Irish Design History and Material Culture

The Modern Irish Design History and Material Culture research cluster considers design and material culture broadly. It addresses the important work of researching the production of authored designed objects, systems and spaces in Ireland (and elsewhere); it further addresses the consumption of design and material culture as a site of meaning. As well as nativist production and consumption, it explores deterritorialised networks of exchange.

‘Modern’ could be taken in a temporal sense to mean in the modern era, from the Cromwellian settlements of the mid-seventeenth century, in relation to industrialization from the late Eighteenth Century or in relation to the post-Famine era from the mid-nineteenth Century. Conceptually and in relation to these, it could be understood as modernity. In the Irish context, this provides an opportunity to examine alter or non-hegemonic modernities; in relation to design this might mean the proto-industrialisation of certain manufacturing methods in the eighteenth century, the relationship of a non-industrialised and predominantly agrarian economy in relation to mass manufacture elsewhere, or the use of modern techniques of manufacture, distribution and consumption to supposedly archaic ends as in the case of Catholicism from the mid-nineteenth century.

By addressing both the reflective and productive capacities of design and material culture, this thematic ultimately brings greater understanding of the habitus that structures everyday life and our relationship to materiality.