The true origin of any one thing that we might make is beyond the ken of our conscious mind. I say this because the roots of an idea or design lie deep in the unconscious – even as we sit down with a client to develop a design that aims to respond to a number of discrete practical and aesthetic challenges, both of us are using minds conditioned by a lifetime’s exposure to the subtle languaging of things. From birth we are building increasingly sophisticated layers of neurological patterning that allow us to discriminate – to make good choices.
This is really an attempt to begin to articulate some of the subtlety of the interaction that exists between client and maker, and how when you look at it, the boundary begins to blur. The design process evolves in response to the needs and the aesthetic that arise when two individuals make an agreement to commission and make something. You could say that the sum total of all their experiences of form are present at that meeting like invisible constituents.
Having said all this, in the workshop the whole thing comes back to ‘muck and dust’ – its only timber, and I’m only human, but I really do enjoy the relational aspect of the work – it’s what makes it real in my view. We can design ranges of furniture for legions of invisible consumers, bankroll the R&D, and start firing out sofas from factories at extraordinary speeds. Then the whole advertising machine must grind into action peppering billboards and airwaves with strangely contortioned hyper-real faces and sentences and so on.
But its got a bit dull hasn’t it? The thrill of a beautiful new thing that looks impossibly modern… I heard someone say only the other day that the more a thing is replicated, the shorter the period of earth-time it actually exists for… The example was that for an Ikea retrospective exhibition not so long back, the centrepiece was to be one of the original sofas made only 25 or so years ago…. Unfortunately, no-one’s been able to find one because either they all fell apart, or they got scrapped to landfill because they were so cheap nobody gave a damn…
Ikea certainly didn’t have one in stock. So here’s a picture of the piece Karl and I have been slaving over all this time. And there’s only going to be 2… or maybe 4 if my elbows can take it. And if you have to get rid of it, please just burn it.