The Problematic Discourse on ’Philippe Starck’s’ Delano Hotel (1999)

Focus on form: The Form of the Writings

III. The Problematic Discourse on "Philippe Starck’s" Delano Hotel (1999) - Focus on form: The Form of the Writings

For this study, I’ve employed critical discourse analysis and applied genre analysis, centred within an applied linguistics orientation, in order to provide detailed insights into how these writings are constructed— which will deepen our understanding about their nature, their shortcomings, how this affects content, and their potential relationships to academic publications. Using Walker’s (1989:14-16) distinctions about the various levels of discourse, the selected totality of writings on the Delano, largely draws from the "meta-discourse of writings and images about design", in other words, journalism about design and trade magazines. For Walker, design historians approach their tasks and encompass the discourse of the design object, and the meta-discourse. So, it would seem that from this orientation, some of the procedures of "writers" and academics meet, and it is well-known that academics do at times write for the popular press.

Aspects of Critical Discourse Analysis

With his publications, Fairclough (1989, 1992, 1995a, 1995b) has discussed and refined critical discourse analysis as a means for critically examining texts through a variety of approaches for textual inquiry. Fairclough’s strategies help us address the questions of to what extent the writings on the Delano are shaped through a publishing system, and how this may affects what we read on the hotel. Further, Fairclough’s Media Discourse (1995b) focuses on media texts, and the published writings on the Delano largely consist of these— newspapers and magazines, and I would assert that the current Starck survey book material is a media text, due to its visual organization of short essays. Fairclough raises questions about the socio-cultural issues surrounding media texts, raises the issue of intertextuality of the texts horizontally— across published texts— and vertically, the "texts" that are more or less contained within published texts. (This issue was addressed in the previous section regarding the information totality vis-à-vis the form of communication.) Fairclough also addresses the topics of representation of the media, macrostructures, or themes, as well as the power of the media through "identity and social relations in media texts". All of these issues are relevant to design writings; while the subject "design" may be different, the writing context is essentially subjected to the same considerations.

Fairclough also addresses the issue of power and language / writing, and he develops "an analytical framework— a theory and method— for studying language in its relation to power and ideology... as a resource for people who are struggling against domination and oppression in its linguistic forms." Specifically on one count, "power is conceptualized... in terms of unequal capacity to control how texts are produced, distributed, and consumed... in particular sociocultural contexts." (1995a: 1-2) [4]. This is particularly noteworthy within a design context as the design players structurally exercise a certain amount of power over their readerships by presenting the chiseled-and-sealed text, and the entire context of the published writing is not presented due to genre considerations. I’ve selected the following three questions which seem relevant to my task, which Fairclough describes as helping to develop critical media literacy (see Figure 4 below).

Figure 4. Selected questions from Fairclough (1995b: 202-5)
1. What wider sociocultural processes is this text a part of, what are its wider social conditions, and what are its likely effects?
2. How are texts of this sort produced, and in what ways are they likely to be interpreted and used?
3. How is the text designed, why is it designed this way, and how else could it have been designed?


As these are large, complicated questions, it is necessary to examine their sub-questions. While a thorough examination of the writings on the Delano hotel using these procedures would create a lengthy book, through selections, I hope to illuminate certain problems and key issues with the information published about the hotel, its intertextuality, and the problems concerning the truthfulness of the information presented. Also, instead of a bottom-up procedure that Fairclough lays out (Fairclough lays out the questions for inquiry in reverse), I employ a top-down process (from generalities to specificities) as a means to focus on the information, or subject matter, itself.

Sociocultural Processes

1. What wider sociocultural processes is this text a part of, what are its wider social conditions, and what are its likely effects?

For the assessment of the Delano’s writings, "the economics of media", and the "practices of media text production and consumption" (1995b: 35-52) need to be considered. For economic considerations, "the press [is] pre-eminently [a] profit-making organization", "they make their profits by selling audiences to advertisers, and they do this by achieving the lowest possible financial outlay", and "they are very much open to the effects of commercial pressures" (p. 42). These considerations clearly affect all publications, including the design press to varying degrees, to which the ins and outs of these considerations will never be clearly known, as publications engage— to varying degrees— in their own internal discourses which are subjected to the same informational gatekeeping as designers and their diaspora in relation to designs. "The politics of media" can be interpreted as "the politics of the discussed / excluded design" in the context of publications with competing avant-garde agendas— be they design, lifestyle, travel, and gossip. This can be considered comparable to Carrier’s examination of four "international", but New York-centered art magazines, that while writing in different genres (or approaches) for different audiences, often end up writing about a similar group of artists (1987: 108-134). Regarding the lifestyle and art and design trade press coverage on the Delano Hotel, we see Vanity Fair (June 1995), Vogue (September 1996), Travel & Leisure (Oct 1, 1995), Metropolis (December 1995), Interior Design (October 1995); yet more competitively, for the art and design trade press coverage of the Mondrian, we see March 1997 coverage in Blueprint, Interior Design, and Interiors; March-April 1997 in Hospitality Design; and April 1997 in Metropolis. (Click to see references.)

Fairclough also refers to "practices of media text production and consumption where production is "managed through sets of institutional routines" of collecting and selecting material, and editing and transforming source material. He sees the production of a text as a collective process, from journalists to editorial staff (1995b: 48), yet within the context of the writings on the Delano, he’s leaning more towards newspaper articles than the design trade press. For news, he sees them as having a "heavily embedded and layered character (ibid) which, in essence, is comparable to a series of writing drafts by an individual who is emplotting, editing, and reconsidering, yet within a news context, are across different people. Therefore, sole authorship is really an illusion, or a romantic individualistic notion, as it doesn’t take into account editorial, the publication, and the audience, and the surface structure of a byline, if included, doesn’t illuminate this process (and my justification for an emphasis on the in-text referencing procedure of "writer" in "magazine" as in "Webb in Interiors"). Even academic articles are not immune from negotiated editorial procedures, which studies like Myers’ (1985) have examined. Regarding authorship of this dissertation, it does not take into account all of the influences and discussions shaping this text. This discussion by Fairclough is significant in that it opens the way for discussions about intertextuality of sources— which will be addressed later.

The Legal Dimension

Unfortunately, Fairclough does not elaborate on the legalities of the media, to which all forms of "published" media are accountable. Two issues are libel (which is slander in publication form) through accusation and innuendo; and copyright law considerations. According to Clayton in Journalism for Beginners (1992: 203-5) [5], "The libel law means all sorts of agonies for uninformed journalists", and the difference between an accusation, and an assertion that isn’t, can be subtle— and is ultimately determined by judges and juries. Clayton offers the example of "A male VIP attends a civic function. It’s reported in the local Press. There was a woman with the VIP, so the beginner reporter writes: ’Mr Baker arrived at the function with his wife.’" Unfortunately however "She was his mistress" and "His wife has every right to sue the paper." Innuendo runs the same risks, and according to Clayton, it’s not the accuracy of the writer in question, it’s the effect, in other words, interpretation is more powerful than the intention of the writer. Meanwhile for Hennessy, in [his] 7-question outline for suggesting if a story idea has potential, [he] writes, "Are there any dangers of libel, or other legal or ethical considerations?" While discussing artworks or designs directly seems a safe area for criticism, the writer needs to be careful regarding discussions of the artist / designer, their business, and really their design. As further evidence to stress the concerns of possible libel suits for publications and writers, consider the following quotes from the US-based National Writers Union advertisement for their "First Group Libel Insurance Plan" (c. 1999):

"... protect[s] freelance writers and authors against the costs of libel lawsuits, which are often used to intimidate investigative reporters, unauthorized biographers and other writers... Almost all book contracts and a significant number of contracts for freelance newspaper and magazine articles contain a provision called indemnification... you, the writer, assume responsibility for all legal costs— yours and the publishers— if someone sues, or threatens to sue, over the content of your writing... Those who do investigative reporting or write celebrity biographies... run a higher risk of being sued... almost any writer is potentially susceptible to a suit of some sort... Many writers engage in self-censorship because they worry about the possibility of being sued. A handful of writers have faced financial ruin because of a lawsuit... Having this coverage will allow you to publish even those controversial pieces of writing without worrying that you are risking all your worldly possessions by doing so." [6] (my italics)

Appendix B provides greater detail of the complexities of defamation law with implications for writings— and design writing. The law is interpreted by juries, and while there are defenses, they are vague. Specific case rulings can make one weary about criticizing a designer, and this directly affects the working culture. There is no academic immunity whatsoever, and academics may be dangerously misguided with assumptions and the feeling of safe precedence. Lastly, defamation law of the present raises questions to statements about the dead; one cannot defame the dead, but then the dead can’t defend or threaten a lawsuit (see Appendix B for more detail).

These considerations, which may be unfamiliar to the uninitiated, directly affect this study. In a Delano hotel context, [The following is an omitted section from the dissertation which has been self-censored due to legal considerations.]

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Self-Censored (See Appendix B and Sociocultural Processes) xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxx xx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxx x x xxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx.

Self-Censored (See Appendix B and Sociocultural Processes) xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxx xx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxx x x xxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx.

Self-Censored (See Appendix B and Sociocultural Processes) xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxx xx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxx x x xxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx.

Self-Censored (See Appendix B and Sociocultural Processes) xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxx xx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxx x x xxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx.

Self-Censored (See Appendix B and Sociocultural Processes) xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxx xx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxx x x xxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx. xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxx xx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxx x x xxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx x.

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Self-Censored (See Appendix B and Sociocultural Processes) xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx.

xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx .

Self-Censored (See Appendix B and Sociocultural Processes) xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx.

Summary: Implications of Sociological Processes and Uncertainty

The libel laws mentioned above specifically approach a UK context, yet do they extend internationally across international media? According to Richard Cullen, "The libel laws may appear different on the surface, but the effect is very similar. But in the US, there is a relatively broad defense for criticism of public figures," which would create a sense of irony as information might be freer, while at the same time delivered in a comparatively rather litigious society.

It would be grossly inaccurate to claim that criticism doesn’t occur; it does, but as art and design academics, most of us really don’t know the process and the procedures. The implications of the economic, political, and legal processes are staggering when considering the subject matter totality that we do not see, creating a grey area of ambiguities, that results in intertextual spoken and written texts that we as external examiners of a design have little if any access to. This then leads to the problem of presences, absences, and our performance: We must provide some sort of information, and we provide what we can get, instead of necessarily discussing the problems for the information we can’t get. As writers and speakers, we must be careful how we get and use sources, the potential interpretations of the meanings of the words and phrases we use, and the strategy of hedging (using words and phrases to weaken claims like "it seems", "probably", "many") may not be defensible. Further, with the emphasis upon "facts", it is questionable whether employing a specific methodology is a defense, if the "facts" aren’t there. Most problematically is the lack of clear and comprehensive guidelines to follow, and in a conservative environment, exclusion of assessment and findings may indeed be the preferred route than inclusion (National Writers Union Libel insurance plan material, c. 1999).

Legally, academic publications and even two copies of a dissertation aren’t immune, and legally even showing a copy to a supervisor and external examiner isn’t immune either. The same applies to spoken discourse, including that in classrooms, potentially affecting discussion of the sources and their vested interests, the meanings, the interpretations, other writers, and ambitious press releases. While things may in fact be printed and said and be libelous / slanderous, the issue are self-censorship, editorial censorship, and threats of lawsuits. The impact on the writings means that we are presented with writings which are a surface structure of a sociocultural process, that we often have no knowledge of, and writers, academics and students need to take this into account when using this source material and the complex decisions that are contained within them— both in their presence and absence. The historical implications are that the sociocultural media contexts of these historical writings need to also be considered, and the uncertainty illuminated. Unfortunately, if these laws were to be enforced in a variety of media, critical information contained within the grey area would only surface in those publications that can afford technical legal and language advice and be prepared to deal with the threats of lawsuits. Concerning a dissertation at the University of Central England, Secretary and Registrar Maxine Penlington (1999) writes, "If we considered a work to be potentially defamatory, therefore, we might choose to avoid the potential costs of litigation for defamation by choosing not to publish the work in the library rather than incur the costs of legal advice." This is understandable, yet who determines that a work is potentially defamatory— if lawyers aren’t— and how does this affect notions of idealistic "academic freedom"?

Copyright Law [10]

The purpose of copyright law is to control reproduction, and also is fairly complicated. Through copyright law procedures, a copyright owner can sometimes have the ability to control the images of their work; in other words, when they own the copyright, they can. This is particularly significant considering that art and design texts offer visual imagery to various extents.

How do publications get visual material? There are several issues concerning the reproduction of visual material in newspapers, magazines, and books. Industry standard for visual arts magazines is that the press office or artist / designer supply the photographs without a signed release; or the writer takes a photograph; or a photographer is hired and provided a fee. However, the industry standard for book material is a signed permission form indicating the fee provided, if any, to the copyright holder, who may be the photographer or the artist / designer or someone else.

The legalities of copyrights are complicated for visual arts material. For example, an outdoor sculpture can be photographed with a person in the photograph, and then the copyright holder is the photographer; yet without a person, the copyright holder is the copyright holder of the photograph— and the sculpture. Further, through property and contract law, a property owner can restrict the taking of photographs on their property. So, for example, approval may be required to photograph an interior and / or its furnishings, and its grounds. Yet for good reproductions, proper lighting and a proper photographer is needed. Exteriors however, can be more easily photographed, yet require greater photographic skill.

The point of discussing copyright law is, when taking into account the economics of publication (for example, well-known and not so well-known art work reproductions can cost over 300 pounds for a book print run of only 2500) and the potential cost of hiring photographers, magazine publications that cannot afford to hire them rely upon being supplied images from press offices and artists / designers directly. (In fact, in the over 50 popular press publications I’ve written, this has always been the case.) Secondly, copyright holders do not have to release reproduction permission, and the industry uses copyright forms written in legalese. Recently, Griffiths in The Times Higher Educational Supplement (12 February 1999) reported that Anne Whitehead, research fellow at Newcastle University, was denied permission by poet Ted Hughes’ estate to use a number of quotations in her academic article to appear in Textual Practice, because of what is believed to be its contentious interpretation. Equally in a telephone conversation in February 1999, Dr. Whitehead refused my request of a copy of the letter declining permission. For visual imagery, there may not be a legal way around this for visual images— particularly in relation to property law. As a result, a critical media awareness for art and design texts should account for the politics, economics, and legalities of securing copyright approval, and it offers another vertical, intertextual document. Academic dissertations may also not be immune, given that they legally have been determined by Shakespeares Solicitors as legal publications (see Appendix B).

Sociology of the Writers

In his situational / contextual analysis for writings, Bhatia (1993: 23), in the applied genre analysis vein, suggests "defining the speaker/writer of the text..." as a means of better understanding the context of the writings. For the published writings on the Delano, the writers for this material vary over newspapers, magazines, and book material and those sub-genres within them. The writers exist along continuums of form (genre) and subject specialisms, including self-taught writers to those university-trained in communications and journalism; for content knowledge, from vernacular knowledge of art and design to studio to history and criticism to everything imaginable on the planet. To a great extent, the publication genres dictate the form and content, and the form can be learned in newspaper and magazine writing books like those by Clayton (1992) and Hennessy (1997). The visual arts content orientation, in Bhatia’s outside-in approach for "Studying the institutional context" (p. 24), includes consulting "guide books, manuals, practitioner advice and discussions of the social structure, interactions, history, beliefs, goals of the community in published or otherwise available literature. This step may also include the study of the organizational context, if that is seen to have influenced the genre construction in any way." Problematically, the interplay of understandings between language form and content in academic and media writings is difficult in actually pinpointing a fusion of the two orientations, awarenesses, and interests.

Academic writers delve into the popular press and rely upon certain academic strategies, and there are popular press writers who emerge from academia. Each publication can be considered to have a certain amount of benefit to the writer. The problem with any kind of specialist writing and trade press orientation is that there tends to be a finite pool of sources and contacts and the threat of a falling out over critical writing is possible; on the other hand, by not having strong background knowledge of the subject, the distance from the specialism can be as equally problematic.

As a writer, what else can I get besides one publication? Journalistic angles— in which one topic can result in multiple publications— is one route. So, for example, Webb wrote three articles which centre on the Mondrian hotel in Interior Design (March 1997), Hospitality Design (March-April 1997), and Metropolis (April 1997). Another strategy is to approach the subject at a later date, to cut down on the initial background preparation— comparable to what academics do as opposed to constantly starting up new research and writing tasks. For Lucie Young, this strategy includes writing a Starck-Schrager piece which discusses the collaboration and the Delano hotel in FX (December 1995 / January 1996) and she follows up with an announcement of the Delano’s new beach village in New York Times (10 December 1998); for Conway Lloyd Morgan, who is the former general editor of the International Design Yearbook 1997 with Starck as editor, and now author of the anticipated Philippe Starck book (1999), he has also published articles such as "Starck naked" in Design Week (14 March 1997). Fay Sweet, author of Subverchic Design (1998), includes several Starckian articles to her credit. While I am not suggesting that there is compromise, the benefits of being on good terms with designers and their diaspora are self-evident, as with any other activity in life. Further, Starck, and Schrager, are not just opportunities for design publications, they are also a potential access into the "in-crowd" and its reported populist media connections. Writing about Starck, and Schrager, not only provides design material, but potentially access to lifestyle, fun, and theatricality— all of the things promoted about the designs and the hotel environments. So, one critical discourse awareness raising question is the writer’s relationship to the subject and information providers; another concerns the dynamic of the writer’s relationship to the publication genre.

Sources and Sociology

Where do writers on the published writings get their sources for their articles and these books? A conceptual totality of sources was discussed in the subject matter totality section and includes press releases, interviews, confirmations and clarifications, onsite and light research. For flowing, editorial-like sentences and articles, the writer may do more than describe, but might interpret, commend, or scold. Further, the sources can include those used by historians in attempts to reconstruct that time period, described by Conway and Roenisch (1994) and Conway (1987) in the subject totality section. With the strong visual emphasis upon a design, the visual material can be very important, and is subjected to the limitations described in the copyright law section.

According to Fairclough (p. 49-50), citing Tuchman (1978) [and then Scannell (1992)], "one striking feature of news production is the overwhelming reliance of journalists on a tightly delimited set of official and otherwise legitimized sources which are systematically drawn upon..." "The result is a predominantly establishment view of the world, manifested textually in, for instance, ways in which the reporting of speech is treated." According to Fairclough (ibid), Herman and Chomsky (1988) "suggest that where there is controversy, it is predominantly because there are divisions within the establishment... can partly be attributed to the ways in which the media are economically embedded in and dependent upon the status quo in terms of ownership and profitability… and the dependence of journalists upon their sources constitutes an inbuilt limitation on their campaigning zeal", which leads into Fairclough’s discussions of Language and Power (1989). Within an artwriting context, Carrier (1987, 1994), using strategies of assessing the writings through argumentation, finds that the establishment consensus has agreed to disagree on certain points than others.

Within the publishing writings centering on the Delano, the sources include quotes by Starck (including: Wilson in USA Today, 30 November 1998; MacInnes in World Architecture, November 1996; Young in FX, December 1995; Lloyd Morgan in Design Week, 14 March 1997); Schrager (including: Ward in Atlanta Constitution, 14 August 1994; Wilson in USA Today, 30 November 1998; Young in New York Times, 10 December 1998; MacInnes in World Architecture, November 1996; Young in FX, December 1995; Rothstein in Graphis, September/October 1997); and Anda Andrei, director of design for Ian Schrager Hotels (including: Ward in Atlanta Constitution, 14 August 1994; Young in New York Times, 10 December 1998) which may be "authentic" or via a press officer or from the press kit, and the visual experience of the writer and their interaction with the press photographs. Surprisingly, only one article, Mays in Historic Preservation (May/June 1996) speaks to the Miami Design Preservation League in an article raising the contentious topic of Starck-Schrager ripping out the historical lobby interior and the preservation issues; their office is literally within walking distance of the hotel (See later "The Design Process" section in Chapter V for more details). Occasionally, "Ordinary people, including rank-and-file members of organizations, feature as offering typification of reaction to the news, but not as news sources— as Scannell (1992) puts it, they are entitled to their experiences but not their opinions" (Fairclough, 1995: 49). So, in Russell in Graphis (January / February 1996: 32), we see the following: "To Miami residents, the Delano is... "the sexiest hotel in the world" (developer Ed Gadinsky)... "the most exciting place in Miami" (children’s clothing designer Gita Chowderer)..." Meanwhile, xxx xxxx x x x xx x x x xxxxxxx x xx x x x x x x x x xxxxxxx x x x xxxxxxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx Xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx yet the New York Times will publish Philip Johnson’s overall praise of Starck’s work, yet "His juicers splatter all over the room. The tea kettle, the colander and the thermos are all equally hard to use" (Johnson and Lewis, 13 December 1998). The overall praise in the piece xxx x x x x x xxxxxxx x x xxxxxx The cumulative effect of these writings is therefore, very intention-orientated— with the power of presences-absences in that interaction— held by the intention holders, designer Philippe Starck, owner Ian Schrager, and their public relations and aligned vested interests.

This creates several problems for interpersonal, intercultural, and information frictions. If the task of gathering sources is to include interviews, then one must have access to the players or filter it through the press office. But what if a press office is to do their job of minimizing bad publicity? Designers can be too busy, press offices can institute delays and stumbling blocks, and if they have a strong sense of the writer’s task, good press officers can outduel their journalist opponents— and they have been trained to do so and are often equally trained as journalists— and better paid. Editors and writers need to be on good terms with people in order to continue the flow of some information. Throwing in these new continuums which converge over "sociocultural processes", the published surface structures become even more filled with clickables of intertextuality. Meanwhile, getting journalists and editors to speak frankly can be as problematic as designers and vested interests in design. xxxxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx

See Appendix B, Sociocultural Processes, and interviewing procedures in Clayton (1992) and Hennessy (1997). Source was not “informed” of being interviewed, and the assertions would undoubtably be lightened. xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxx xxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxx

xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx x xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxx xxx xxxxxx xxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xx xxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx xx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

Academic research is certainly not immune either, and could possibly be feeding into the problem. In the BIAD guidelines for dissertation writing, the work "must be based upon primary sources— documentary material, contemporary criticism etc. and original works of art", "establishing unknown historical facts" (1997-98: 59). So, within the context of the Delano hotel, we have interviews with the players; archival material from Starck’s office and from the hotel’s, and maybe the City of Miami Beach records; contemporary criticism with a selection of the published writings; a site visit or visits (how many of the approximately 238 rooms?). Too much of this information rests upon intention-oriented statements and potentially controlled and selected information— and the interpreters are students who may lack critical discourse awareness, and are going to be able to duel with players who are masters at the game? Further, with the celebrity of the designer, or rather the cult, how are students going to maintain objectivity of their source, whom they may like, whom they may see as godlike, and the other interpersonal and sociological factors with someone or some system that they may wish to belong? And what presences and absences are in these texts, and how truthful are these absences?

2. How are texts of this sort produced, and in what ways are they likely to be interpreted and used?

Production

For Fairclough (1995b: 203-4), media text production is "not a simple and transparent representation of the world, but the outcome of specific professional practices and techniques, which could be and can be quite different with quite different results." For Bhatia (1993), under "Refining the situational/contextual analysis", production would be included in "defining the speaker/writer of the text... their relationships and their goals", "identifying the network of surrounding texts..", and "identifying the topic / subject / extra-textual reality which the text is trying to represent, change or use and the relationship of the text to that reality" (p. 23). For Swales (1990), it connects to task and discourse community. For Walker, it consists of the decision-making process scoped out by the "varieties of design history" (1989: 99-152)— which is more visually apparent for academic journal articles, yet surfaces within assertions— be them a sentence or paragraph— in trade press articles and the overall shaping in the variety of newspaper genres— depending on the various positions of the writers. An example of this would be when an academic writes for the popular press; do they delete and deconstruct the decisions made in comparison to their academic work? While they may write to the genre surface structure, the intertextual reality is that there is more underneath the surface.

Production assessment and procedures lead to intertextual discussions (which goes into more detail in the next section). Fairclough (p. 48), scaffolding his claims on other studies, specifically for newspapers, describes a collective process and talks about how an eight-person newspaper staff may go through eight versions of an article from writer to publication, and that the intertextual reality is that "since a high proportion of source material is made up of news items already produced by news agencies", there is another dimension. Journalists for newspapers write news reports which can be cut from the bottom, and therefore, that is how the paragraphs are shaped. With regard to presences or absences, we never know how long a piece was, when submitted and what was excluded.

Meanwhile, magazines give what I believe are more flexible word counts; in my experience with the trade press, an art review can be "500-700 words", "around 400", or "400" which means 400 exactly. So, the texts can be rigid with the number of words, and the writer must go through a process of building up and potentially cutting down, deleting repetition, and rephrasing. (See Hennessy, 1997, for procedures). Further, as repeated words are essentially taboo— taking into account the interplay between the content and the publication readability of the text— meanings can slightly be affected; as source material, this needs to be considered as it can slightly affect meaning. Further, academic material is affected in the production process in terms of writer guidelines, review procedures, and editorial— although at the sentence and paragraph level, there seems to be more emphasis upon content over form in comparison.

The implications for the published writings on Starck regarding production issues is that production is an issue. While this uncertainty makes the researcher’s job more difficult, it reflects production realities, and it accounts for the differences between Waller’s submission and publication; and the potential negotiation of a variety of published material. It potentially accounts for factual errors, insertions / deletions / negotiations of positive and negative criticism; and makes Walker’s brief outline of levels of discourse (1989: 14-16) more contextualized and more problematic. Public relations material can also be assumed to undergo these processes, with various approval, examination, and reconsideration stages, and a publication is not just dealing with producing texts, but also advertising revenue.

Text Consumption

Regarding the use of the texts, Fairclough (p. 204) states the "important issues are the diversity of practices of reading, listening, and viewing (and their social conditions), and the potential for divergent interpretations and use of any given text by different sections of a readership or audience." The interactivity between the text and its viewers is crossed along several continuums, which for the published writings, is significant. The consumer of text is also addressed with the genre analysis-centered approaches of Bhatia (p. 23), under "refining the situational/contextual analysis", "defining the speaker/writer of the text, the audience, their relationships and goals" and Swales’ discourse community (p. 24-7). Who are the readers of the published writings on the Delano? Given the wide variety of newspapers and magazines, it depends upon the publications readership, which is usually available in a described, yet promotional and idealized form, to those who request information concerning advertising in the publication.

The consumer of text can also be an intertextualized participant; for example, Russell in Graphis (1996) quotes art historian Jewel Stern referring to the Delano as "A European palace and garden" and publicist Joan Spector’s soundbite assessment: "like a Fellini movie". As one continuum, the use of the text is multi-dimensional for the writings on the Delano. For Starck and Schrager, they function as an addition to the avalanche of mentions and profiles to their impressive collection of press clippings. They and their interests may selectively use them as textual realities for other writers, or in the case of The Exec, include them in their press kits. The writer of the piece gets a press clipping which documents their work. For publications, the "use" of the text somehow interplays with their sociological dynamics of readership-publisher-editorial-writer-advertiser. For writers, they can provide information about previous angles, what’s been discussed, details, reactions, etc. For advertisers, their ads are "texts" alongside "news", and as described earlier, inclusion of public relations material inside "news" is part of their job objectives. For students and academics, they provide today’s secondary information which will be the primary information of the future. Further, the shelf life of the text needs to be considered, where, for example, the news sections of newspapers on the one hand are intended to be disposable on a daily basis, yet are indexed and can be referred to afterwards in history. While the shelf life, or consumption, addresses the publication’s primary market, the effects of the publication lingers to academic usage.

Problematically, the general visual arts academic orientation towards trade press articles needs to be reconsidered, and while BIAD’s PgDip/MA course booklet asserts, "In the areas of Art, Architecture, Crafts and Design, the Art Index, the Humanities Index, and RILA are the most useful periodical biographic publications" (p. 64-5). First, the Avery Index, the Architectural Periodicals Index, and the design and applied art index need to be added to flesh out trade publications across the suggested interior design sphere. Within a Delano hotel context, the newspaper, lifestyle, general and business publication indices also need to be included (see Appendix A: Details of Comprehensive Search Procedures) in order to find out more contextual information from publications that are perhaps more straight journalism-oriented, are distanced from the trade press publishing dynamics, and are more financially able to run the risk of writing more contentious material.

Table of contents | The Problematic Discourse on "Philippe Starck’s" Delano Hotel (1999) - Focus on form: Writings