6. Form propositions

  • My arm is outstretched, therefore, it can hold books. Is it still a bookshelf?
  • Does a book always have to rest on a bookshelf? Why can’t it be held, grasped, enveloped, gripped, tethered, etc?
  • Digital storage vs. physically tangible storage

5. Language: Identify synonyms/antonyms of each word in your new categorical name.

Consider the opposite of ‘book displaying structure’

  • Book: tablet, iPad, computer
  • displaying: hiding, concealing, covering
  • structure: wreck, destruction, disorder

3. Language: Rename your category.

  • Book displaying structure

4. Identify neighboring categories.

  • Online databases/resources, public storage, Internet, museums, homes, etc.
  • Semiotics of class, level of education, power.

These identifying categories were selected with acknowledgement to the fact that bookcases are used to display or hold things which offer insight into many types of subjects and interests.

2. Consider the language: Stop naming it a bookshelf. 

  • It must provide a surface to withhold books.
  • It must display/hold things.
  • Elevated vs. grounded surface?
  • Number of books?
  • Bound books vs. digital e-books?
  • Organization: Right to left, left to right? Stacked?
  • Used to show off? Used for storage?

How can i deconstruct my category of bookshelves?

1. Identify the category and its cultural norms.

What: Bookshelf/bookcase=> shelves, display cases, etc.

Who: Used by people of many different backgrounds. Prominently recognized by the wealthy, educated peoples.

Where: In private spaces such as homes/religious institutions. Public spaces like the library or schools.

When: No specific time or reason for having a bookshelf. Usually just grows as time passes, but sometimes deliberately purchased with reason to have a personal library.

Why: Used to hold books/other knick-knacks, for furnishing purposes, displaying, exhibiting, storing. Also used to show off level of class or education.

Philosopher Jacques Derrida

Modernism’s pursuit of an ideal, perfected state trumped the world in the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Modernism grew from creating harmony between form and function; post-modernism on the other hand, rejected the idea of the perfect form. Rather, it embraced the use of any ideas, processes, methods, etc. Through Post-modernism, Jacques Derrida proposed a theoretical approach to analysis in 1967, called deconstruction. It does not mean to physically deconstruct objects but to focus on the core purpose around which something exists. It then opens opportunity for deeper layers of analysis that surround this core idea.

Artists and designers in particular, should hone in on their abilities to critically analyze through methods such as deconstruction. We must look at what is before us just as much as we should look at what is not visible. By questioning the cultural norms and challenging the status quo, we designers are provided with a means of evaluating even the level at which we produce work. We must begin using this concept of deconstruction as a process of filtering the ideas behind our designs. Are our designs truly being made to improve people’s ways of life, or are we designing things that merely clutter one’s life?

Lecture information credited to K. Foster of the Critical Design Research Blog.

The Whole Story Photo Albums.

Designed by Debra Folz, this photo album has no need for a bookcase or shelf, because it was designed to “exist sculpturally in your space.” By removing the idea of limiting books to a generic shelving unit, she hopes to “encourage physical sharing of stories through photographs.”

This type of design can only be achieved, in my opinion, if only she separates herself from what society tells her a book can be, or how it needs to be stored or displayed.