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Abstract only
Ory Bartal

The introduction presents avant-garde design in Japan as composed of different elements including postmodern aesthetics, critical theory, and new economic values. It emphasises the role of design and popular culture as a social, economic, and political agent and as a critical practice. Based on the ideas of Umberto Eco, Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu, Jean Baudrillard, Michel Foucault, and Bruno Latour, it presents material and visual culture not only as a reflection of cultural norms and values but also as an active agent in shaping human behaviour and catalysing social forces. This point of departure leads to an explanation of how avant-garde designers made use of the socio-psychological power of the material objects and visual signs in order to challenge social conventions and formulate a new perception of reality by using everyday popular artefacts in novel ways. The introduction also describes the book's interdisciplinary research methodology, which combines the disparate fields of art, design, sociology, business administration, marketing, and history, giving rise to a reading of aesthetics within its historical context and in relation to the socioeconomic forces of the network of consumption.

in Critical design in Japan
Ory Bartal

This chapter presents the Japanese lifestyle brand Mujirushi Ryohin (known as Muji), which sells simple, starkly functional objects in natural colours while eschewing decorative values and unnecessary patterns and details. This company's basic, plain, timeless products do not change with the seasons or from year to year. The products stress use value and functionality as an alternative to the logic of changing fashions – one of the pillars of late consumer culture, which renders products inherently obsolescent. Mujirushi Ryohin’s products are discussed as a part of the Anti-Branding and No-Logo movements that emerged in Europe and in the United States in the 1980s, in opposition to the 'the society of the spectacle' and the ideology and social power of late capitalism and consumer culture.

in Critical design in Japan
Ory Bartal

This chapter presents the rise of the avant-garde milieu of designers in Tokyo, which revolutionised visual and material culture beginning in the 1960s and continues to impact it in the present. This milieu included designers such as Ishioka Eiko and Tanaka Ikkō (graphic design), Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo (fashion design), Kuramata Shirō and Uchida Shigeru (interior and product design), and Andō Tadao and Isuzaki Arata (architecture). These designers all made decisions and created artefacts that radically altered and reshaped the course of Japanese design history. The development of their critical design is presented in the context of the aesthetic, economic, social, and political forces operating during this period and is linked to the rise of critical theories. Moreover, this chapter presents the development of social media and the rich working relations and collaborations among these designers and between them and members of the artistic avant-garde active during these years.

in Critical design in Japan
Structure, function and meaning

The British Empire contributed greatly to the globalising of western buildings, towns and cities across the world. The requirements of security necessitated the construction of forts and barracks everywhere, while the need for mobility and ceremonial led to the use of large numbers of tents. As towns and cities developed, building types required for imperial rule, the operations of colonial economies and the comfort and cultural edification of Europeans appeared everywhere. These included government houses, town halls, courthouses, assembly and parliament buildings, company headquarters, customs houses and hotels. As the white bourgeoisie became a major global class, their representative buildings, such as clubs, libraries, museums, theatres, religious institutions, mission stations and schools, also spread worldwide. Some of these were designed for the dissemination of European culture to indigenous peoples, as well as the proselytisation of Christianity. Imperial rulers, their officials and troops additionally required particular settlements for leisure, recreation and the restoration of health, and these included hill stations in many colonies. The new technologies of the age, such as the telegraph and railways, also generated significant structures, widely dispersed. In addition to the great public and civic buildings, residential accommodation was created for Europeans, servants and workers. The result was a striking built environment which offers many insights into the nature, character and social and economic development of imperial rule, not least in the patterns of racial and class inclusion and exclusion which such buildings represented. It is an environment which remains key to the understanding of the modern world, and one which has survived, often through the modern fascination with ‘heritage’ as well as through its incorporation into new postcolonial arrangements.

Religion and freemasonry
John M. MacKenzie

The global expansion of empire prompted the globalisation of The Christian religion and its buildings. In the British case, this has to be seen in terms of the ‘four nations’ of the British Isles. Throughout the empire there was a struggle between Anglicanism, which attempted to assert its authority as the English established Church, and the other denominations, notably the Church of Scotland, which was also established. The chapter examines the spread of Anglican cathedrals and churches, of Scottish churches and churches of other denominations, as well as mission stations, with their churches and many other buildings, including hospitals and schools. In addition to the Christian religion, freemasonry expanded throughout the empire, creating a large number of lodges of the various ‘rites’. The ‘friendly societies’ were also significant in this respect. The chapter surveys the various different styles in which these buildings were constructed as well as the struggles that attended their creation. As always, the racial dimension is central to the discussion, in the attempted conversion of indigenous peoples and of their acceptability within churches that were, in many cases, originally built for Europeans.

in The British Empire through buildings
John M. MacKenzie

As imperial authority was established, towns and cities grew and spread into the interior of continents. The morphology of such urban settlements was embedded in economic, social and racial requirements, in zoning and in the creation of buildings that would be climatically comfortable. This chapter particularly examines structures such as town halls and assembly and parliament buildings, as constitutional developments required them. While these were the characteristics of what is known as formal empire, settlements of Europeans pursuing economic objectives also created familiar buildings in settings of informal empire, for example in the Middle or Far East. Finally, the chapter examines the wholly new development of hill stations, designed for the comfort, recreation and health of Europeans. Generally associated with India, hill stations also appeared in South-East Asia, the Far East, Australia, Africa and the Caribbean.

in The British Empire through buildings
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Valletta, Rangoon and new capitals
John M. MacKenzie

This chapter seeks to take little-noticed examples of colonial cities to explore insights into the processes recounted in the earlier chapters. Valletta is taken as an example of an island colony in Europe with a remarkable history, which the British took over during the Napoleonic wars and significantly modified as a naval base and staging post on the route to India. Rangoon is a very special case, since almost nothing has been published on this city because of the particular conditions of the post-Second World War history of Burma/Myanmar, yet it presents a particularly illuminating instance of the foundation and growth of a city together with the manner in which it is presented today. The creation of new capitals was an extraordinary phenomenon of the late British Empire and the rest of the chapter examines three of them: Canberra for the Commonwealth of Australia (founded in 1901), New Delhi, and Lusaka in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). Canberra had a very slow and tortured origin and development, in some respects only coming into its own in the twenty-first century. New Delhi has received a great deal of attention, but it remains an intriguing case and some aspects of its creation and emergence as ‘heritage’ have been ignored. Lusaka is a highly significant case of an African new capital which offers many insights into imperial attitudes, the survival of extraordinary racial attitudes and the impractical belief in the continuing force of colonialism.

in The British Empire through buildings
John M. MacKenzie

Buildings are shown to lie at a complex intersection of ideas and economic imperatives, technical innovations and cultural and religious yearnings, all reflecting patterns of class and racial inclusion and exclusion. The objectives and methods of construction are surveyed, together with the development of engineering and architectural professions, both in Britain and throughout the empire. There is also an examination of the emergence of Public Works Departments and their influence, together with the nature of the workforce and its racial dimensions. Destruction is examined from the point of view of the destruction of many indigenous settlements and structures, as well as the various forms of damage inflicted through warfare and appropriation, as well as natural causes such as eruptions and earthquakes.

in The British Empire through buildings
John M. MacKenzie

Imperial and colonial settlers and sojourners (temporary residents) required places to live. Their residences were built in an extraordinary hierarchy of scale and quality, well represented by the great gulfs seen in plantation economies. Elsewhere, urban residences sprang up in large numbers, often reflecting the universalising of the bungalow style originating in India, and more rarely, terraces in inner colonial cities. As the nineteenth century progressed and the great explosion in many colonial economies occurred (for example, though the exploitation of gold in Australia and southern Africa), cities grew to a considerable extent, particularly after the development of transport systems – railways, trams and later, buses – stimulated the creation of suburbs. In many places, inner cities became crowded and the notion of the City Improvement Trust was created in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in order to alleviate some of the problems this caused. This idea appeared on several continents, but sometimes introduced as many problems as it set out to alleviate, particularly when applied to the zones of indigenous residents in India and elsewhere in Asia.

in The British Empire through buildings
John M. MacKenzie

The nineteenth century was the era of the massive expansion of the middle classes. This became a global phenomenon and the ‘bourgeoisification’ of the world called into being a whole range of institutions that were being created contemporaneously in Britain itself. These included libraries, museums, clubs, markets, banks, commercial buildings, hotels, theatres and cinemas. The new technologies of the age were served by striking buildings, including dockside waiting rooms, railway stations and posts and telegraph offices. Railway stations spread across almost the entire empire and introduced new issues of class and racial zoning. Posts and telegraphs were representative of the new communications of the era and often stimulated the building of exceptionally impressive structures to represent their centrality in the new imperial age.

in The British Empire through buildings