There seems to be a growing interest in hauntology, a term coined by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in the early 90s. Its current meaning is best described as the intangible effect of a thing or feeling, generated by the emotional influence of the past, on what is being created in the present. At the moment, I’m noticing it most in music, in fact The Wire magazine recently hosted ‘Revenant Forms: the Meaning of Hauntology’, a salon of experimental music and ideas around the subject..
When I was at college we studied Derrida, which led me towards trying out his deconstruction theory in textiles. I experimented with the construction of a repeat pattern by taking it apart and putting it back together again and also played with Cyanotype – a technique of transferring large-scale photographic images onto fabric.
But aside from Derrida, hauntology links with a noticeable and growing trend; the longing for things that remind us of the past. It’s been manifesting itself as a gradual fondness for retro–feeling interiors and products and the popularity of vintage-inspired, shabby chic interiors; second-hand clothes that have a ‘story’ behind them, the phrase ‘loveworn’ increasingly being used in fashion journalism; comfort food and classic British favourites finding their way onto menus in expensive restaurants; ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ posters.
But it’s not necessarily just about flowers, chintz and bunting. You can detect it in Jacques Wirtz’s work who I mentioned in the post about Milan. Architect David Chipperfield’s Neues Museum in Berlin beautifully marries the past with the contemporary, one informing the other to create a brand new kind of experience.
David Chipperfiled Neues Museum
And last year Muji teamed up with Thonet and Konstantin Grcic to reinterpret Thonet’s famous curved wood chairs – the original design of which was first created 150 years ago.
Thonet Muji chair
Once you’re aware of hauntology it makes absolute sense, and you can’t escape it!