Edited By Kjerstin Aukrust
Part 3:Constructing Aesthetic Value
Part 3: Constructing Aesthetic Value 135 Culture by Design: Co-Constructing Material and Meaning Kjetil Fallan Aluminium is one of the twentieth century’s preeminent materials, and how it has been transformed into meaningful objects by way of design speaks volumes about the modern era’s material culture. The co-construction of material and meaning that characterises everyday objects can be described, thus, as a culture by design. Kitchenware is not only an excellent example of such everyday ob- jects, but also a particularly prominent product category for the aluminium con- sumer goods industry. It is therefore well suited as a focal point when exploring how aluminium products have been mediated and assigned cultural value through negotiations between technology, design, and market. By focusing on a common and ‘ordinary’ material, new insights can be gained on our relationship to things, technology, and consumption. We find aluminium in everything from cheap cooking utensils to sophisticated spacecraft and exclusive handicraft. In all instances, design is paramount in the cultural valuation of alu- minium. It is through the production, mediation, and consumption of design that industrial products achieve meaning and are woven into society and culture. Focusing on one particular material is a road less travelled in cultural history. Whereas the other preeminent material of modern design – plastic – has been the subject of some such studies,1 aluminium remains only sporadically explored from a cultural history perspective.2 Elizabeth Shove et al. have argued that 1 Jeffrey L. Meikle, American Plastic: A Cultural History (New Brunswick: Rutgers University...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.