Futuring Craft: New Zealand Studio Furniture 1979-2008
This thesis investigates the practice and culture of studio furniture in New Zealand and its national craft context, in light of prevailing economic, educational, social and cultural parameters. The author uses an autoethnographical approach to the research, functioning as a subjective and reflective studio furniture practitioner, to establish fruitful ongoing relationships with the New Zealand furniture community and six leading makers. This aligns with Tim Ingold’s argument regarding the inextricability of the maker, the making process and what is made. At the core of the thesis are six case studies whose interviews and visual documentation attest to the diversity of practitioners and strength of the community in New Zealand. The thesis begins by establishing the theoretical lens through which the research on studio furniture was viewed: holism, the reflective practitioner, narrative, autoethnography, design anthropology, and the ethics of care. This is followed by three chapters dedicated to craft and furniture in New Zealand. In 1965, a handful of largely amateur makers joined the World Crafts Council. Chapter 2 documents this pivotal event and subsequent progress toward inauguration of the Crafts Council of New Zealand (CCNZ). The history of the CCNZ from 1977 to 1992—its key players, and major issues including advocacy, education, standards, and professionalism—provides the context in which crafted furniture became visible and matured. Chapter 3 begins with a definition of studio furniture, followed by documentation of the practice’s collectivity, exhibitions, educational opportunities, resources, and international connections. Then, moving from the macro to the micro, Chapter 4 comprises in-depth case studies of five men and one woman whose contributions established and advanced the studio furniture community. This thesis supports Tony Fry’s arguments for craft as care and designer/makers as critical implements in the sustainment of planet Earth. As a consequence, the document concludes in Chapter 5 with three proposals for the futuring of studio furniture and craft in New Zealand: craft’s advocacy at the international level, national education, and rescripting of furniture and craft.
Advisor: Waite, Noel; Cooke, Edward
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Design Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: studio furniture; craft; design anthropology; sustainability; New Zealand
Research Type: Thesis