After a Broken Leg: Jurgen Bey's Do Add Chair and the Everyday Life of Performative Things

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This discussion considers the way in which objects can be said to be function in an ideological manner and examines the way in which it is possible for designers to intervene in this operation. It is argued that Jurgen Bey’s Do Add chair is best understood as an example of a prototype that serves to illustrate the effect of frustrating the expectations of efficiency inherent in our interactions with commodities. Not as a form of artistic statement or as the spur for rational critique, but as a specialised form of product design that concentrates on function. By showing how an act of appropriation such as that effected in the Do Add chair is different in nature to that which occurs within the discourse of art, design’s particular relationship to function is demonstrated. Through the observation that the functioning of use objects takes place in the context of a wider material culture or physical everyday life, such functioning is then located in an ideological field of operation, which it is argued sets the parameters of the possible in relation to physical things. In elaborating the concept of performative function it is suggested that the material performativity of an object, its physical interpellation of the subject and its incitement of them to act in a particular manner, occurs because material things can be said to act in a certain way, and that such behaviours serve to constitute human subjectivity. It is then argued that the Do Add chair can be understood as a designed object the performative function of which has been altered to change the quality of interaction that any user may experience in encountering it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-374
Number of pages18
JournalDesign and Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2013


  • Jurgen Bey
  • performative
  • function
  • appropriation
  • everyday life


Dive into the research topics of 'After a Broken Leg: Jurgen Bey's Do Add Chair and the Everyday Life of Performative Things'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this