Page last updated at 09:43 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

What are the iconic objects of the decade?

Graphic of objects

As we enter the last few weeks of the 2000s, the Magazine is asking readers to tell the story of the last 10 years, based on five themes. Social commentator Peter York picks some iconic objects from the decade.

News stories tend to stick in the memory, but do they tell us as much about an era as the things - the tangible objects - that caught our imagination and sold like crazy?

Events don't arise out of our collective sub-conscious in a way that things we buy or commit to or work with do.

Portrait of the Decade logo
We want readers to help us to create a portrait of the decade
Each day this week we focus on a different theme - words , people , news stories , objects and culture
Readers can make their suggestions using the form below
Try to be original
It is not a vote - an expert will pick 20 in each category
The final 100 things about the Noughties will be revealed on Monday, 14 December
An artist will illustrate them on a colour poster for readers

The Noughties was a period of such conspicuous consumption that it dwarfed the 1980s. Nothing expressed this wealth quite like the women's "It Bags", which were large, expensive and shouted "Look at me!" And the bonus for many women was that they didn't need to be young and thin to carry one off. Just capable of passing the plastic.

Another example of this display culture appeared in our living rooms, where giant, flat-screen televisions became ubiquitous. Suddenly the television didn't just inform and represent the world, it became the centre of our world, at least at home.

New technology is important because over the last decade it's produced the objects that are the most lusted after and the most symbolic.

The iPod and iPhone reflect the way people were defined by their degree of Appleness.

They were originally freelancers working in design-related businesses, although the "roll-out" that Apple products offer now means that early definition has been rendered meaningless.

This was also an era when people wanted a "design" statement look for their homes, even if that meant sacrificing practicality. Nothing epitomised that as much as the bowl basin, which often overflowed and splashed water everywhere.


The contributions are now closed

We will publish a list of 20 of your objects of the decade on Monday

But an object doesn't become iconic just through high design. The humble recycling bin has become a routine part of domestic life for millions of people.

And what symbolises the consumption of the Noughties as well as the new credit cards, upon which people racked up huge debts?

This was the decade in which coffee shops popped up on every High Street, and people clutching cappuccinos in disposable coffee cups became a common sight.

But was it the coffee the British fell in love with, or simply the right to little luxuries? Like Green and Blacks or Ben and Jerrys, some brands benefited from people's sense of entitlement for "Be good to yourself" goods.

Of course, objects come in all shapes and sizes.

Peter York
Peter York is an author, broadcaster and management consultant. He is a social commentator of trends and he popularised the term 'Sloane Ranger' in the 1980s. For 10 years he was style editor of Harpers and Queen

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge, nicknamed the "Winking Eye", and the Eden Project in Cornwall have come to symbolise the growing vibrancy of the UK's regions.

And watch any film set in London in this decade and the Gherkin, officially known as 30 St Mary Axe or the Swiss Re building, will probably pop up in the background.

The British love affair with celebrity culture was good news for magazines like Heat, but there are signs that the public appetite for unflattering pictures of TV presenters in bathing suits could be on the wane.

Skinny jeans and rectangular glasses became all the rage, while teeth suddenly got whiter, thanks to veneers that made British smiles suddenly more American-looking. In a disconcerting way.

But the strangest journey was probably that made by Arne Jacobsen's Egg chair.

It began the decade as a cutting edge Mid-Century Modern revival design before becoming one of the supporting stars of Big Brother.

And finally, it ended up in the newest generation of McDonald's restaurants.

That's what you might call an object lesson.

We have now stopped accepting your suggestions, but thanks to all who have contributed. The Portrait of the Decade will be published on Monday

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