On Design and Nostalgia

Haian Xue (2017)

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This doctoral research takes a dynamic, forward-looking and experiential perspective to examine the multifaceted relationship between design and nostalgia for two purposes: to serve as a ground-clearing work for analytical discussions about nostalgia in the design field, and to study the viability of nostalgia-driven design as a strategy for brand revitalisation.

The investigation is developed from three design-related angles: nostalgia as a sociocultural phenomenon, as a subjective experience, and as the basis of a design strategy.

This book is divided into two parts. Part I introduces how the concept of nostalgia has dramatically changed in the past three centuries from a disease to a normal human experience, and from a negative experience to a predominantly positive experience that promotes wellbeing and creativity. It redefines nostalgia as a conditional concept and provides the design field with an updated understanding of nostalgia in relationship to the radical and accelerating changes. It further demonstrates what (commercial and social) design opportunities may accompany with the increasing need for nostalgia, and how designers may better and more creatively design for this experience.

Part II, through studying four real-life cases, explores the underlying nostalgic bonding process, and explicates how nostalgia-driven design has been used to revitalise dormant brands in practice. Drawn from both previous theoretical discussions and the tacit knowledge of the designers who participated in the case studies, it identifies crafting an aura of authenticity to be the latent key to successful nostalgia-driven design strategy. Accordingly, it develops a systematic analysis on how authenticity may be crafted synergistically in design, production and communication terms.

The book at Aalto University shop: shop.aalto.fi/p/979-100353-on-design-and-nostalgia