The commodity of trade in contemporary design

Innella, Giovanni (2014) The commodity of trade in contemporary design. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This research explores the intersection between the design industry and the ubiquitous media and events industry, focusing on the context of design characterized by limited editions and one-off artefacts. The increasingly growing manifestation of this type of design in the media and the media in design – has an impact on the way certain designers conceive and practice their profession, and on the design industry as a whole. The aim of this PhD is to provide an understanding of such impact. In doing so, this thesis answers the main question:

What commodities (intended as the ensemble of goods, values, competencies and services) are traded in the contemporary design industry and by whom?

As a result, this research expands the notion of the design process beyond the artefact, highlighting the role that its representation in the media and events has in the process. Furthermore, this study provides new understanding on the media profile within the design industry. The designers' media profile entails popularity and prestige. It indicates the extent of the audience and the level of status; it is quantity and quality at the same time. To express this with the terminology used in this thesis, a well constructed media profile infers reputation besides visibility.

In fact, reputation and visibility emerge as central commodities for trade. As visibility and reputation are the fuel that feeds the contemporary design industry, then the power of the media has proven crucial, allowing a fluidity of roles in the design industry. The research witnesses the way actors conventionally belonging to the media industry are now able to commission new content to feature in their publications and events and monetize from this. The thesis concludes with the observation that some designers are also starting to monetize from their presence in exhibitions, by demanding loan and participation fees. Conclusively, this thesis critically highlights the need to reconsider the roles of each actor involved in the design industry according to the trade of such immaterial commodities.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: design, representation of design, design in the media, contemporary design, design industry
Subjects: W200 Design studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Design
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
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Depositing User: Ellen Cole
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2014 15:43
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2023 15:22

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