Shifting values: The promotional policies of craft and industrial design in Flanders (1980–2001) | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2040-4689
  • E-ISSN: 2040-4697



This article looks at the shifts in cultural promotion of craft as a result of a particular political conjuncture in the region of Flanders (Belgium). In 1991, as a consequence of Belgian federalization, the promotion policies for craft in Flanders passed from being answerable to the Belgian state to being answerable to the regional Flemish government. This political change brought about cultural consequences. Industrial design entered the promotional channels that until then had been preserved for craft, and became a dominant referent that dictated its further evolution. Before this, craft had been a site for diversity of material discourses in which the decorative, the figurative and the minimalistic coexisted. In the late 1990s however, this diversity was lost and craft offered a homogeneous sight, characterized by the minimalistic and non-figurative. This article argues that non-creative aspects turned out to be decisive in this struggle between craft and industrial design. More specifically, the fact that promotional policies of craft and industrial design became answerable to economic institutions from the Belgian federalisation onwards enhanced the importance of industrial design and reduced the relevance of craft. This research utilizes a historical politico-aesthetic perspective to analyse the relationship between political and ideological superstructure, and cultural and artistic practices to explain the changes in the aesthetic and stylistic appearance of craft.


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