The Welsh Dresser
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Fig.1 Jane.jpg Jane Rendell
Jane Rendell (Fig.1) is a writer, art critic and architectural historian/theorist/designer. Her work is orientated around the interdisciplinary intersections between architecture, art, feminism and psychoanalysis.In 2006 she was a research fellow at Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Cambridge and received an honorary degree from the University College of the Creative Arts. (Jane Rendell, no date)
“I don’t start with a design objective, I start with a communication objective. I feel my project is successful if it communicates what it is supposed to communicate.” – Mike Davidson
The ultimate goal when designing something is to create an emotional response in the observer in some way. By doing this you are creating not just an interesting space, product, or some other type of proposition, but something more valuable and wanted.
This type of experience is observed in the journal “The Welsh Dresser” by Jane Rendell. In that text, the author takes the idea of the dresser and looks at it by using a site writing style to take a look at this family heirloom. She takes out objects from the dresser and for each of these objects, she examines them in three different ways:
Definition – a look at the actual definition of the object from a dictionary.
Personal Feelings – how the author interprets these object from his own point of view and experience.
Historic – an exploration of the historic significance of those same rituals explain in the personal experience of the writer.
The text explores how a single object can be associated with different feelings and emotions based on the prism through which the observer sees it. The writer puts that in perspective by showing her personal feelings and stories tangled around the wooden dresser. At the same time, we see the definitions of these same objects and how they can carry a different meaning.
“I position the photograph as a point of contemplation between several modes of writing, two apparently objective – a series of dictionary definitions and theoretically inflected notes; and another typically subjective- scenes of childhood memory, in order to question the nature of the photograph as evidence.”
A similar concept is found and explored by Steven Bradley in his book “Design Fundamentals”. He explains the phenomenon where different people can observe the same situation and still at the same time leave with completely different ideas on what exactly happened. (Fig.2)
A person’s perception of reality is individually based on their own experiences throughout life. As mentioned by Steven Bradley everyone interprets situations in their own unique way and draw conclusions from it. This can shape future experiences as well. But on the other hand, you can use established visual cues that can influence most people in a similar way. The example used by Bradley is the colour blue, that can be used to infuse trust into the observer – “Blue is the color of the sea and the sky, two things which are always present. We can count on them. We trust them.” (Fig.3) Also implied by Steven is the idea that these associations on a subconscious level in a short amount of time, so people mostly are not aware that this experience has resurfaced.
Logos that use blue colour instil a sense of security:
This, of course, has application in interior and architectural design. Some of these associations are documented and can be used to influence the observer, customer or client depending on the facility that we are creating. With the decision on what type of idea we want to broadcast to our target audience, we can work our way backward and anticipate the feelings we want to create and how to hint them.
While aware that there isn’t a realistic way to induce that same feeling and memory as expressed in the “Welsh Dressed” because we can’t have the personal and filled with emotional stories objects, we can use other methods to create similar positive emotions in our target audience. It’s just a matter of knowing how.