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Beyond aesthetics: identity, religion and design

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date07/2001
JournalThe Design Journal
Number of pages12
Original languageEnglish


Product design is considered in terms of utility, aesthetics and 'higher' or spiritual meanings. Drawing from other creative sources, such as music, literature and art, the argument is made that enduring and profound meaning is found when worldly or mundane considerations are infused with 'higher', religious or spiritual understandings. This can in certain cases be explicit, in other cases it is implicit. In religion there is a long history of spiritual meanings informing the creation of artefacts. However, most contemporary products lack such considerations and because of this, it is argued, our material culture is often bereft of higher meaning, unfulfilling and consequently highly transient. The question is raised as to whether or not spiritual meaning can or should be part of contemporary product design, and if so, how this might be achieved. This paper explores issues of identity and our responses to environmental and social concerns in seeking answers to these questions.