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Just Notes: Design Sense
by The Kindly One

When I was a kid, I'd follow my mother around as she bought decorations for the house. I went with it, but any enthusiasm I had for it was more parroted and absorbed from her than it was genuine. I hate the whole idea of decorating. You decorate a cake or a Christmas tree. You can't "decorate" your home without turning it into a kind of dollhouse, which is exactly what a lot of people do with with their Lladro figurines and their complementary colors and furniture suits. I clearly don't think in terms of decoration, or icing the cake, if you will. I think more of design, the marriage of form and function. Good design sacrifices neither one nor the other, the best design being a conduit through which the essence of the product is both revealed and heightened. Hence, a well-designed house wouldn't require ornamentation. All sense of ornamentation or aesthetics would be addressed in the design of the house itself. Furniture would simply complement the design, as do the chairs in the Barcelona Pavilion (above). This is admittedly a very highminded concept of design and largely unachievable. Few of us can afford houses with such a specific design aesthetic. However, with the advent and continual invention of prefab houses such as the Enovo, hopefully this will become more feasible in the coming years.

I recently visited one of those overstyled stores featuring "modern" furniture and home decorations. It presented a very unwittingly American view of European furniture. Still, I liked most of its offerings, finding them spare and well-designed. My favorite was a dining sofa and table similar to this set, the difference being the store featured a proper, low-sitting dining table with its sofa. Kitchens are invariably my favorite rooms, being warm, inviting, peopled, and stocked with food. Add a TV and I'm done. Add a dining sofa and I have a place to sleep.

The store also inevitably had a collection of Taschen art and design books. Although I appreciate Taschen's philosophy - provide quality books at affordable prices - I don't like the books themselves. The writing is boring, and I don't find the books well-designed. The best is left for the cover, and the design is more reliant on current design trends than on its own voice (ironic, considering the house's design series). Instead, I prefer Vogue Paris. Every issue is a lesson in design, from the typography to the styling and editing. All the elements work together. Nothing is superfluous or haphazard.

Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion remains one of the most moving buildings I've ever visited. Despite its extreme minimalism, it is warm and serene and brilliantly designed. This is an example of great architecture, which is not a manipulation or domination of space so much as it is working and moving within it. I also appreciate that whoever took this picture titled it "Barcelona Pavilion Money Shot."

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6/10/2009 [1]

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