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things 2
summer 1995

Learning to Swim

Welcome to issue two of things

Issue one has now sold out. As publishers, we are delighted; as historians and archivists, we are sorry that there are no more copies available. We are printing many more copes of issue two, and look forward to issue three, which will appear in December. Thank you for your support, which makes things possible. 

Many of the comments we have received about things have concerned our title, and our approach. 'We believe that it is only by looking at the world of things as whole,' we said in our first issue; 'not only beautiful ones; and not only their making, but also their buying and their selling, their wanting and their using - that the way can be opened up for a meaningful debate on the nature of good design.' 

Does this mean that we have moved away from design, we have been asked. Yes and no. Yes, we support a shift from the narrow focus on makers and their concerns that has characterised much writing on design. But it is an inclusive shift, for we believe that it is only by bringing the wider study of things in their broadest sense that we can make sense of the decisions made by the designers. And, conversely, we believe that a focus on objects allows us to bring rigorous study of a new range of primary documents to the conversation that constitutes history, as well as sometimes to disconnect the established narratives of the older areas of our discipline - social, economic and political history. 

In other words, in order to understand the design of objects, we believe that we must widen our focus to embrace the contexts in which they are produced and used. Otherwise, we lie in danger of trivialising our task as historians: like Newton (although we join him in acknowledging the greatness of his achievements), we shall perhaps finish by feeling that we have merely been like children playing on the sea-shore, diverting ourselves in now the then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary - whilst the great ocean of truth lies all undiscovered before us. 

things 2, summer 1995

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