Elin Manker (photo: Sven Johansson)

Elin Manker


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Culture and Aesthetics
Telephone 08-16 25 28
Visiting address Frescativägen 24
Room 341
Postal address Institutionen för kultur och estetik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

PhD Candidate in Art History

Research interests: Design and craft history, design and craft theory, aesthetics, materiality, temporality, commercialism

Previous education:
MA in Aesthetics (Södertörn University)
Master of  Education in Visual Arts and Design (Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design)
BA in Art History (Stockholm University)


In my doctoral thesis, with working-title Förlagd Form. Designkritik och designpraktik i Sverige 1860–1890 (Design Criticism and Design Practice in Sweden 1860–1890), I explore the interconnections between aesthetic theories, the production processes and commercial market of early-industrialised design in Sweden.

My starting-point is a writing I call popular aesthetics, a concept borrowed from German Art Historian Carl Lemcke's book from 1865, titled that way. His aesthetics, as well as other German scholars as Jakob von Falke and Gottfried Semper as well as Norwegian Lorentz Dietrichson working in Sweden at the time, differs quit a lot from the more well-known and well-cited aesthetics of writers as John Ruskin. Falke realised they had to work with manufacturing business rather than against it. However, their aesthetic relied on idealistic thoughts and have consequently been handled by most researchers as loaded with a conservative attitude. In my research I instead focus on their collaboration with manufacturing businesses and investigates their aesthetics as an endeavour within modernity.

The thesis follows two trajectories, where the first engages in popular aesthetics performed through advice literature, engineering press and women's journals. At core lies an investigation of how illustrations were used as actors for the aestheticism suggested. If the first trajectory focuses on design criticism, the second instead analyses how design practice within production and consumption business were performed. The object of study here is manufacturing and retailing of paraffin lamps, where two different manufacturers functions as case studies. 

The theoretical approach relies on the concepts of heterogeneity, agency, relations and intra-action as pronounced by sociologists Bruno Latour and John Law, and science theorist Karen Barad. It seeks to understand ornamental prints, pattern sheets and models as actors due to a heterogenic capacity. Methodologically, the thesis works through close readings of these actors. To trace how agency worked, cultural theorist Mieke Bal's notion of 'travelling concepts' is elaborated in the study, here pronounced as migration. Furthermore, design is understood as an intermingling process between production, consumption and mediation, as suggested by design historian Grace Lees-Maffei.

The investigation of the design process taking place within manufacturing is the core of the study. The overall aim of this project is to shed new light upon how design was formed during mid–late 19th century in Sweden, a topic with few earlier extensive studies. 



Confenrence Paper:
'Element Design. Ornamnetal Approach in Late Nineteenth Century Paraffin Lamp Manufacturing'. Copies, Classics & Traditions, Nordic Forum for Design History, Reykjavik, 2018.

Conference Paper (peer-reviewed):
'Popular Aesthetics of the 19th Century - A Concurrent Story to the History of Design, Investigated through an Analysis of Illustrations in the Periodical Press'. Genealogy of Popular Science, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, 2018.

Poster Session:
'Aestethic Strategies of the North. Looking at design through 'popular aesthetics', Det nordiske 1800-tals forskningsnetvaerk: Netvaerksseminar 2017, Köpenhamn

Paper (peer-reviewed):
'How To Comprehend 19th Century Interiors? Comments on ANT and historic interior research'. The Nordic Association of Architectural Research Symposium 2016, Stockholm 



Forthcoming, accepted article (peer-reviewed):
”Popular Aesthetics of the 19th Century. Ornamental Prints and Pattern Sheets as Actors in Swedish Periodicals During the 1870s”, Jesús Mu­noZ Morcillo (ed.): Geneaology of Popular Science, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Please disturb!, pedagogical offprint for exhibition catalogue, The Swedish Society for Crafts and Design, 2005 (co-author)

”Det i flor stående Stockholm – en studie av två malmgårdsträdgårdar”, Bebyggelsehistorisk tidskrift nr 31-32:1996 (togehter with Maria Holmlund)


Last updated: August 19, 2019

Bookmark and share Tell a friend