself-reflexivity • Shadrach Woods • socio-political • socio-political efficacy • spaceships • speculative interventionsspeculative proposalssubversive actions • Suzanne Keller • taking risks • techno-utopia • technological • technological advancestechnological determinism • Texas Rangers • The Architectural Review • transformational engagementUmberto Ecoutopian perspectiveutopian technological prophecyVietnam war


Simon Perkins
03 JULY 2012

BTS Design d'Espace Toulon: Junk Playground

"Lors des bombardements allemand de la seconde guerre mondiale, Londres à été une des villes les plus détruite. On y trouvait fréquemment des espaces vide crée entre deux immeubles démolis et bourrés de gravats. Ces espaces vides, terrains vagues, en friche, "poubelles" en attente d'être reconstruit furent pendant une période des espaces de terrains de jeux consacré exclusivement aux enfants. L'idée était de donner un lieu spécifique pour que les enfants à la fois s'exprime librement, évite l'ennuie et l'inactivité qui peuvent conduire à la délinquance et participe à leurs façon à la période de reconstruction.

Ces terrains d'aventures, appelés Junk playground (terrains vague) ont été des espaces de libertés encadré ou les enfants construisirent à partir des gravats des "sculptures installation et autres inventions".

La fabrication par lui même (de l'enfant) de ses propres jeux par la maîtrise des outils (marteau, scie...) furent une expérience inédite et fondamentale dans l'approche citoyenne et pédagogique du rôle du jeu comme source d'épanouissement et d'éveil des consciences. La liberté quasi anarchique de ces terrains, laissant à l'enfant la responsabilité de ses actes, en étant acteur de sa propre aventures comme facteur de régénération pour une société pacifié, sans violence ou chacun peut s'exprimer et trouver sa place de citoyen. Cette expérience éphémère n'a pas survécu aux règles de sécurité, aux normes. Mais aussi aux formatages d'équipements modulaires produits en masse ou l'enfant n'est plus l'acteur (car exclu du processus de conception) mais simple utilisateur, spectateur, consommateur et non plus comme citoyen."

(Éric Malaterre, 03/01/2011, BTS Design d'Espace Toulon)



Simon Perkins
27 MARCH 2011

Wisdom of the Masses' perception of the web, can in some cases promote content perceived to be useless over content perceived as useful

"According to the 'long tail' principle, ICT innovations in content creation and distribution such as virtual inventories, Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and other types of video on demand, music self–publishing in social networking sites and digital printing challenge old rationales that justified the adoption of mass–market models for the production and publication of cultural goods. These technologies dissolve the spatial and physical constraints which limited the range of creative content goods available in the market and open the gates for a flood of new (and old) media. In doing so they have created a new problem, of a navigational nature: in principle, diversity enables access to content goods better suited to a customer's preferences, but it also makes finding them more difficult (194).

The main reason for the success of Google's search services has been its ability to address Internet users' need for relevant resources, by adopting a scalable algorithm that establishes a webpage's rank according to its reputation. However, its user interface is still too rigid and makes it difficult, for example, to fully specify the type of content a user is looking for. Additionally, this technique, based on a 'Wisdom of the Masses' perception of the web, can in some cases promote content perceived to be useless over content perceived as useful, and be tampered with through search optimisation techniques such as link farming (195)."

(Juan Mateos–Garcia, Aldo Geuna and W. Edward Steinmueller, 2008, p.85)

194: In a context where information is abundant, attention becomes the scarce resource (Simon, H. A. 1971, 'Designing Organizations for an Information–Rich World', in Martin Greenberger, Computers, Communication, and the Public Interest, Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Pres).

195: i.e. exchanging reciprocal links with web sites in order to increase search engine optimization, as search engines often rank sites according to, among other things, the quantity of sites that link to them.

Fig.1 Perry Ogden (2003). 'Bono with Louis Le Brocquy'.

2). Fabienne Abadie, Ioannis Maghiros, and Corina Pascu (editors) 2008 'The Future Evolution of the Creative Content Industries: Three Discussion Papers', Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, EUR 23633 EN – 2008



2007 • consumer demand • content creationcontent distributioncreative content • creative content sector • creative goods • cultural goods • cultural spacesdigital printingdiscoverabilitydiscussion paper • dominant business models • EPIS06 • ETEPS • Europe • European Perspectives on the Information Society • European Techno-Economic Policy Support • evolutionevolution of ICTGoogle IncICTinnovation • Institute for Prospective Technological Studies • Internet Protocol Television • IPTS • IPTV • Joint Research Centre • JRC • link farming • long tail • mass production • mass-market models • metadata • music self-publishing • navigationnavigation systemnetworkold mediapolicy makerspolicy makingpopular votepopularity rankingproductionpublicationrecommendationrepositoryreputation • scalable algorithm • searchsearch engine optimisationsearch servicesocial networking • strategic intelligence • The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies • video on demandvirtual inventories • webpage rank • wisdom of the masses


Simon Perkins
15 FEBRUARY 2011

19th century design education funding central to the establishment of the UK creative industries

"The Industrial Revolution had established the United Kingdom as a world leader in manufacturing technology which had allowed British products to gain sizeable markets both at home and abroad. The early nineteenth century was to see those markets starting to be threatened by the establishment of free trade agreements between the UK and mainland Europe which allowed tariff concessions on the exchange of goods. European products began to compete alongside British products with increasing success which was attributed to their superiority in 'design' a feature it was felt that British products lacked.

The age of the 'foreign competitor' had arrived and British manufacturers seeing their livelihoods threatened became a powerful political lobby with the matter soon receiving Parliamentary attention. In 1835 Parliament called for a Select Committee to, 'Enquire into the best means of extending a knowledge of the Arts and the principles of Design among the people, especially the manufacturing population of the country.'(1835–6 Select Committee title)

The Committee investigated the situation taking evidence over a two year period 1835–6 with witnesses representing Art, Design, Industry and Education from both the UK and abroad. In 1836 it was to conclude that the successful continental countries were funding Design Education for their manufacturing industries while the UK was not. The Committee were to recommend that Parliament vote £10,000 to establish a Government School of Design in London with further annual funding to establish a network of provincial Schools in the major industrial centres of the country. It was hoped that as the Schools of Design as they became established would encourage the Applied Arts and Design and improve the aesthetic quality of British products thus influencing trade."

(Edward Bird, 2000)

Bird, E. (2000). "Research in Art and Design: the first decade", Working Papers in Art and Design Vol 1 Retrieved 15/02/2011 from ISSN 1466–4917

Fig.1 Roberts' Self–Acting Mule: sixty years later, the machine achieves the triumph of the factory system.



1835 • 1836 • 19th century • aesthetic quality • applied artsart and designcommoditycreative economycreative industriesdesigndesign educationdesign schoolseducation • Edward Bird • enterpriseEuropefactory • foreign competitor • free trade • Government School of Designindustrial centresindustrial educationindustrial revolutionindustrialisationindustryinnovationLondonmanufacturingmanufacturing industriesmanufacturing technologymass productionmechanisationpioneering • provincial schools • Select Committee • tradeUKWorking Papers in Art and Design


Simon Perkins

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