DESN 369 – History and Theory of Furniture and Decorative Art
Spring 2020
Research Paper 1: Cross-Cultural Furniture/Decorative Arts Analysis
Learning Outcomes
Perform cross-disciplinary research in order to establish convincing arguments on
positions relating to furniture and decorative arts
Analyze and interpret contextual cultural, sociological, and political factors in
design across geographical, cultural and historical contexts
Select an object or interior that displays significant influence from a previous time period,
another culture, or both. Research the object or space and write a 1250-1500 word formal
academic paper driven by a thesis and argument that analyzes your object or space within
the contexts of its cross-cultural influences.
Before drafting your paper you will want to:
describe your object/space, including material(s), size, shape, color, texture,
imagery/ornament, and any distinguishing characteristics, and be prepared to
integrate your formal analysis into your argument
analyze your object/space within its various cross-cultural contexts – these may
include artistic, social, cultural, economic, or political contexts
compare and contrast your object/space to the source materials from which it pulls
or is otherwise influenced by
Not all of these issues will be relevant to all projects, but you will want to consider the
following questions, as appropriate, when formulating a thesis and constructing an
What aspects of the object/space display evidence of influence from another time
or place? (form, decoration/ornament, materials, use/function, workshop
practices/tools/technology, etc.)
How did these design ideas circulate or reach the designer of your object/space?
(trade, travel, prints, descriptions and other written accounts, conquest, migration,
Did they alter, change, or modify the source material or design ideas in some
way? Why or why not? How?
How did this object or space fit into the design ideas of its own time? Were others
doing similar things? How widespread a cultural practice was this kind of
borrowing at the time? How was this borrowing understood at the time? How was
this object/space received in its own time and place?
All papers must include proper footnotes and bibliography in appropriate
Chicago/Humanities format (see guide on BeachBoard).

All papers must include at least one clear image of your object or space with a caption
indicating name or title (e.g. Portland Vase), responsible parties (i.e. maker/designer etc.)
and date. strongly encourage you to visit the Writer’s Resource Lab for assistance with this paper.

All papers must be
Word or PDF documents 

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