Innovation for Added Value: Experimentation With Aluminium in the Fine Crafts and Design.
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Aluminium is often described as a 'material of accents'. Although an essential component of everyday life, it has never overwhelmed the design landscape but has been associated with multiple attributes including preciousness, versatility, economy, strength and lightness.In the 19th century aluminium failed, unlike plastics, to pass itself off as a substitute material. When accepted on its own terms aluminium made its reputation based on its aesthetic neutrality. It is also popular for its lightness, malleability and ability to be recycled and ability to be transformed through printing and colouring. More recently aluminium has become part of aesthetic statements about technology in the work of Ron Arad and Marc Newson. Aluminium has been the subject of popular academic attention through the publication Aluminum By Design, edited by Sarah Nichols and published in 2000, which accompanied a Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh USA) travelling exhibition. This has brought fresh attention to the potential of this area for historical and critical investigation.In this paper it will be argued that areas for further investigation include:a deeper understanding of the aesthetic properties of aluminium products in the context of its use both as a precious 'art' material and within the production of mass consumer goods.a critical understanding of materials innovation within design and craft in AustraliaThis will be demonstrated through the discussion and contextualisation of a project that aims to explore the innovative use of aluminium in craft and product design. Form: Contemporary Craft and Design Inc, (the Western Australian based craft and design organisation) is in partnership with Alcoa to explore the innovative use of aluminium in craft and product design through a series of projects over three years. The dynamics (communication and collaboration) between industry, arts organisations, education and the public within this project will be discussed to provide a regionally specific understanding of current debates and interpretations of design. In particular this discussion will consider issues highlighted by The Myer Report (Commonwealth Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts 2002. Report of the Contemporary Visual Arts and Crafts Inquiry) which describes the commercial contemporary visual arts and craft sector and its interaction with the wider economy as a network, or chain, of individuals, businesses and organizations, with craft practitioners at the supply end. This will include considering what kinds of conditions are most conducive for the promotion of materials innovation as part of a wider creative, cultural discourse and for economic growth.The research investigates: (1) the channels of communication through which contributions to effective innovative solutions are disseminated (2) the nature of value-adding and impact value of the creative arts.
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