Friday, April 20, 2007

off the cuff

If you've been paying attention to the links at the right, you might have noticed I've been looking at more product and industrial design news lately. I've had to swallow some of my architect-inferiority-complex-disguised-as-pride, but the more product-like nature of my work as of late has forced me into an eye-to-eye relationship, a very rewarding one that makes me need to examine why I've avoided this particular fiefdom of design for so long.

It's partially, of course, the collective pressure of the Dwell/DWR/Apple Store world that bounces off my naturally reactionary psyche. And I'm sure if I went deep enough I'd find some moralizing against conspicuous consumption. But I think the real reason I avoided looking at designs smaller than a house (or at least a taco truck) until recently was a (mis)perceived lack of depth-- I was always looking for the "real" innovation behind the scenes. I couldn't be convinced that something that was purchasable immediately and in mass quantities could be pushing the boundaries of possibility in any way. To put it simply (and kind of offensively), it didn't look difficult enough. This is condescension born of ignorance, I know. It took a gradual shift in a very stereotypical path - from furniture to lamps down into silverware - for me to realize that there are direct analogs that I was willfully ignoring. In some of these things there may be a lack of physical assemblage, but there is perhaps a greater mental assemblage, or at least a denser one-- more considerations, from ergonomics to copyrights, per cubic inch than in anything else in the world.

This is what makes these things suddenly so appealing -- to realize that they were forged, as it were, under intense mental pressures that extrude a unique object of ineffable value.

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