Curating design : context, culture and reflective practice, 1980 - 2018

Loveday, Donna (2018) Curating design : context, culture and reflective practice, 1980 - 2018. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Curating design has become a fast-emerging and dynamic field of curatorial practice. This practice-informed PhD, which includes a thesis and a portfolio of work, seeks to understand and represent the practice of curating design. The thesis responds to developments in the field over the last four decades - the development of design-focused museums globally, an expanding design industry, the growing popularity of design exhibitions and new programmes to train curators, including design curators. These developments have been interpreted as part of a broader cultural shift or “curatorial turn.” However, their impact on the practice of curating design remains largely unexplored, despite being a growth area over the last twenty years. There is no comprehensive account of the history and development of the practice of curating design. The study derives from a substantial body of work extending over twentyfive years. Adopting the researcher’s methodology of “reflective practitioner”, the research provides a perspective on the more recent developments in design curating as practice and discourse within the context and culture of the Design Museum, London. It turns a critical eye on the processes, theories and methods of curating design through a focus on a single exhibition, "Hello, My Name is Paul Smith", curated for the Design Museum in 2013. This PhD submission comprises two parts; The Thesis (Part One) and a Portfolio of Work (Part Two). Part One comprises four chapters and serves to firmly locate the subject in its historical and cultural context, aiming to contribute to knowledge and understanding of the practice. The research presented in Chapters 1, 2 and 3 introduces and surveys rapid developments in the field of curatorial practice. Chapters 3 and 4 locate, introduce and discuss my individual research practice as a design curator. Part Two comprises a Portfolio of Work that forms a written, visual and oral record of the research-informed practice undertaken for the case study exhibition. The research material is presented on a CD included alongside the thesis. The intended outcome of this practice-informed research is to provide an enhanced understanding of curating design and its place in the museum. In so doing, it aims to contribute meaningfully to a growing historiography of design curation and to an understanding of the expanding role of the design curator.

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