The title for this special issue takes its starting point from Choderlos de Laclos' novel depicting the machinations, seduction and jealousies of a mdnage a trois, a fitting analogy for the complex matrices of the affinities between design, craft and art over the last two hundred years. Drawing on our analogy, design, craft and art can be seen to occupy an unstable territory of permanently shifting allegiances, and this is true of both the histories of these three sets of practices and the three families of discourses sur- rounding them. The evolving nature of design practice on the part of some leading exponents defies categorization: the designed goods of groups such as Droog and manufacturers such as Alessi demonstrate a concern for allusive and narrative qualities beyond functionalism. The claim to art status by some craft practitioners of this century and the last is more vociferous than ever, and recent fine- art practice has increasingly looked outside the armoury of fine-art techniques to employ strategies previously considered to fall into the domain of material culture, architecture and design, and pro- cesses more traditionally associated with the crafts.
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