Everything we see, touch and own has been designed by someone at sometime. Design is therefore the stuff of life and both literally and metaphorically helps us to find our way, to make narratives about our lives and the lives of others. Stuff matters and stuff is designed.
Design has its own discourse; understandings of ‘good’ design relate to a fitness for purpose that make activities manageable, whereas ‘bad’ design does the opposite. For over a century British design has paradoxically embraced both aspects, the practical with the comedic, the ugly with the aesthetic, and so on. Stuff Bath emerges from this dichotomy, questioning and redressing the meaning of design in the contemporary world, analysing the significance of stuff in everyday life.
Recently stuff has been the subject of much derision. The over production of goods and an increasing consumer demand for more and cheaper, has sparked heated debates surrounding issues of waste, depleting natural resources and the exploitation of workers in the developing world. Yet is stuff the enemy? Regardless of how educated consumers become, stuff remains desirable, an inanimate extension of ourselves, belief and ideals. Indeed, the absence of stuff is associated with loss of liberty. Stuff therefore facilitates our expression as individuals, societies and nations. We love, and need, stuff.
So here we celebrate stuff: the good, the bad and the ugly; the loved and the discarded, the remembered and the forgotten. Yet this is not without critique, and stuff is positioned within an inter-disciplinary framework that will innovate discourse from a variety of disparate voices.
It is aimed at the consumers of stuff, the manufacturers of stuff, the designers of stuff, at you.