Framing Design Narratives: Collecting

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This paper is concerned with the ways in which domestic objects are collected, interpreted and translated into narratives in the museum space in comparison with the domestic space of the home. If museum exhibitions generate curatorial practices and narrative systems of description that involve classifications, categories, genres, and modes of representations based mostly on history, function and use; the space of the home represents the postproduction of a private emotional history. In both cases cultural products are embedded in narratives dependant on various forms of collecting. As critic Nicolas Bourriaud observed, human society is structured by narratives that translate communal lifestyles which promote ‘collective values and visions of the world.’ Following Jean Baudrillard notion on collecting, that what is possessed is always the ‘pure object’, an object abstracted from its function and use it follows that through collecting, objects are transformed into a kind of poetry. As the result of well-proved practices, traditional tools represent materialisations of these narratives, belong to a field of practical mediations compensating for the disappearance of the symbolic relationship man-tool; accompanied by a concomitant abstractness of human praxis with respect to objects. Arranging, classifying and manipulating, searching, ordering, playing and assembling requires an intimacy with the privileged object. Contemporary curatorial practices aim to ‘reedit historical or ideological narratives, inserting the elements that compose them into alternative scenarios’ .
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
JournalWriting Design: Object, Process, Discourse, Translation
Issue numbern/a
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 3 Sept 2009

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Bourriaud, N. 2002. Postproduction. New York: Lukas and Sternberg
Nicholas Bourriaud notes, “High culture relies on an ideology of framing and the pedestal, on the exact delineation of the objects it promotes, enshrined in categories and regulated by codes of presentation”.
Clarke, A. Taste Wars and Design Dilemmas: Aesthetic Practice in the Home. In Painter, C. (ed.) Contemporary Art and the Home. Berg, King’s Lynn 2002: 146
Pierre Bourdieu says: ‘nothing is more distinctive, more distinguished than the capacity to confer aesthetic status on objects that are banal or even ‘common’ (because ‘common’ people make them their own)”
Baudrillard, J.1996 [1986]. The System of Objects, tr. J. Benedict, London: Verso 1968, pp164. Baudrillard considers the collection of objects as a passion – the passion for private property and emotional investment.


  • systems of description
  • immaterial scenarios
  • the privileged object
  • cultural practice
  • human praxis
  • domestic collections


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