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The Format of Taste

“Everyone has taste, it’s how you define yourself against the world,” as John Waters has said. How can we make space of the taste of others—in particular, how can we encourage the development of the tastes of our students, rather than reformatting them to match our own? And how might this require too a reformatting of what we value as educators in architectural aesthetics? For Pierre Bourdieu, “tastes are the practical affirmation of an inevitable difference […] tastes are perhaps first and foremost distastes, disgust provoked by horror or visceral intolerance of the tastes of others” (“The Aesthetic Sense as the Sense of Distinction”). How then can we not just tolerate but find value in distastes—the taste of peoples, places, and cultures that are not our own, to expand and foster complex aesthetics as diverse as our students.

A version of this paper was presented at the National Conference on the Beginning Design Student 36, in April 2021, at Texas A&M University. NCBDS is a national peer review scholarly gathering dedicated to the study and practice of beginning design education.

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