A Study Of Design History Essay

1770 Words Apr 22nd, 2015 null Page
The past has always had a profound influence on the present, and for contemporary designers there is significant value in the study of design history. Unfortunately, at a time when incredible value is placed on novelty and individual creativity, the narratives of the past often fall on deaf ears, written off as mere nostalgia (Hunt 2014, 1). Focusing on landscape architecture, this essay will defend the presence of history in contemporary thought and promote an active and critical engagement with the antecedents of design. It will be argued that the study of design history provides valuable self-reflection and a broader understanding of the context designers operate within, offers the ability to respond in an informed and sensitive manner to sites, and presents a vast repertoire of principles, forms and ideas to inspire contemporary practice.

Design history develops an awareness of the context in which contemporary practitioners operate, revealing the ways social forces influence designers and create the paradigms within which they work. This kind of deep self-reflection, common amongst the humanities and social sciences is still relatively lacking within the various disciplines of design, landscape architecture included. As argued in Clive Dilnot’s seminal essay The State of Design History (1984, 7), design has not “pursued the historical, cultural or philosophical-analytical study of itself”. While this statement appears somewhat extreme in its certitude when read thirty…

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