The first research seminar of this semester, “Electric Turkish Coffee Makers, Design and Everyday Nationalism”, will be delivered by Harun Kaygan on 14th November, 2012, between 12.30 – 13.30 in Kubbealtı at METU Faculty of Architecture.

Industrial design practice and institutions have contributed to the production and normalisation of nations and national belonging since the 19th century. Recently, the affiliation between design and nationalism has been most observable in the proliferation of references to nationally charged forms, concepts and objects — from tea glasses to hamams — in the product design practice of last two decades in Turkey. Whilst there has been some discussion of the symbolic and stylistic significance of such references, it is important to see that there is more of the nation in design than mere symbolism (i.e., that certain objects symbolise certain nations). Having researched the design and consumption settings of electric Turkish coffee makers, I argue that certain imaginations of the nation and tradition have played key parts in these settings. The idea of national cultural authenticity is particularly important for the parts it plays within the various negotiations (e.g., between designers and executives, or designers and imagined users) that make up design processes. The key conclusions regard (1) the political significance of design practice and objects, and (2) the problems of reducing politics to that of symbolism.

Harun Kaygan has BID (2003) and MSc (2006) in Industrial Design at METU. He has recently completed his PhD (2012) in Architecture and Design at the University of Brighton, UK. He has published on various design-theoretical topics, and taught design practice and theory at METU and at the Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK. He is currently teaching part-time at METU, Department of Industrial Design.