We Have Always Been Modern(ist): Temporality and the Organisational Management of ‘Iimeless’ Iconic Chairs

Marta Gasparin*, Daniel Neyland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In organisation studies, objects have been analysed as actors that enable sense to be made of organisational reality. We expand on this literature by exploring the times of the modernist design firm through its iconic chairs, using archival and contemporary ethnography to study timeless design. We suggest that studies of organisational times that focus on selectivity in organisational memory or history can be augmented through a detailed study of the folding of pasts, presents and futures into objects. Furthermore, we advocate for the treatment of objects as material semiotic actors that participate in the construction of organisational times, with iconic chairs acting as disruptors of otherwise linear organisational times. As material semiotic actors, these objects do not enable a single organisational time, but instead participate in disrupting time, deny any possibility of a pure and linear form of time, continuing to provoke the organisation and its members.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)354-373
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Design
  • Neo materialism
  • Organisation theory
  • Prototype
  • Science technology studies
  • Temporalities
  • Timeless

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