Dr Sorcha O’Brien wins research grant for the study of domestic appliances

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    Sorcha O’Brien: 2nd Fundació Història del Disseny and Alfaro Hofmann Collection Research Grant for the Study of Domestic Appliances

    Dr Sorcha O’Brien, Senior Lecturer in Design History & Theory in the School of Art and Design History, recently travelled to the Alfaro Hofmann Collection in Valencia, Spain, to study their extensive collection of 20th century domestic electrical appliances. Dr O’Brien was awarded the 2nd Research Grant for the Study of Domestic Appliances on the Vacuum Cleaner by the Fundació Història del Disseny and the Alfaro Hofmann Collection, for her research on the importation and use of vacuum cleaner in post-war Ireland.

    About the Collection:
    The Alfaro Hofmann Collection is a private collection of domestic electrical products, with about 400 appliances currently exhibited in their permanent exhibition space in Godella, outside Valencia. The collection is based on more than 30 years of collecting by interior designer Andres Alfaro Hofmann (pictured above with Dr. O’Brien), as a complement to his design practice, Studio Alfaro Hoffman, and includes a specialised library of texts, catalogues and references on the domestic habitat and domestic appliances. (link: http://www.alfarohofmann.com/#/home/en)

    About the project:

    Dr. O’Brien’s research project focuses on the meaning and use of domestic electrical appliances in post-war Ireland, where the Electricity Supply Board’s rural electrification project facilitated the wide-spread availability of such products in rural Ireland for the first time. These appliances were associated with ideas of freedom and liberation from drudgery for housewives in other countries, and the vast majority available in Ireland during the 1950s and 1960s were imported from the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and the United States. The project looks at the extent to which they held the same meanings for rural housewives in the conservative, religious environment of 1950s Ireland, where the role of women in the home was enshrined in the Constitution, and the extent to which this changed with the end of protectionist policies in the 1960s. Her research is sponsored by the Modern Interiors Research Centre (link: http://fada.kingston.ac.uk/research/modern-interiors-research-centre/) and the School of Art and Design History (link: http://fada.kingston.ac.uk/schools-and-courses/the-school-of-art-and-design-history/).

     

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