Materials: Symbols and Senses

By Vincent Gélinas-Lemaire.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Following the completion of a master’s thesis in littératures de langue française at the Université de Montréal (Materials and literatures of exhaustion), I demonstrate in this paper the need to refer to contemporary literature in order to correctly understand the symbolism of common materials in the XXIth century. François Bon, a contemporary French author, is presented as the creator of a hybrid work of lifeless geography and emotional involvement. In accord with the conclusions of my thesis, I decrypt how authors like Bon have to explore their environments thoroughly to bring their lesser components from invisibility to dominance. The analysis of materials such as concrete and iron in his books encompasses historical, social and political symbolism. The roots of the analysis go back to the texture, capabilities, usage, etc…of the materials. The goal of this paper is to lessen the gap between architecture/design and literature, between reality and fiction.

Keywords: French Literature, Materials, Symbols, François Bon, Concrete, Iron

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.29-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 971.371KB).

Vincent Gélinas-Lemaire

Graduate Student (PhD), Department of Romance Languages and Literatures (Harvard), Harvard, Cambridge, MA, USA

Vincent Gélinas-Lemaire, born January 17, 1986 in Montréal, Canada. He first studied architectural design for two years at the Université de Montréal. He acquired a certificate in creative writing at the Université du Québec à Montréal and a Master’s degree in French Literatures (U. de M.) with a thesis titled Archéologies, suivi de Constructions et déconstruction de la totalité chez Perec, Bon et Ponge. He recently began a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures (French track) at Harvard University in Massachusetts. His first interest is the study of the mechanisms and roles of space in literature. His doctoral thesis will aim to use in parallel the analytical theories of both written and built spaces to allow new readings of canonical modern and contemporary novels.


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