COLOR/FORMS, Parsons & Cooper Hewitt Grad Symposium (April 2015; New York, NY)


The Twenty-Fourth Annual Parsons/Cooper Hewitt Graduate Student Symposium on the History of Design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York.
April 23 and 24, 2015.

Deadline for proposals: January 26, 2015

This symposium is seeking papers on the forms color takes and the roles color plays in the meanings of design and the decorative arts since the Renaissance. We are especially interested in research that touches on moments of change: for example, on transitions from monochrome to full-color production, or when particular colors became available, fashionable or unfashionable.

Coloration is intrinsic to the social meanings of objects. Colors shape our interaction with things and other people in fundamental ways; they can appeal to our most visceral senses of pleasure or desire. Colors affect behaviors, and we use colors metaphorically to describe attitudes, feelings and moods. In the world of consumer goods, the need to produce certain colors has driven innovations in mechanical processes, and markets can rise and fall based on color trends.

Areas of investigation might involve:

  • Graphic design and broadcast media–e.g. color printing in lithographs, newspapers and magazines; day-glo color inks and psychedelic design; Technicolor and other cinematic color systems; the advent of color television; etc.
  • Fashion and costume studies–e.g. color, or lack thereof, in menswear; aniline dyes and other technologies of coloration; color forecasting; etc.
  • Industrial design–e.g. colored plastics; anodized aluminum; the color of high technology (silver, black, white, beige) or domestic appliances; color theory and consumer choice; color-customizable products; colors in toys; etc.
  • Decorative arts–e.g. hand-painted and printed colors ceramics; tapestry, color-changing fabrics and other textiles; polychromy in sculpture; etc.
  • Architecture and interior design–e.g. colored exterior lighting; psychologies of colored interiors; wallpapers; “white cities” and exhibition architecture; etc.
  • …or any number of related fields of production and consumption.

Proposals are welcome from graduate students at any level in fields such as History of the Decorative Arts, History of Design, Curatorial Studies, Design Studies, Art History, History of Architecture, Design and Technology, Media Studies, Consumer Studies, Cultural Anthropology, Sociology, and other fields.

The symposium’s Catherine Hoover Voorsanger Keynote speaker will be Jeffrey L. Meikle, Stiles Professor in American Studies and Professor of Art History at the University of Texas at Austin, speaking on “Postcard Modernism: Landscapes, Cityscapes, and American Visual Culture, 1931-1950.” Dr. Meikle is one of the leading voices in design history and cultural history. His renown scholarship extends to industrial design and technology, popular print media, and alternative cultures from 1950 to the present. His books include Twentieth Century Limited: Industrial Design in America, 1925-1939 (1982); American Plastic: A Cultural History (1995); and Design in the USA (2005).

The Keynote will be on Thursday evening, April 23, 2015 and the symposium sessions will be in the morning and afternoon on Friday, April 24.

To submit a proposal, send a two-page abstract, one-page bibliography and a c.v. to:

Ethan Robey
Associate Director, MA Program in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies

Deadline for proposals: January 26, 2015

The symposium is sponsored by the MA Program in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies offered jointly by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and Parsons The New School for Design

Making Autonomy: Design, Material and Visual culture in Latin America (April 2015, Aberdeen Scotland)

Dates: 17-18 April 2015
Location: University of Aberdeen, Scotland
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 28 November 2014

Organised by Dr. Livia Rezende (V&A/RCA History of Design Programme, Royal College of Art, London, UK) & Dr. Patricia Lara-Betancourt (Research Fellow, Modern Interiors Research Centre, Kingston University, UK)

Panel to be held at the 51st Society for Latin American Studies Conference.

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The Art of Research V: Experience . Materiality. Articulation (Nov 2014, Helsinki Finland)

Dates: 26-27 November 2014
Location: Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland
Deadline for submissions: 31 May 2014

Over the past two decades, a continuous dialogue and fruitful convergence between art and design related practices and research has been explored in the academic institutions. Involved in the contemporary discourse of practice-led research, the Art of Research Conference 2014 brings out the interactive and dynamic relationship between experience, materiality and articulation. How are different fields and media shaping these in novel ways through various methods, tools, and skills? How do research and practices operate from these relationships? Through these questions the main aim of the event is to engage in a shared exploration of bold and visionary thinking across different entangling practices.

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Materiality and Aesthetics, Enhancing the Object and Democratising Technology (July 2014, Cornwall UK)

Dates: 10-11 July 2014
Location: Falmouth University, Cornwall, UK
Deadline for extended abstracts: 31 March 2014

The digital crafters in the Autonomatic Research Group at Falmouth University invite you to join them in critical debate about a radically transformed vision of 21st century production. In this brave new world of Makerspaces and Fablabs anyone can be a digital craftpreneur, harnessing the power of digital technologies to create, co-create, collaborate, make and sell.

Aimed at makers and researchers of all shapes and codes including hackers, crafters, inventors, designers, economists, curators and critical theorists, this two day conference will explore craft values, traditional making processes and novel forms of engagement, participation and interaction in digital and material cultures.

There are three broad themes we wish to explore: Materiality and Aesthetics, Enhancing the Object and Democratising Technology. More information on these and the conference exhibition and workshop opportunities can be found on the conference website.

We welcome contributions from both within and beyond the field of craft.

For queries, expressions of interest and early bird registration contact the conference team

Special Issue of Studies in Material Thinking: Documenting the realities of research through design practice (Aug 2014)

Deadline for full papers: 31 August 2014

A special issues volume in Studies in Material Thinking on the theme of Visual/Textual: documenting the realities of research through design practice.

Studies in Material Thinking (SMT) in collaboration with the organisers of the Praxis and Poetics: Research Through Design conference ( is calling for submissions to a special volume of research articles to be published in February 2015. This special issue aims to open up the debate to a wider audience and enable deeper engagement with the issues and challenges associated with the communication of research through design.

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Making: an intl conf on materiality & knowledge (Sep 2012, Norway)

Location: Notodden, Norway
Dates: 24-27 September 2012
Deadline for abstracts: 15 March 2012

In Notodden, Norway, september 2012, the international conference “Making – an international conference on Materiality and Knowledge” will take place. The  conference aims to provide an outlet for international and interdisciplinary knowledge production within the Making Disciplines/Making Professions/Making Education.

We kindly invite you to submit abstract to the conference by 15th March 2012. Please visit our website: for more information about the two versions of paper presentation (with or without peer-response), and for more information about the conference theme, aim and organizer.

Do you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask either or

The Life of New Materials (Nov 2011, Philadelphia)

Dates: 17-18 Nov 2011
Location: Philadelphia USA
Deadline for proposals: 1 April 2011

Paper proposals are invited for a conference on Nov. 17 and 18, 2011 that will explore the lives of the new materials that have made
possible many of the technological advances of our age. Whether based on plant, metal, chemical, or nano technologies, the development, use, re-use, and disposal of new materials is an embedded feature of our industrial society. The focus of this conference is to understand the relationships from which new materials emerge, and which they in turn often refashion. We are especially interested in proposals that focus on the life history of a new material: its biography, use cycle, place in supply chains, or features as material culture. We encourage papers to address the reasons and methods for development of a new material; its design, manufacture, testing, and subsequent incorporation into final products or already existing technologies; its reuse or disposal after completion of its primary purpose; and its impact – anticipated or not – on subsequent innovations. Exploration of the creation of new materials should situate those scientific and technological processes within the commercial, institutional, or social contexts that lead to their development. Papers should be historical and based on original research, and may consider any region of the world after 1900.

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9th Annual Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars (Apr 2011, Delaware)

Date: 16 April 2011
Deadline for submission: 24 November 2010

The Center for Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware invites submissions for papers to be given at the Ninth Annual Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars.

Focus: Objects order the social body and mediate cultural interactions. Yet, at the same time, objects can be deployed against established structures. Whether designed to effect change or repurposed to undermine normative practices, objects often revolt against social, cultural, intellectual, economic and political systems. This conference seeks papers that explore the creation, use and manipulation of things as they reorder our world.

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2011 Nat’l Conf of the Material Culture Area of PCA/ACA (Apr 2011, San Antonio USA)

The Material Culture Area of PCA/ACA (Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association) <> is pleased to announce the Call for Proposals for the 2011 National Conference, to be held in San Antonio, Texas, Wednesday, April 20– Saturday, April 23. You are invited to submit proposals now through December 15, 2010.

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