In its modern period, design has largely been aligned with urban experience. Undoubtedly design happens in rural areas and designers locate themselves outside cities to work. But the dominant idea and discourse of design is that it is professionally and most intensively practised in urban centres. This is to the point that they are seen or even encouraged to cluster together in 'creative quarters' within cities. In turn, this concentration itself becomes a way of symbolizing the modernity and progress of a city in a global marketplace. Classically, consumer culture is also represented as an urban, modern activity, represented at its most heightened instant through the moment of exchange. Shopping is, particularly beyond staple items such as food, is invariably presented as an urban pleasure and consuming itself becomes a validation of designerly, city living. The concept of a 'design culture' is also initially aligned with this process so that it suggests a spectacular interrelationship between the work of designers, the consumption of design and the processes of production and circulation. By contrast, the idea of the rural is represented as untainted and free of these dynamics. It is culturally constructed as a binary opposite to the city and therefore discursively set outside dominant notions of design culture. The time has come to rethink this binary while extending the field of where design culture might happen. The second part of this essay therefore attempts to re-orientate thinking away from consumption as being about acquiring or using up. Instead, it looks to consumption as involving networks of things and people where ‘no object is an island’. Consumption then becomes part of an expanded idea of everyday practice. By extension, we can think of alternative scales, dynamics, materialities, and, therefore, locations for design culture. These might be outside the urban and even disrupt the urban/rural divide.
|Title of host publication||The Vast Land of Design|
|Place of Publication||Peking|
|Publisher||Peking University Press|
|Number of pages||12|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Sep 2014|