Giornata di studi_National Designs

Institute for the History and Theory of Art and Architecture

Start date: 24 April 2021

End date: 26 April 2021

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Giornata di studi - Study day


National Designs
Intersections of applied arts and polemic discourse in the long nineteenth century


Saturday, April 24th, 2021
(see below for the program and registration)

In collaboration with the Swiss Society for Cultural Theory and Semiotics SGKS

Sonja Hildebrand (SGKS, USI Mendrisio)
Elena Chestnova (USI Mendrisio)

In the histories of art and design national categories go by the name of "styles." They have been a firm part of this field of study since it was first established in the nineteenth century. But as well as historical and archaeological categories, "styles" in the arts of this period represented national classifications. As artists, designers, historians, and architects began to study Gothic architecture, Chinese painting, and Indian decorative arts, preoccupation with their identity in the global world became increasingly apparent. The connection between national identities and material cultures was not only projected onto historical or found material, but also to contemporary architectures and decorative objects as they became entwined with their national groups.

This study day investigates the overlap between dynamics of national identity and the trajectory of the applied arts in the nineteenth century. It will address the place of national design in relation to various discourses across Europe and the world that hammered out ideals of national belonging. How did the work of designers reflect the growing and changing consciousness of the nation? And how did they deal with its contradictions, contingencies and exclusions? “National Designs” will take a look at Switzerland, Germany and Austria-Hungary, and examine in what ways national polemics interacted with new creations of design.

The event will take place on Zoom. Please register via the link below and further information will be sent to you immediately prior the event.


13.30    Hans-Georg von Arburg (SGKS, Université de Lausanne)


             Elena Chestnova and Sonja Hildebrand (SGKS, USI Mendrisio)


14.00    Ariane Varela Braga (University of Geneva)

              Local, regional, national? Reviving decorative arts in late 19th-
              century Geneva

15.00    Rebecca Houze (Northern Illinois University)

             Multiculturalism and National Identity: The Gödöllő Art Colony in
             Historical Perspective

16.00    Break

16.30    Stefan Muthesius (University of East Anglia)

             “Bavarian” “national” design

17.30    Speaker to be confirmed            

18.30    Concluding Remarks

(Central European Time)

Registration link: