Jaana Päeva “Everyday Companions: Meaning-Making Process Through Handbag Design” (Dissertationes 34)

The research subject of the dissertation is handbags, the importance of which as a fashion accessory and status object has grown so much in the last decade that the handbag has changed from a functional utility item to a portable manifestation. The focus of the research is the construction and communication of meanings, because by reflecting the thinking of the era and the changing daily needs, the bag is meaningful both for the individual and culturally. The research focuses on the handbag as an independent sculptural and functional object related to the human body, but still separate, and the meanings related to its design, leaving out the meaning creation related to product marketing.

The doctoral thesis uses research through design and a semiotic approach to connect the analysis of historical bags with contemporary design creation. The aim is to study the persistence and change of the meanings of handbags and the potential for new meanings to emerge. The key question is: how does a handbag communicate meanings and how can a designer create meanings when designing a bag?

The thesis presents three case studies. The first one focuses on bag characteristics that communicate innovation. The second explores timeless characteristics to articulate the look and meaning of a classic handbag, and the third deals with the origins of handbags. Specifically, by identifying local or Estonian characteristics in order to formulate the creative principles characteristic of local bag design.

Supervisor: Nithikul Nimkulrat, PhD
External reviewers: Rosita Nenno, PhD Malcolm Barnard, PhD

Opponent: Malcolm Barnard, PhD

Language editors / Copy editors: Michael Haagensen, Mari Tuuling
Design: Angelika Schneider

Dissertations Academiae Artium Estoniae 34

484 pages, in English, with a summary in Estonian
Estonian Academy of Arts, 2021

ISBN 978-9916-619-26-1 (print)
ISBN 978-9916-619-27-8 (pdf)
ISSN 1736-2261

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Posted by Neeme Lopp