Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2014

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, College of Art

Author's Department/Program

Art (Sculpture)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)


The following thesis examines the work of Ambika Subramaniam, in particular her thesis installation Ergonomically Designing Art Objects, for the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture at Washington University in St. Louis. Based within a discussion of semiotics, the thesis researches furniture signification and tracks its evolution through traditional form, ergonomic function, and consumed product. Major points include the ways in which objects are capable of collapsing and retaining the semiotic divide between a sign and referent, and how that signification relates to contemporary design-oriented products. Using the chair as the exemplifying object, the thesis installation questions how objects have lost their signifying properties due to increased consumerism, and how a study of a chair’s semiotic nature has the potential to change that lost signification (either through retention or separation). She combines research in ergonomic design, philosophy, and object making into a critical study of human engagement. This thesis draws mainly upon the critical theories of Ferdinand de Saussure and Jean Baudrillard, as well as the artist Joseph Kosuth, designers Yvonne Fehling and Jennie Peiz, and Al Que Quiere design firm.


English (en)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Lisa Bulawsky/Capstone

Advisor/Committee Chair's Department

Jen Schmidt/Capstone

Second Advisor

Joan Hall

Second Advisor's Department


Third Advisor

Noah Kirby

Third Advisor's Department