What happens when a sudden encounter with a design-object calls into question traditional approaches to the history of design? Or, alternatively, when such moments make manifest how the symbolic roles we occupy as design historians can serve to obstruct our singular relationship to the object? Beginning with what is cautiously termed the “design event,” this article seeks to explore how an examination of how our own unconscious fascinations and obsessions that encircle the material object, can offer the potential for a self-reflective approach to design history, one that locates the reasons for our passionate preoccupations at the very heart of our analysis. Furthermore, it is argued that a focus on what is singular to the self, on the intersubjective relationships that have shaped our attachments to certain objects, can serve to form part of a broader challenge to the carefully constructed symbolic identities we are interpellated by in our professional roles as historians.
- The Prisoner