In my teaching and research, I explore how material objects and designed environments articulate personal and political identities in modern Europe (1848-1968). I am Course Director of the Master of Studies in the History of Design programme (www.conted.ox.ac.uk/msthd taught part-time over two years in the Department for Continuing Education). I also welcome doctoral projects exploring the history of modern art, craft, design and architecture especially in France since 1870.
Regional identity and nationhood in the history of design, craft and art
The politics of production: handicraft and industrial processes
The aesthetics of modern decoration reconciling nature and the machine age
My research centres on the history of decoration in France between 1870 and 1968. The relationships between materiality, design writing and the communication of private and public identity have led me to investigate the role of decorative objects and environments in forging Republican and regional cultural politics. My publications examine a variety of creative production including murals, glass, furniture, jewellery, tapestry, interior and garden design and exhibition scenography. Further questions that interest me are the ways in which decoration has been formulated as an ideological construct and gendered practice as well as moral and pragmatic dilemmas within industrial and handicraft production processes and sympathies and tensions between pantheistic organicism, natural science and the machine age.
My current project is an interdisciplinary cultural history examining how designed objects and environments embodied rival French identities since 1870. The argument focuses on the local creative industries of three borderland spaces: glass produced during the annexation and post-1918 recuperation of Alsace-Lorraine; tapestry woven in Aubusson in the central region of the Creuse which became a crossroads between zones during the 1940-4 Occupation and interior design for the international border spaces of transport design and high office in the 1960s.
A Cultural History of Furniture presents an authoritative survey from ancient times to the present. This set of six volumes spans 4,500 years of furniture in its physical, social and cultural context. 1. A Cultural History of Furniture in Antiquity (2500 BCE-500 CE) 2. A Cultural History of Furniture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (500-1500) 3. A Cultural History of Furniture in the Age of Exploration (1500-1700) 4. A Cultural History of Furniture in the Age of Enlightenment (1700-1800) 5. A Cultural History of Furniture in the Age of Empire and Industry (1800-1900) 6. A Cultural History of Furniture in the Modern Age (1900-present) Each volume discusses the same themes in its chapters: 1. Design and Motifs 2. Makers, Making and Materials 3. Types and Uses of Furniture 4. The Domestic Setting 5. The Public Setting 6. Exhibition and Display 7. Furniture and Architecture 8. Visual Representations 9. Verbal Representations This structure offers readers a broad overview of a period within each volume or the opportunity to follow a theme through history by reading the relevant chapter across volumes. Superbly illustrated, the full six-volume set combines to present the most comprehensive and authoritative survey available on furniture throughout history.
Renaissance and Resistance: Modern French Tapestry and Collective Craft 10.1080/17496772.2016.1249085
Journal of Modern Craft
Modern tapestry makers articulated aspirations and anxieties about creativity and craft amidst the economic and political instability of twentieth-century France. In 1946 Jean Cassou selected tapestry as the focus for the Musée national d’art moderne’s opening exhibition re-defining post-war France to itself and the world. Liberté, a 1943 tapestry from a cartoon drawn by Jean Lurçat inspired by a poem by Paul Éluard, woven clandestinely in the attic rooms of Suzanne Goubely’s Aubusson workshop, typifies this narrative. However, the contrast between Lurçat’s wartime writings on tapestry and a 1945 photo essay of Aubusson weavers at work by Robert Doisneau highlights the vigorous debates about where to locate this “renaissance” of tapestry, transformed from a courtly luxury into a collective and economically viable national craft industry. Tapestry was renewed as a modern medium through the collaboration of artist-cartoon makers and weaving workshops; the exhibition culture of galleries run by collectors such as Marie Cuttoli of Maison Myrbor, Jeanne Bucher and Denise Majorel of La Demeure; the administrators of the National Manufactures; and the work of art educators and craftworkers, A. Marius Martin and Pauline Peugniez. The embodied experience required to create and to understand tapestry, where individual and collective experience commingle, resonates with Simone De Beauvoir’s principle of “situated freedom”. In twenty-first century Aubusson, the new initiatives of the Cité de la Tapisserie and the Olympe de Gouges tapestries celebrate and promote these liberties.
"‘Urbi et orbi’: decentralization and design in Nancy’s International Exposition of eastern France 1909"
Cultures of International Exhibitions 1840-1940: Great Exhibitions in the Margins
War within the Walls: Conflict and Citizenship in the Murals of the Hôtel deVille, Paris
This article argues that the so-called ‘countermonuments’ which emerged in West Germany as of the 1980s are not as pathbreakingly new, in terms of their intentions, as has hitherto been thought. It examines post-1945 West German memorials to Jewish victims of Nazism to demonstrate this point. At the same time it seeks to define exactly what it was that was new about the ‘countermonuments’. It concludes by identifying a new breed of memorials which developed out of, and to an extent contemporaneously with the countermonuments, and which this article terms ‘combimemorials’ to designate their integration of memorial, archival, and exhibition elements.
Cubist Chameleons: André Mare, the comoufleurs, and the canons of art history