Dirty Furniture 5
Delivered to Stack subscribers in  Sep 2021

by Heval Okcuoglu in October 2021
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Editors Anna Bates and Elizabeth Glickfeld founded Dirty Furniture to see what happens “When design leaves the showroom”, exploring the messy, unintended stuff that’s thrown up when people start actually using designed objects.

As they note in their introduction, when they started work on this issue there was widespread concern about phone addiction and the need for ‘digital wellness’, and then the pandemic hit. “Suddenly these maligned objects became our lifelines. While many aspects of life passed through our phones previously, now absolutely everything did. How then could we distil the meaning of the phone into a magazine?”. Their response considers the telephone technologically, politically, socially and spiritually, selecting stories that illuminate their subject from many perspectives.

Anna Bates and Elizabeth Glickfeld.

Job title
Founders and editors.

What is Dirty Furniture?
Dirty Furniture is a different kind of design magazine. Each issue takes the theme of a piece of furniture and uses it as a launch pad to discuss topics ranging from psychology, sex and history to manufacturing, urbanism, technology… and the plain weird.

What makes it different from the rest?
Rather than focus on creation stories we are interested in the relationship between people and the things they live with. This issue takes the phone as its theme. In it, we propose multiple ways of thinking about the phone — how we use it and how it uses us. We have essays on the role that sex workers played in the making of the internet, why we call the iPhone sexy, a pre-history of the smartphone’s features, a history of failed phones, to name a few.

Who makes Dirty Furniture?
Dirty Furniture is edited by Anna Bates and Elizabeth Glickfeld, who each have years of experience writing for prominent design magazines and teaching at design schools worldwide. This issue has been re-designed by Studio Mathias Clottu.

Who reads it?
People who are interested in design culture — from museum directors to students.

Why do you work in magazines?
Publishing these essays pushes us — each new issue surprises us and challenges how we think. It’s such a privilege to be able to do this. And as for the print factor — we still love the smell and allure of ink on a page. It’s just how we like to read.

Aside from the print magazine, what else are you involved in?
We both write, edit and teach. More recently, we’ve taken on curatorial projects and made a short film for the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial on The Cooking Show — so Dirty Furniture has become more of an approach than just a publication.

What would you change about Dirty Furniture if you could?
We end up in junk mail for being ‘Dirty’ — but we do still love our name (and we seem to get through most of the time).

Where do you see Dirty Furniture in five years?
We think it will be hard to think of design in more traditional terms after we’ve run this series. We expect our approach to writing about design will live long beyond the magazine.

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