This paper talks about the study of Design history, the changes and the view of 19th and 20th century historians. Design history is not a conceptual development however it was developed over time and was criticized post evolution. Pioneers of the Modern Movement(Nikolaus Pevsner 1936) can be remembered as the first work which was later revised with a different name and introduced a narrative for design history, this is something criticized by today’s writers basically due to the discussion on historical narrative.
Till 60’s Pevsner & fellow historians were still very favorable of the aforesaid theory, though its not valid and believed for design history today. The fact is that it was strictly about the Western Europe and only referring to the non-ordinary, hence it separated the world into the haves & the have-not.
Pevsner’s perception of the subject was very unique but narrow and hence there was a need to involve more and study. Reyner Banham initiated the famous culture, the one from America; he was from the Independent group and emerged as an anchor for the 1950’s by publishing Theory and design in the first machine age.
Banham being a part of the group of many critics, architects, artists etc. was recognized as a critic who had said much about the mass culture and we saw him joining the design history movement which earned a lot of value added contributions during the seventies.
Penne Spark who had written in the Journal of design history rightly considered Banham as the initiator in the broadening up of the subject matter of the design history. Though his work was very encouraging but it failed to draw a genuine boundary. During the eighties John Heskett brought the new era of industrial design, this was the start of the work which the modern historians have followed. The study involved mostly weapons and that too the conditions that resulted in a particular design. Since, this was mostly about ammunitions from the feminist point of view this become unacceptable as there we other commodities like craft etc, which were a mirror to the culture were left out and this also resulted in the ignorance towards the women in production as they were mainly involved into crafts, having no access to mechanical production.
So, the basic discussion above highlighted the start of design study, proceeding further other subcontinents will also be taken into scope. The problems that still persists is about the categorizing technique that must be used to classify the design history (industrial, graphic and craft etc) and there fore even the generation of apprentice might not be able to access specific material related to their interest in design activity. The ideology that took stability was basically the differentiation between Art & Craft and between technical and manual; this gave an answer to the classification problem upto certain extent.
The modern museum world showcased much mature segregation, the design history though much studied among teachers, students and journalists involved with it remained out of recognition and did not had any doctoral programs associated in America or Europe. The subject that evolved with basic interpretations of the design development soon took over a vast effort and research.
The study that started with Pevsner’s narrow study model crossed boundaries and reached to more small scale production and the less developed parts of the world. Though a great subject of study and needing much of an attention this has been regularly criticized by the feminist historians looking at a very small role played by the women in the male dominated design world.
Design significantly moved from a very small definition to all the broader prospects and there were out of scope developments for. Ex. The change in the architectural design.
The author worked with Richard Buchman to understand and identify that Design is involved into all different types of changes taking place in the field of technology, communication, information etc and therefore the way of narrating this drastic change with the 20th century had to be improved at the same level.
Design suddenly became a great study to understand the kind of lifestyle of that particular period hence becoming a great contributor to history. There were several studies and critical analysis of the way the producer and the consumer behaved this was the second most emerging point of criticism after the feminist views. Miller in the late eighties gave revolutionary views on the same and commented that the consumers control the usage and change of design as the market produces what is required by the consumer.
Household Choices a book written by the contribution of several anthropologists, historians and urbanists gave birth to a new debate which actually talked about the user as the backbone of a design and not the designer this was a way too different view then what Pevsner had once talked about.
Ultimately, the design industry needs to have a recognition to the significance of design in contemporary life, this concept is similar to that presented by Professor Robert Kates at Brown University about world hunger, the only difference would be that his subject needs more channelized approach and immediate outcome however that is not the case with design study where we need to add as much as possible to ensure that the 20th century of modern design is dealt with justice.