22 May 2013

design: down through the generations



I want to tell you about this interesting and really beautiful graduation project by Steinrún Ótta Stefánsdóttir. She just graduated as a project designer from the Icelandic Academy of the Arts. Her piece is the result of her research into an old cupboard, its movements, purposes, and owners through time. Her wish was to promote reflection on the level of production in today’s world, encourage people to rethink their possessions and to increase value through history and memory. By recording an object’s “biography,” both its lifespan and perceived value can be increased through the history recorded in the object itself.  By keeping our possessions with us twice as long as originally intended, we can reduce unnecessary consumption and production by half. If we pass objects down through the generations, their utilization will have a positive impact on the environment. This piece is therefore a tribute to objects with history. It encourages people to be discerning consumers, and to rethink the value of the past in a modern context. Click the read more button to read the whole story of the cupboard. 





My great-great grandmother, Guðrún Jónsdóttir, lived at Syðrivík in Vopnafjörður at the end of the 19th century. Just after 1880 she and her husband had a closet built, which was kept in the combined living- and bedroom of their turf-walled farmhouse and stored their best clothes. Since then, the closet has passed from family member to family member, shipped back and forth across the country via horses and cars. sturdy in whatever role it was given.
My research into the history of the closet was an evocative process. It involved various measurements of size and the various layers of paint, and research on crafting, materials, composition, and details such as the hinges, key-hole and repairs. I researched family trees, the various owners, what was kept in the closet at each time, as well as the closet’s “travels” across country: shipping methods, destinations 1880-2013, old photographs, meeting with a psychic and much more.
This piece is the result of my research. I wish to promote reflection on contemporary society’s immoderate consumption, encourage people to rethink their possessions and to increase value through history and memory. By recording an object’s “biography,” both its lifespan, perceived value and sentimental value can be increased, in the context of inscribed memory.
By keeping our possessions with us twice as long as originally intended, we can reduce unnecessary consumption and production by half. If we pass our belongings down through the generations, their utilization will have a positive impact on the environment. The objects will out-live the generations. This piece is therefore a tribute to objects with history. It encourages people to be discerning consumers, and to rethink the value of the past in a modern context.






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