The value of functionality


There seems to be two distinct categories within the art community; functional and ornamental.  Throughout my research in my dissertation question of what is craft? I found that Function is often associated with traditional craft. I regarded myself in our seminars as a maker in the craft category, and wanted to create something functional. However the use of bronze in my work limited the functionality of many object i could produce, for example tabel ware.This sparked the question ‘what really is function?’ and ‘what value does it add to an object?’

The dictionary states function as :



the kind of action or activity proper to a person, thing, or institution;the purpose for which something is designed or exists; role.

synonyms for decorative include” (, 2018)

The first example that comes to mind regard Art is tableware. Something highly functional but is designed well and hand made. Wheres sculptures in a gallery are seen as non functional. Unless you view its aesthetics as its function.  

Howard Risatti in a theory of craft discusses stream lining in the 1920’s and 1930’s. This is where an object has ” a contoured designed[sic] to offer the least possible resistance to a current of air, water, etc.; optimally shaped for motion or conductivity.” (, 2018) Risatti describes how large amounts of object were designed and made streamlined where it was not necessary, as it had become a symbol of functionality at the time. ” streamlining style transformed functionality into a sign in a language system, one that overruled actual functionality as a proper inherent in an object’s ability to perform a physical function” (Rissatti, Theory of Craft. p237). This is an example of the popularity of functional objects. How something is  more worthy of investment if it usable. Objects that had no requirement to be streamlined were taking on this form, although visually it may have been just an aesthetic trend. In regards to the art and design community streamlining was used to target

different audiences where functionality was a key factor. If an object has a use, it can support the desire for the object.

However, purpose and function are two separate things; purpose is the act of achieving something the maker has intended for the object to do.

Function is the reason that an object was made, the original intention of the maker, conversely, purpose can be anything the object has the capacity to fulfil. Risatti makes a point of separating the two terms as, with art, in the non functional sense, has a purpose to move the audience and create some form of emotional response, where its function could be just to visually look a certain away. With a functional object, for example a mug, the purpose is to be a piece of tableware, perhaps part of a matching set, and its function is to hold a liquid.

Fine art or ornamental art found in galleries, have always been held in high esteem whereas craft and functional ware was barely even considered a craft. Through the century, craft has slowly been building a reputation for itself. With the help of artists such as William Morris and John Ruskin, founders of the Arts and Crafts movement, the status of craft started to rise to be on par with ornamental arts.  

With so many objects in our modern day lives, we have an abundance of stuff that we can easily buy and replace. The need to have objects that are visually appealing, but have a function, should in theory reduce the amount of stuff we own. With this in mind I wanted to create work that was visually appealing yet useful. I wanted to move away from my comfort zone of sculpture, and progress to functional ware. As the project continued, I realised the materials and form were more important to me than a straight forward function. I decided to focus more on the actual object’s visual appearance and process of making, and work flexibly with the outcomes, building on my progress, rather than forcing a function from the pieces.





Dissertation Reflection.

I found myself enjoying the actual writing of my dissertation. I found that by choosing a subject I am actually interested, that loosely links to my subject worked help me find motivation to write. However I did not have enough motivation do to the foundation work earlier on in the summer, if i could go back i would force myself to do so much more reading and note taking during this time. I can not even explain why i didn’t get my act together and do the work sooner. When it came to the few weeks before formative hand in I was incredibly stressed i had to do a lot of reading and the writing but again found my self enjoying a few of the books I used within the formative. It was a silly mistake which I  payed the price for during formative.

I am having issues splitting my week in to subject and dissertation time. I found I have not been able to focus on writing when my project is so up in the air and so close to the summative deadline for subject. I know I should not but I feel like I may have to reduce the dissertation work to just reading extra books during the term and focus more of the writing during Christmas. This will not be easy but I believe it is better to do this rather that procrastinating with Sennett’s ‘The Craftsman’ open in front of me for the whole day.

Another big worry for me is getting the dissertation technically correct, so getting the referencing correct, the abstract, making sure I do not plagiarise myself  and the structure to name a few points. I am confident enough that I will hand in a relatively okay piece of writing and I do not think I will fail. The fact that the dissertations hold so much weight in regards to credits accounting towards my degree is very scary, as I find this is not my strongest are.  I know not to let that worry me as from previous essay i have surprised my self and managed to achieve good marks, so with better time management i can achieve a good dissertation.

I am still worrying about the dissertation and am slightly anxious by the huge word count. The largest piece of writing I have previously had to do is 4000 and that was the proposal. So 8000-10,000 is a little bit daunting. I have left a lot of the work  till this term but there is nothing I can do except face the challenge, try to improve my time management skills and get on with it.

Level 5 PDP

For second year constellation i initially choose the option art, science and the construction of reality. I decided to try a lecture series that was more philosophical based as my first year was based on cognitive development and art movements such as post modernism. I find it difficult to understand philosophical problems especially the kind where the answers are neither wrong or right i prefer something with more of a solid answer based on facts and figures. My dislike for option lies in my capabilities for philosophy, not in the structure of lessons. I can not really comment on this because i only had one session on this topic.It really was not for. I was able to swap to another group where the topic was cognitive future. The sessions were grouped into five hour slots over 5 weeks, as i enjoyed the subject area i found that 5 hours worked well as it takes me a while to focus on tasks. The time allotted allowed me to learn and process more information  than i would in the 2 hour sessions. If i did not enjoy the subject i don’t think i would have coped in the long sessions.


The topics included

  1. The senses mistrusted
  2. Designing aesthetic worlds
  3. Designing futuring
  4. Critical design
  5. Dissertation proposal notes.


Although i was not there for the first session i appreciated the recap of practitioners from the previous year, as it helped to refresh some of the topics from first year but also set up the sessions to come after. I found i was able to see the physical design side of the subject and the cognitive, perception side.The topics were mainly based on skills and knowledge that can be applied to a physical object like the mass production of a washing machine and how it came to be a necessary part of home life instead of being a communal task. Key features that appeared in a few of the weeks were elements like sustainability, or how to communicate an idea or concept in a way that catches peoples for attention, (STI’s in toy form). The majority of the time i don’t like working in groups, but in this situation the group project were short and to the point including a small presentation that by the end didn’t feel that overwhelming.Although there was a certain aspect of philosophy i thought of it as more contextual, which as a maker suited my practice more so than the other options for level 5. In particular i found Wabi-Sabi to be the most interesting topic as i bound the concept behind it useful to my practising, i was very keen to learn about how different design can be in eastern cultures as there was a focus on the west as we are part of it. However i decided to write my formative about Wabi-Sabi because of how hauntingly beautiful i found the extracts from Leonard koren  Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers. I have since incorporated some of the elements of wabi sabi into my subject and field work. From the aesthetic qualities to the sustainability and acceptance of impurities the whole topic of Wabi-Sabi really inspired me. Stuart Walker’s research on critical design and the era of postmodernity was also a highlight of the sessions, i have used it to support my argument within my dissertation plan, the subject links to my practice and possibly the future of making and craft..


The second term of constellation was difficult for me as writing theories and concepts for a dissertation is difficult for me. Surprisingly i found that i had too many ideas to pinpoint a question or even a general direction for my thesis. I decided against an artefact because given the choice to make i would spend more time on the physical side of the project and not the context within the writing. After a lot of procrastination i found the i want to base my thesis on craft, it’s something i define my practice as i find it a very interesting subject. I found the proposal sheet with the questions on  helpful as it gave us questions and certain specifications to include in our writing. I found the tone of the proposal different to what i had previously written. I am used to creating a question, finding research and supporting my argument. However to me this proposal wasn’t as straight forward i found deffincerating between the back ground reading/review of key literature/ critical context to the research plan. I feel like they were all asking for the same information but in different ways. This was difficult to not repeat myself.  

The word count was very intimidating, and i found myself wishing the previous assessment had built up to a higher word count to prepare myself. However after finish the proposal i found it to be a good amount of words i was able to get my theories and concepts across with a certain amount of explanation. As i’m a doing a word count 4000 words is half of the minimum amount for the dissertation so it has prepared me in a way that i don’t feel as intimidated as i was before. The proposal has brought me a lot of clarity about my thesis which may change over summer but i feel as if i can actually tackle the project now. IM very glad that i was able to pick constellation choices in my first and second year that i enjoyed as they have all aided me in the writing on the dissertation proposal. More importantly my subject choice for the 10,000 words reflect who i am as a maker and the practice i want to to explore and work in after university.


Cognitive futures – Designing aesthetic worlds 

Part 1 :Rethink material culture 

Stuart walker lancaster- ted talk

 • What he is arguing against 

 • What is he arguing for 

 • What the take home message is 

 1. How we got to a state of unsustainability . Maternity started around 1500 – 1700 industrial revolution around the middle of 20th indusrty we realised we were using to kill each other in large numbers. Post madernity 21st century dominate our systems thinking and doing. Ideas are dead. Did split knowledge into compartments cognition, social science, arts, spirituality dropped out of the mix. 

Cognitive was the privileged knowledge of modernity . Reliable knowledge which lead into scientific advancement . Took science applied it technologies. Use of technology then became mass produced . Sell them. Western style capitalism . Consumerism, design close ally of consumerism. Global . Break down trade barriers sport the idea and consumer based growth, under cost material encourages consumption. Polluters don’t pay exploits nature exploits people treats them as units of production. Meaningless sense of .unsustainbale system finite growth . Constant growth in GDP. Growth in material harvesting. Increased in energy use. 

Mass produced water bottle present state of the product. Origins and end result. Land use roads sites drilling pumping refining manufacturing shipping distributing vending using (brief) discarding littering collecting . These are other present states unsustainable 

  • Applies to a host of disposable product shot life span objects battery’s phones fast fashion 

Environment social and economic triple bottom line not comprehensive doesn’t realte to individual varies in relatable. Economic culture thinks by adding a recycling sticker the job is done. Expands the practical meaning the human need and its environmental needs, spiritual need. 

  • Utility social,spiritual views of the worlds 

 Ustainabilty form follows meaning.  Reuse soap bottle in a lamp combing local and mass production, local would help with environment fall out and jobs. Emphemeral producst that have no ill effect of the environment . Fruit to act as a light. Mp3 re contextualising component in a larger object new exciting. Binds a battery circuit with a natural element reminds us of where it comes from . Floor lamp electrical off the shelf other components completely natural end of life can be separated re absorbed into the environment electrical can be reused. Land water and air. Disposable ink cartridges disposable battery go into the water turning on a co2 pump don’t just accept objects they’re at the heart of unsustainbable 

 Small experiments to change how we use objects how we derail weigh those objects . 

  Move away form a knowledge economy to a wisdom economy to what we should do not what we can do. 

 • Sustainability think about products effect in and on the world 

 • Single use products , relying on current practices, continual growth model,

 • Move know and knowledge culture to a wisdom culture. What we can do vs what we should do. 

 Division of knowledge is crucial the way we perceive knowledgIaberfan i44 people killed with a slackly in the coal mine sliding down a hill taking a school out 

Were not considering the wider impact in terms of design . Have we stopped de humanising and exploiting people 

  • Spirit of design , sustaining by design .

Arguing against products being bland boring lack of creativity or innovation products that drive us further down a path of destruction exploitation and unsustainability

 Products to have worth not only be about its apprearnce or a cheap façade, 

 Arguing for products that tackle issues, breaking current norms arguing for change in education. Aesthetics .

Cultural tendencies to the west function. Greater financial gain for comusial purposes in the industrial sense. Spirituality and meaning has been written out. 

Machines dig out diamonds no consideration for size of the diamond. 

 Droog wither tree seating. Crossing between nature 

 Sits in a space between art and design . 

 Part 2 what does aesthetic design look like?

 Wabi-sabi – beauty of thing imperfect, impermanent and incomplete, things modest and humble, things unconsenvitional . 

 More positive aesthetic meaning, instead of the negative of living along away from society . 


 • A way of life a spiritual path

 • The inward the subjective

 • A philosophical construct

 • Spiritual events. 


 • Material objects art and literature

 • The outward objective

 • An aesthetic ideal 

 • Temporal levels
Differences between modernism and wabi sabi is that it is mainly targeted or open to the private domain where’s my practice as a maker is for everyone primarily the public realm. Im my practice is use a lot of steel or materials made from ores that have been maufatured in to a state I can manipulate. Wabi sabi embodys the spirituality and journey of a natural material. Although we both embody the journey within our practice the core material for me are man made. A similarity between wabi sabi and my practice is the corrosion and contamination makes it expression richer. I interpret this as non pure materials showing even highlighting imperfections that can create individuality texture colour uniqueness. Instead of a pure straight cut piece. I feel this links in perfect immaterialty links in to this as well. I use different materials that link together being impure. I make objects that can be functional but also can also be just for its aesthetic. The majority of my work is for display and cant be used as a functional ever day object . Wabi sabi take on function and utility is that its not a primary value unlike modernism my work similarly is usuall bespoke sculptures that are one ok a kind I do not like the idea of my type of work being mass produced. It looses its standard of handcrafting and doesn’t get the individual care and through throught its making . 

Wabi sabi demonstrates the lack of control over nature and how to work with it and more importantly learn from it or in a way accept it . Nothing finishes nothing is perfect you have no control.

 Eventually everything fades into oblivion or non existence . Everything is imperfect. Everything is incomplete. It’s not negative nor is it positive it’s coming to terms of reality of life,of change . Physical forces and deep structures that underline our everyday world. 

In the west thing  or objects don’t last we re buy it has a function it breaks were now wowed but anything where wabi sabi embodys beauty endurance, its subtly and not in your fave like most western culture it says you need to slow down be patient and look closely which our culture wont or cant do everything is fast paces and constantly moving we are blinded. A lot not it is based on how you perceive thing like what do you consider ugly? Where’s thingis the west are generic standard for many people. It challenges you ideal on whether for example is it beautiful ugly grotesque or homely?

Ugly houses in north wales 
How would we view our practices differently if we embedded in our briefs 

Enduring artefacts. Objects that serve no purpose are not useful objects that don’t tackel sustainable issues in design and manufacturing. Need to destinguish between and general object and object type . Understand sustainable solutions between 

Classification system functional, social or positional, inspiration and spiritual.  
Re design an ordinary object. Functiona to inspirational/ spiritual. 

Art, science and the construction of reality

What do you understand as truth? • Something you believe as honest or right

 • Belief 

 • Sight 

 • Proved correct 

 • Evidence

What counts as knowledge in the age of the internet?

 • Knowing of information 

 • Educated 

 • Knowing about technology 

 • Understanding of processes 

 • Fast thinking through technology.

 • The internet has the knowledge that we doing posses nor do we want to learn it all. 

 • Don’t have to work for the information. 
Is belief the same as truth?

I believe that so is it true?
The earth was believed to be flat cameras and physical evidence proved opur initial beliefes were untrue. We did not have enough knowledge to have the truth.
Art and science makes claims to truth but they both have very different understandings of truth.

Science is valued more than belief in the western world. Art is being removed from the core curriculum. 

Formative assessment 1000 words. Prep for dissertation proposal. 

18th november study visit to the science museum and the tate britain for the turner prize.

Assessment criteria – actually read it!
History and theory of art and design 

Why art and design matters. The objects do not speak for themselves

Knowledge is no the consumption of truths , facts are manufactured, inquiry is an ongoing interactive practice.

Reflection on your learning across all parts of your course including your studio practice pep. 
Facts are manufactured, science and facts are ever changing cant decided on a final answer. 
What we believes in the 17th century is now more refined has changed . Knowledge is spreading out instead of zooming in. On going oprocess can not ever stop. Its interactive always working with the voice (work) of someone else always comparing. 
If I had to invite 4 figures of people from my practice that have influence me I would have a sense of who I would want to bring. Due to my relationship to them or theirs work. Comparison and contrast.
PDP- being aware of how we are behaving and acting how it is reflecting out practice, our roll. Were not receiver education is more that a passage. We recognise how and what we are learning. 
Showing examples.
The essay- enquire exploration have an opinion or a view but include in other views.
 The what things are……………………………… its all a matter of personal opinion.
 • Histories theories

 • Artefacts texts

 • Beliefs concepts

 • Arguments 
Record the most important argument and why – judgment call 

Which views are strong more evidence stronger more possibilities, references to scientific discovery , artefacts texts philosophers artists. 
There is no such thing as the way things are. There aere other ways of seeing the world. 
What does a virus look like?

Constellation summary 

During my first term of uni I attended the constellation group pertaining to the visual, In these sessions I learnt about how to context my work and different movements from popular culture to modernism. In my second term of constellation I took the sessions on Creativity and cognitive development within art and design. This is where we discussed philosophers who studied and created theory’s on cognition, it’s development in different ages and how it is influenced and developed.

Constellation has influenced the way I think about my practice in a few ways. After my lesions in pertaining to the visual I learnt how to add depth to my work by using different contexts, I also learnt that depending on these contexts my target audience would either tie in with specialists or the masses. This planning really altered my projects for the best, my work became more relatable. For example my current project is about recycling plastic bags in ways that the masses or the public can easily relate to and re create. Creativity and cognitive development within art and design has really changed how I see and use my practice. My understanding on how my cognition works and how to further its development has really benefited my work. Being an “arty person” and not really connecting with the important academic subjects made school a little bit challenging. So by learning about theory’s and philosophers that explain how it’s okay and how to enhances my abilities has made me feel more comfortable with where my passions and abilities lie. 

The academic and writing skills have really improved my writing. Before This course I had never written a proper essay in my art and design education. I still have a lot to work on and a lot of time before I have to start my dissertation, but I truly feel like after every essay I write I get much closer. I have a tendency to write how I speak and I’m slowly learning how to sound more professional in my academic writing.  

I enjoyed my cognition lectures a lot more than my pertaining to the visual lecture. I was really inspired by the philosophers and theory’s that reflect children in education, which is why I choose to do my essay on this subject. For example Arnhiem’s and Piagett’s theory about how the sides of the brain are linked with arts and academic, or how there’s a stigma against art in education. I also found Piagetts theory of children philosophers intriguing. I stated seeing thing in a different perspective just because someone doesn’t think the same way as you are they less intelligent? I really want to explore how our education systems affect children’s cognition, whether its stemming their growth or supporting its development. I feel that I have a first hand experience and understand the stigma within in education.  

Learning about the reasoning and choices behind our educational system has really changed my view on how art students and even working artists are and have been treated. I have researched many different educational systems and opinions and research associated with them. I can honestly say if given the opportunity I would carry on with this research and keep supporting a reform of our educational system. Children in mainstream school are not being pushed the their full capacity or full cognitive development. After this term of constellation I feel very strongly that the current curriculum in lower school is wrong and needs to be changed 

It was interesting to hear other students from different practices explain theory’s and relate it to their work. In a lot of cases I haven’t connected or even explored their areas of art and design so I really did find it interesting. For example how an illustrator would link and theory to their work was completely different to me a maker.A good example of this was when we were learning about agency’s and how a product can not happen without participating factors.Such as Ingold’s basket weaving example. The factors that I would use like the material or environment to work in would be completely different for a textile student. It gave me a new perspective and a chance to look at a problem or question through their eyes. 

In the pertaining to the visual lectures there wasn’t very much group work however the content of this lecture was general art knowledge that applied to everyone the same way if used. So working as one large group whilst receiving a lot of information this was a good style of teaching. In the cognitive development lectures there was a lot of small group work, as most theory’s could be interpreted to our individual practice it was interesting to hear other people relate to their practices differently so the small groups benefited us. Both styles suited the information that we were receiving and interpreting but I did prefere comparing and sharing our ideas with a small group before sharing with the whole class.  

Over all I really enjoyed my constellation lectures this year, I’ve never had lectures like them before so it was a completely new experience fore me. I found that key notes were a good way of broadening my knowledge that little further and seeing what other choices are available . However creativity and cognitive development in art and design was the sessions that I found the most beneficial to me. I found the extracts hard to decipher but ones I did I enjoyed learning about the theory’s and how it explains and can help me in my practice.  

How my practice acknowledges individual cognitive development

Generally children learn the best through playing and discovering through their own actions. Jean Piagett explains in his theory that he persieves children to be philosophers. They are not unintelligent.A lot of adults assume that because they think differently to us and see the world from a different perspective that they are less inteligent. it doesnt make them intelectually weaker than adults just different.

My practice as an art and and design student, a maker acknowledges individual cognitive development by encouraging the interacive and creative side of our brains. We design and think about our designs but are also highly encouraged to make, to practice, to learn techniques to make our thoughts and idead come to life, making them 3D.

Piaget descibed the relation between subject and object how they are fussed. They bounce of each other. By using one either subject or object you can understand the opposite. Art and design balances the the high need or understanding for both subject and object without either our work or projects would not reach its full potential or be fully understood. A key part of every childs cogitive development is the learning and understanding of this relationship no matter the individual. This relationship is the building blocks for development that art and design keeps encouragingng and using.

Generally a large amount of “artistic” people have disoreders such as dyslexi so understanding subject can be truly dfficult. But the need for balance to explain the  subject helps encourage the develpoment and learning of it. Art and design also supports artist more heavily in this deparement furthing our cognitive development.Maker has a balance of both accademic and perceptive arts giving us a well rounded view and understanding of the world.