Meaning, Function and Design of Object in Culture


  • Irina KLIMENKO Don State Technical University
  • Tatiana BERDNIK Don State Technical University



Object, material culture, method of production, design, utility of object, symbolic essence of object, postmodernist concept of object.


In the article object as material embodiment of axiological system of society, as artefact of material culture is under investigation. Object is viewed in a variety of functions and meanings. Its dualistic nature is determined by two essential sides – utility and sacral. In the process of development of civilization the priority of one or another of them changes. In the article these changes are analysed from the viewpoint of historic, social and cultural aspects. Objects of material world in the age of pre-industrial society were created by means of handicraft technique where the whole process of creation from idea to its realization was centred in the hands of one man. Craftsman not only created form, but also gave it certain meaning, that became the basis of cultural tradition. Object transmitted that tradition though generations. Scientific and technical progress changed the process of creation crucially - to machine production. An age of industrial society began, that gave boost to design culture. Design appeared as a new kind of applied arts and method of arrangement of material world. Functionalism as a primary style of early design highlighted utility as a dominating function of object. Production process that was estranged from man deprived object of sacral content. Quality of industrially produced objects was completely determined by their capacity to serve man’s needs. On the other hand man himself started to depend on object. In the end of the XXth century humanity steps into a new period – an age of postindustrial society, ideological concept of which is postmodern culture. Object loses pragmatic function as main manifestation of its essence. Art design appears, where objects are focused not especially on utility, but on artistic experiment. Main function of object becomes provision of communication. Artistic form is filled with plenty of meanings and their interpretation depends on context. Object retrieves its sacral meaning which becomes symbol.

Author Biographies

Irina KLIMENKO, Don State Technical University

Architecture, Design and Art School, Department of Design, Associate Professor, PhD

Tatiana BERDNIK, Don State Technical University

Architecture, Design and Art School, Department of Design, Head of the Department, PhD


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How to Cite

KLIMENKO, I., & BERDNIK, T. (2018). Meaning, Function and Design of Object in Culture. Postmodern Openings, 9(2), 110-119.



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