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Javier Gimeno-Martinez introduces the key theories of national identity and culture as relates them to the broad field of design, encompassing product, graphic and fashion design as well as architectural history. He approaches the inter-relationship between national identity and cultural production from two perspectives: an approach that focuses on the distinct characteristics of a country's output, and the consumption of design products within a country as a means of generating a national design landscape.
Gimeno-Martinez moves on to address the key concepts of essentialism, constructivism, geography and multiculturality, examining the writings of various philosophers and theorists including Benedict Anderson, Eric Hobsbawm and Doreen Massey. Throughout, he relates the theoretical discussion to examples of design history and state policy towards national cultural industries in countries including the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium.
Gimeno-Martinez's study encompasses a wide range of products, movements and phenomena that are associated with national and regional identity: design schools such as the Dutch collective 'Droog'; country pavilions at World Fairs; national design councils and design centres; flags, currencies, and products such as Delft blue ceramics that are symbolically representative of the Netherlands, despite now being manufactured for the most part in China.
This iilluminating book offers a comprehensive account of how national identity and cultural policy have shaped design, while suggesting that such simple formations of the 'national' are increasingly unsustainable in an age of globalisation, migration and cultural diversity.