Designing Modern France

Design embodies the complexities of modern national identity. Objects and environments are effective yet under-examined manifestations of the “soft power” which the political scientist Joseph Nye has argued is an important tool within international diplomacy. Part of a larger project assessing how the aspirations and ruptures of the Third, Fourth and Fifth Republics inhabit design practices in glass, wood, wool and metal produced in France’s volatile geo-political borderlands, this talk explores how the last great ocean liner “Le France” launched by President Charles De Gaulle and his wife Yvonne in 1960 projected local and national identity to the global community.