Soersha Dyon

Soersha Dyon has written 11 posts for Unmaking Things 2011-2012

The Makings of Objects in Translation


The time has come … with much regret, Nina and I are posting our last contribution to Unmaking Things as editors of the column Objects in Translation. For this final article, perhaps a bit of background information is necessary. Following the end of our masters, we both returned to our homeland – Switzerland and France respectively. And so, as well as marking our final post, this is also in its own way the final chapter of our last two years in London. We have therefore tried to bring together our highlights from the column – but also objects and landmarks that are tied to UnMaking Things and our final year in London. (more…)

Me, myself and translation

Now that the locker key has been returned and the diploma received, the end of our two years at the RCA and the V&A has officially been reached. Without sounding too sentimental, the wealth of time at my disposal has left me in a contemplative mood. Things are not so dire that I am gazing longingly through the window, casually writing my thoughts on a Moleskine. Rather, looking back at the work done over the course of the masters – and at my article choices for Unmaking Things – it is clear that my own experiences have shaped both my interests, but also my approach to design history.  Namely, translation has featured as a theme in most of the work I have done over the last two years.


Global/Local Material Cultures Study Day

Bronze Medal with portrait of Mehmed II, by Gentille Bellini, c.1480, V&A, n°A.207-1910 © Victoria and Albert Museum




On the 14th of May, the Royal College of Art hosted a daylong event entitled the “Global Local Material Cultures Study Day.” With nine speakers and subjects ranging from Italian Renaissance bronze medals to the contemporary reworking of the traditional Turkish coffee maker, this study day aimed to bring together a range of practitioners and academics to discuss interactions, transmissions and translations occurring between the Global and the Local within Material Culture.








Lost in translation? by Priya Khanchandani

Entrance and façade of the British Museum, London © Britannica online



// Priya Khanchandani is an MA Candidate in History of Design at the Royal College of Art specialising in Asia. This article is based on a talk delivered at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India as part of a joint workshop with the Royal College of Art / Victoria & Albert Museum on exhibition design. //




The everyday life of artistic transfer in the mediterranean

Detail of pattern from the Esemplario Nuovo, by Tagliente, Venice, 1531. © Soersha Dyon, 2012

Much has been written about the extent of the contact between the Middle East and Italy during the Renaissance – with a marked focus on Venice.  Various authors have traced the circulation of objects around the Mediterranean; a circulation that can be followed back to the Middle Ages, thanks to the crusades and the fashionability of Middle-Eastern textiles and rock crystal vessels. These are all however objects of luxury, which held a high prestige amongst the treasuries of Europe and cabinets of curiosities of Princes. Considering the everyday material culture of Italy, and the extent to which Middle-Eastern influences can be found, only underlines the depth of the exchanges taking place in that period. A perfect example of this is the embroidery pattern book of the Renaissance.


Figuratively speaking, By Priya Khanchandani

 Figuratively speaking: Capturing the Essence of Indian Jewellery, By Priya Khanchandani


Silver anklets, Gujarat, c. 1898-1905. Museum n°IM.287-1927. © Victoria and Albert Museum, 2012



The abundance of nineteenth century Indian jewellery in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum today has led to studies of how it would have been worn, by whom, where and in what form. Research on gold jewellery from India, in particular, has revealed a great deal about the cultural context of its use in the Mughal courts.The collection of silver jewellery, the jewellery that was worn by the majority of Indians, has been covered less extensively. Analysing the profusion of silver jewellery in nineteenth century India, tracing its various forms and types, would be one way of unravelling its history. However, as we will see, its essence is best captured by considering it beyond the literal.





Travelling Beauty: Wilde, Aestheticism and the French.


Beauté, Morale et Volupté dans l'Angleterre d'Oscar Wilde at the Musée d'Orsay. © Soersha Dyon, 2012

Starting on the 13th of September 2011 and running until the 15th of January 2012, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris showed Beauty, Morality and Voluptuousness in Oscar Wilde’s England, the second stop in the Victoria and Albert’s travelling exhibition dedicated to Aestheticism, before it moves on to San Francisco in March 2012.


The Wild West – Was Postmodernism a global phenomenon?

Postmodernism catalogue, edited by Glenn Adamson & Jane Pavitt. © Victoria and Albert Museum, 2011

// Priya Khanchandani is an MA Candidate in History of Design at the Royal College of Art specialising in Asia. In this article, she reflects on the question of Postmodernism beyond the ‘West’, further to a talk she delivered at a Friday Late as part of the V&A’s “Postmodernism Look” event. Priya is a graduate of Cambridge University, previously worked as a lawyer at Clifford Chance LLP and is a Trustee of the Chisenhale Gallery. //

Not even when I visited the Postmodernism exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum for the second time did it appear that anything was missing.1 Brightly lit neon signs guided me seamlessly from the fall of Modernism, symbolised by the demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in America, all the way to the eventual commoditisation of Postmodernism, and thus ending appropriately with the exhibition gift shop.






What’s in a name? Europe and the Porringer.

Commemorative Porringer by John Waite, 1689, V&A. © 2011 Victoria and Albert Museum



The focus of some of my research last year was on a seventeenth-century porringer, see illustration. I initially thought that this was a ‘typical’ British object, so I was surprised to find it had a European use and history. In the context of this column, it is perhaps good to consider that a ‘global’ object doesn’t need to blatantly cry out its cross-cultural status, but that instead such a status can be carefully and subtly cultivated. In a way, the idea and use of an object can migrate from country to country, taking different forms.


The Global Object and the problem of Hybridity


Chintz Cape, c.1775, Coromandel Coast. Photo ©Victoria and Albert Museum

The term hybridity is unavoidable when discussing design and objects within a global perspective as it appears in both historical studies and contemporary article. Yet the word hybrid is rarely discussed or justified, even when it’s use within a design history context could be seen as problematic, particularly concerning objects from a pre-colonial period. Indeed, this particular word has strong political, ethical and cultural associations, associations that fundamentally alter its meaning. (more…)