A Reading of Political Reproduction of Design at French World Expos

Document Type : Original Article


1 Assistant Professor, Department of Islamic Art, Faculty of Art & Architecture, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

2 Master of Fashion and Textile Design, Faculty of Art & Architecture, Islamic Azad University of Yazd, Yazd, Iran


Throughout the history of international Expos, first held in Great Britain in 1851, governments made constant effort to reproduce a realm of design aligned with their policies. For instance, the republican French government decided to run a series of dynamic Expos in Paris in 1878, 1889 and 1900. Having just survived the 1870s crisis, the nation used them as respond to a fresh political situation at both national and international levels. Accordingly, this study attempts to provide a reading of the three Expos through a descriptive-explanatory approach, so as to find how design in the realm of Expos held by the French government was reproduced to fulfill political goals. The results suggest that the French government adopted various strategies to institutionalize innovative designs, somehow regarded as political reproductions of art, including: promoting tourist consumerism, building revolutionary monuments, and inventing primitive traditions. As for the first strategy, a new visual representation of information and knowledge about products was exhibited to create a kind of enjoyable entertainment. This provided the government with an opportunity to fulfill its developmental needs as consumer goods or industrial structure through interaction with public opinion and viewpoint. On the other hand, growth of economic capital was supposed to be aligned with its function and value of innovative progress. As for the second strategy, a kind of visual infatuation was created to portray the revolution eternally ideal. Finally, the third strategy kept its human utilization through a comprehensive monitoring over ethnic designs.