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RAE 2008

Rearch Assessment Exercise 2008

David Gates

My research interests include:
Contemporary furniture design; practice and theory, the role and necessity of making in contemporary culture; the sense of location and the modern vernacular; the legitimization of processes of making as an intellectual act; craft knowledge and its relationship to languages and the establishment of an appropriate voice for contemporary craft practice.

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Research Outcomes

Outcome 1 - Cabinetwork and Vestry Fitments at St Giles the Abbott Church, Farnborough
This project examined ideas of the historic and contemporary in terms of the aesthetic and materiality of church woodworking. Extensive user-centred design process in consultation and discussion with user-groups, architects, the diocese and with reference to conservation bodies.
The brief was to bring contemporary design-led craftsmanship to bear on functional requirements in an historically sensitive location. The work references existing joinery and cabinetwork in the church, dating variously from the C12th-C20th.


Outcome 2 - Craftsense - Resource Room furniture at Bilston Craft Gallery
This collaborative multiple-output furniture research project explores site and locale specificity; the nature of human interaction with the made artefact through themes of explicated structure and construction; the tactile nature of material and it’s enrichment of encounter; the nature and condition of practitioner communication and action during collaboration; contemporary and historic geo-industrial resonances, explored through referencing enamel as an industrial/craft process in Bilston and Battersea and the referencing of furniture typologies and drawn landscapes evidenced at locations between the site and point of making; design as inclusively experienced object across varied user groups through the use and exploration of "non-standard" sightlines and viewing situations.
The work forms part of the permanent handling Craftsense collection at the gallery and is in daily use as working furniture. (photo: Edward Barber)


Outcome 3 - Changing Spaces
A series of workshops examining the nature of furniture was devised and used with the children from Paget School, Birmingham over two whole days. The children considered what furniture does for them and for others, how it affects their surroundings, what furniture means to them and their families.
Practical workshops engaged the children in making using a variety of materials and exploring junctions and fixings with supplied components and aids as well as using activity sessions with furniture to explore our relationships with it as objects.
The findings and results were assimilated with those from three other co-dependent projects to inform a collaborative design process to reconfigure a part of the school site using furniture, metal, colour and glass.


Outcome 4 - Lost For Words; Developments in a New Language
Lost for Words was a paper delivered at the major international contemporary craft conference - New Craft Future Voices
This paper posits a view that with rare exceptions the nascent discourse around contemporary craft largely addresses agendas central to Design History and Material Culture rather than establishing routes of communication between, and of practice to further a platform of making and intelligence. This situation can be shown to have historic links to education, class, the limitations of language and entrenched western philosophies, notwithstanding the reticence of many practitioners to engage in fuller debate. This paper sits within a field of current practice-based research addressing questions of language, communication and craft intelligence.


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