Touch Wood: A New Book from Professor Jonathan Ventura (Head of the Unit for History and Philosophy of Art, Design and Technology)
We are proud to introduce Touch Wood (Nine Lives Press), a new book by professor Jonathan Ventura (head of the Unit for History and Philosophy of Art, Design and Technology at Shenkar) and professor Kenneth Segal.
There is something special about wood. Its texture, heft, and color. Wood has a unique place in the world of design, especially when it comes to cultural objects.
Touch Wood presents a revolutionary approach to understanding this basic material through which human history is reflected. “After twelve years of teaching a unique course that incorporates industrial design, history, and theory, we decided to explore the concept of a cultural object by examining several selected works,” say the authors.
Though wood has helped humanity build and create objects for thousands of years, wood cultures – cultures in which wood occupies a central place in the sociocultural ethos – are relatively rare.
“We chose three of these cultures through which to explore the various aspects of wood in design: looking at Central and Western Africa, we touch on social, cultural, religious, and tribal aspects while dealing with the body, text, and relationships between humans and gods.”
The book then turns to traditional Japan, which presents a sophisticated and complex approach to woodworking culture infused with religious and philosophical meaning (Shinto, Buddhism, and Tao). The Shakers, a Protestant sect from the northeastern United States, add religious asceticism, frugality, and monastic minimalism. To these is added the Jewish-Israeli outlook, which brings in an angle of the unexpected, the amusing, the sophisticated, and the modern, giving this complex project a unique interpretation.
Discover a world of kokeshi dolls, scarring ceremonies, rain gods, meditation, and JNF boxes, all anchored in the most ancient and attractive material of them all: wood.
Professor Jonathan Ventura is a design anthropologist and researcher, the head of the Unit for History and Philosophy of Art, Design and Technology at Shenkar, a senior lecturer at the Department of Inclusive Industrial Design at Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem, and co-director of the international Social Design Network (SDN). The last book he wrote with Segal, Alternative Perceptions of Design: From Lucy to Bernini, was published by Books in the Attic (Yedioth Books) in 2019 and enjoyed great success.
Professor Kenneth Segal is an esteemed professor in the Department of Inclusive Industrial Design at Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem, a leading transportation designer, and founder and director of the PublicZone studio, which works in developing a range of design and planning solutions for various sites all over Israel. The studio was responsible for developing and designing the light rail stations in Jerusalem and many other projects, including “Mahir LaIr” and additional solutions for sites in Israel and around the world.