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Publisher: Journals Gateway
Design Issues (2017) 33 (1): 48–60.
Published: 01 January 2017
AbstractView article PDF
Designs that mix art and design are especially hard to decode because of the hidden complexities of their object. This paper is an attempt to understand the tensions of art and design objects in relation to semiotic concepts of agency, intentionality, and indication. It does this by examining the ideas of Alfred Gell's anthropology of art and the indicative framework derived from Argentinian semiotician Juan Pablo Bonta and Jørn Guldberg. The toy-like solar lamp Little Sun by Olafur Eliasson and Frederik Ottesen is used as a case that blends the registers of social design and art, and as an example of how designers attempt to determine meaning potentials through design in a complex interplay of different strategies. In the final analysis, what characterize objects like Little Sun is seldom that they communicate their meanings in themselves, but instead rely on forceful mediations to gain their interpretative effects.