Too Much Fun: Contemporary Aesthetic Theory and Design

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Design and Culture, 2017, 9 (3), pp. 301 - 315
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© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This paper showcases insights derived from the work of Steven Connor, Peter Sloterdijk, and Sianne Ngai, thinkers who give particularly provocative accounts of why the meanings of work and play have changed in the late twentieth century and the way these changes can be read through specific, exemplary objects or services. Following the work of these thinkers, it interprets the relationship between work and play as characteristically dynamic and argues that in cultures where pleasure, fun, and leisure become abundant, the affects associated with these experiences also change. The intent is to provide a suggestive introduction to the work of Connor, Sloterdijk, and Ngai, and do some initial sorting of ideas for subsequent design-focused research. For design practitioners, this article will be useful for the insight generating and discovery phases of the design process. From a design studies and theory perspective, my argument is that the work of these thinkers should sit alongside cultural theorists and philosophers who are more routinely referenced in this field, such as Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, and Jean Baudrillard.
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