Sixty years ago, when people designed things, not earth shattering things, just ordinary, mundane, everyday things like switch-plate covers, or ceiling fans, or lampposts, even manhole covers and sewer-grates, they were designed with a sense of style and taste which went beyond simple purpose and function. An extra bevel here, a fluted corner there, a squiggle or geometric, maybe a curve where a straight line would have done, but added anyway just to make it look more noticeable, cooler, or whatever term was in use back then.
Whether by design or craft, things had an aesthetic value built into them. Things had to look nice, be tasteful and distinctive, like they mattered. It was important.
Even the most mundane of objects contributed style, flair, and decorum to the beauty of functional things and the joy of daily life. Many of these embellishments or adornments probably went unnoticed. Individually overlooked or taken for granted, but collectively they contributed in countless ways to what I call the “aggregate value of things.” Meaning that when scarcely noticeable small things are all added up together, they can make a huge impression and that in turn can create a time, a period, a flavour, and a mood.
Subtle contributions perhaps but profoundly influential in spite of their inconspicuous presence.
Think about it. We’ve had the Art Deco, Art Nouveaux, Gothic, and Rococo, periods to name a few.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a newly designed public bench, lamppost, or god forbid, a switch-plate or plug cover that was anything other than a cost driven design. The purpose of which was to contribute little beyond fulfilling the most basic of practical needs at the cheapest possible price to the manufacturer. No. Cheap and nasty dressed up as minimalism doesn’t ship either.
Come to think of it, when was the last time we had a design period? Maybe the 60s?
Anything that is remotely adorned or has some aesthetic thought and design invested in it. Oh? You want it to look nice, as well as turn on the lights? Ok. Well, that’ll be a bit more expensive.
So what, you ask?
Well, I guess if we all just put bit more of ourselves, our passion, our delight, and our care into the things we create and design, however humble their eventual purpose might be, we add value, we make a difference. The world seems a little more beautiful, a little less greedy and thoughtless, and for me that ships, big time.
Photo Credits: Jeff Wignal : http://www.phototipoftheday.blogspot.com/