Friday, February 11, 2011

Design and Culture

Design and culture have a two-way relationship; design is always influenced by its surrounding culture and culture is in some ways influenced by design. We saw an example of this after viewing the film “Babette’s Feast” in class. In the 17th century Puritan community of Jutland the architecture and design elements reflected the peoples’ culture. Since Jutland is an isolated peninsula on the Scandinavian coast, the houses were closely clustered together to provide closeness for this tight-knit community. The architecture as well as interior elements were very simple, reflecting the pious, rigid ideals of the people: their focus was on God and worship and not on material things with ornamental flourishes. The main interior room of the religious leader’s house was very plain except for one table to accommodate neighbors who worshipped there together. The only artwork was dedicated to their minister who had passed away. There is a contrast however, when the French maid Babette proposes to cook a feast in honor of the minister. The table in the scene of the dinner party was very decorated, with candelabras, linens, and multiple place settings with fine china and crystal stemware. This reflects the French culture of opulence, and it is seen that the plain people of Jutland are uncomfortable with this…the decorations are showed to cause somewhat of a culture shock. A main way that Babette brought her culture to the people of Jutland was through design, and the space along with the food were the main vessels through which the people experienced this.

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