Have you ever noticed how some designers identify a problem and tackle it head on, wrestling it until it yields an answer? Until another, yet smarter device is born. While others create things after absorbing the consensus of feeling and their idea unfolds as silently as a flower? And another domestic comfort sees the light of day. Both have their place and worth. But has the balance tipped too far?
Arts & Crafts
During the Arts and Crafts era everything from domestic utensils to machines in factories was embellished with ornamentation to hide what was considered the vulgarity of their true purpose. It is quite clear that every craftsman and industrialist of the time knew this was a way to convey to the public that the object had been designed with great care and intelligence. So they embellished and ornamented as though their lives depended on it.
Modernism later stripped away all forms of ornamentation, exposing the perceived vulgarity in all its wonderment, championing functionality above all else. Believing a chair was an object to sit on and need not do more than fulfil that noble purpose. Objects were pared to their bare essentials and the idea of using no more material than was absolutely necessary abounded. A school of thought more recently readopted by the cradle-to-cradle brigade. So they defrocked and revealed the fundamentals of ordinary objects to embellish the lives of the people who had depended on ornamentation.
Both these eras have a charm that is perhaps best explained in their absolute conviction that they had discovered the truth about beauty. This was not naivety. It was a truth about how we should live. These times had a distinct advantage over ours today, due to a lack of competition from other distractions they enjoyed the full attention of the public, an audience focused on domestic bliss.
In our digital age the magical creations of virtual reality and the mapping out of human behavior, right down to what you and I are likely to buy if it does indeed rain tomorrow, quickly steal the limelight. Understandably so, it is difficult not to be intrigued. Masses of people are no longer able to look around when out and about. Transfixed by their smart phones, to which they pay homage, as they know them better than they know themselves, they wait for the next likeable prompt.
Yet all around us things are being imagined, designed and created that enrich our domestic lives without demanding our undivided attention. So designers and artisans, to cradle and comfort us, to redress the balance of technology, to befuddle the logarithm, are embellishing and ornamenting our actual reality, out-smarting devices as though our lives depended on it. Can they bring us out of the digital haze? Before our true realities become extinct?
Past realities, can guide our futures.