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Cool furniture, design objects and desiderata

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by gdl203, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    not for the era, definitely. i've never even seen mad men ... i like the combination of clean lines, harmonious structure and natural wood. for me, it was a natural progression from arts and crafts, which now seem a bit "historical".
     
  2. lefty

    lefty Senior member

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    Are we now going to have to suffer pages and pages on quasi-shit furniture like we just did about the gimmick chair that looks like it was designed by a sophomore RISD student in 1972.

    lefty
     
  3. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    I tried my best to counteract the foo.
     
  4. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    I think organic modernism (mcm) can be looked at as a fusion between the international style and the driving factor behind arts and crafts. A distilled version of that has been happening since the mid century, but on a small scale with individual artists like Nakashima, Maloof and others. Exposed Hand joinery along with solid wood surfaces and structures, but done in a simplified fashion. Nakashima even called his style Japanese shaker.

    Much of what became arts and crafts was influenced by not just English arts and crafts but also Japanese architecture, so in my opinion you have a different interpretation of organic simplified form through these craftsman born of very similar ideals and influences.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  5. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The problem, Skinny, is that your take is completely aesthetic and historical (i.e. what things look like and where they come from). It does not tangle with the intellectual basis of modernism, which is the true foundation of the movement. The goal of modernism is not so trite as to produce things with a certain sort of appearance, but to break free from tradition in order to create things that are better than what came before.

    That's why I find devotion to MCM (or any other form of modernism) to be highly suspect. After all, MCM is just a moment in time within the development of modernism. MCM designers, architects, artists, etc., would not have wanted you to religiously attach yourself to the visual aspects of what they created. Rather, they would have wanted you to always think critically about them, and move forward. MCM was a notable, paradigm-shifting development because it successfully leveraged technology to break with tradition. Well, technology has marched on. In the spirit of MCM, so too should design. When the intellectual validity is present, our sense of aesthetic merit will follow suit. Chasing after wood surfaces and "Exposed Hand joinery" entirely misses the point of the very things you love.

    Now, that's not to say it's wrong to prefer particular MCM pieces. After all, it isn't always the case that things have improved. We picked our sofa, because using our own rear-ends as guidance, no contemporary design had improved upon the Florence Knoll. Evolutions of the design often slim down the form and further lower its profile, but at the expense of functionality. In my book, that's simply not good modern design, regardless of era.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    Foo, I would like to ask the favor that you not pigeon hole me into 'MCM' as my likes vary greatly. Also, I think you confuse my appreciation of the historical aspect of this with the end result. The ideal result being a comfortable, well organized interior.

    So, if you would like to say that I appreciate the history and significance of those objects which I also enjoy living with and sitting on, then please, be my guest.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  7. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    Modernism may have attempted to divorce itself from the past, but a look into the history of the movement reveals that this is impossible and it is also the progression of a series of movements which converged to form modernism.

    Modernism as we know it would not have existed if not for the mechanical advances of the machine age, the reaction to the anonymity and soullessness it ultimately began to represent. So you have the machine age, which kick started a change in thinking, the reaction to it which was the arts and crafts movement, the distillation of that which is the international style, then a convergence of those ideas which is organic modernism.

    Artists like Nakashima are the continuation of the ideals of modernism combined with a renewed appreciation for hand craftsmanship. They seem to want to separate themselves from it by associating themselves with movements like Arts and Crafts, but have a tough time entirely divorcing themselves from modernism.

    I am not entirely certain why you view an understanding of how these things interact to be terrible, but I think if you would investigate this in more than just a self-centric surface level approach you may find an appreciation for more than the handful of abrupt pieces that you enjoy.

    Some of the most time tested and appreciated figures of modernism have found a way to embrace traditional joinery techniques with new technologies. The fact that you miss this suggests than you may want to develop a greater understanding prior to painting others into a corner.

    After which you may also have appreciation for why these things exist and why they use the materials and techniques that they use, rather then just what your butt likes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  8. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Skinny, as I pointed out, it's not a matter of whether one is attached to Bauhaus, Danish, International, or MCM, but of being attached to any of them at all. They are all segments of modernist development in design. Yet, the validity of any modernist project depends on its success in overcoming tradition. So, devotion to any particular "look" misses the point.
     
  9. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    To be accurate, modernism is not about divorcing from the past. That, as you say, is impossible. After all, new thought is always built on old thought. Any form, no matter how radical, can always be viewed as a derivation of what came before.

    More precisely, modernism is the willingness to reject old norms that no longer stand scrutiny in order to achieve better results. So, naturally, some old norms will still hold sway, even as others get taken out behind the shed.

    I really don't see how your account validates hand craftsmanship as a component of any segment of modernism. In some cases, it may be the only way to do something or the optimal way to do it--both perfectly inline with modernist thinking. In other cases, where it is used just to be appreciated for itself, it is no longer good modernism.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  10. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    How do you completely miss what is right in front of you.

    Look at what the most famous architects of the international style and organic modernism have produced and then tell me if there is an appreciation for the components of craftsmanship by those who chose to put them into use for their works.

    The floor and moldings of Haus Lange and Haus Esters are practically a billboard advertising the appreciation of craftsmanship. Which you would know if you had an idea the kind of effort involved in running the grain vertically in a molding or putting down a chevron patterned wood floor, or a pattered brick drive.

    The full breadth of the work of Mies Van Der Rohe, along with the work of his students very obviously represents and appreciation of the craftsman.

    Even Corbusier had an appreciation for the craftsman, which is easy to see in his residential work and his choice of manufacturer for his furniture. Cassina is fantastic and prior to Cassina the company that produced his furniture were slaves to craftsmanship like no other.

    An obvious appreciation exists in the works of Kahn, it exists in the works of nearly all of the most famous Danish modern architects, it exists in the work of Philip Johnson, Eames, ect.

    Look at the most famous 'modern' modular bookcase, which is Mogens Koch and there you have complicated hand joinery (a mitered dovetail) that is an integral part of why the thin wood edges can remain stable and provide the simplistic look that he was trying to achieve.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  11. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    You misunderstand.

    There is a difference between using certain forms of craft simply for tradition's sake or to appeal to existing aesthetic taste, and highlighting the craft used to create something.
     
  12. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    You've painted my ideals in very broad strokes, and I misunderstand?

    Look again.

    I was making an attempt at kick starting a discussion with my reply to foodguy's post, a more in-depth discussion than the surface level debate going on. The points he makes in his post had all of what was needed to start a more interesting discussion than; 'does this contemporary piece look good in foo's apartment'.

    In fact, take a closer look at your knoll sofa. It is only as great as it is because Florence Knoll had either an appreciation for how things are made of the ability to source a manufacturer who did. Take a look at the metal frame used on that sofa, and you'll see an appreciation for fabrication and finishing of steel. A lesser choice of manufacturer and you would see the welds, you would see through to the grain of the steel used, the chrome plating would not be done correctly and would not be the durable process that it is and would instead be a cheap finish.

    How someone who appreciates for the most superfluous details of clothing is somehow missing all of this tasty goodness just baffles me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  13. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Strokes don't get broader than yours. They are also totally running off the canvas.

    You are attempting to reduce modernism to a purely visual, historical development, when it is fundamentally an intellectual movement with visual and historical consequences. In doing so, you lose any legitimate basis for assessing contemporary modern design. Modern design (arguably any design) should be judged on modernist principles, not on its mere appearance or aesthetic relationship to other things.
     
  14. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    This is totally wrong and superficial.

    Florence Knoll's fundamental goal in designing that sofa, as reflects the thinking of her mentor, was to rationalize the sofa form--as informed by a grasp of technology and a liberated sensibility about what such a form needs and doesn't need to perform its function.

    Like Mies, Knoll didn't design her work in order to show-off nicely finished steel. Rather, steel was the best material for the job. So long as it was being used, they figured it ought to be highlighted as a thing worth appreciating.

    In short, you have it backwards. Celebrating materials and technology used is not the same as designing to show-off materials and technology.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  15. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    Please stop replacing 'appreciation' with the interest in showcasing. They are not the same thing.

    Understanding and appreciating the appropriate use of technique is not the same as showing it off. I'm pointing to their choices as being appreciation and appropriate use, not 'showcasing'. As an architect or designer how would you know to use something appropriately unless you had an understanding of the process involved? Do you need a history lesson in order to use it? No, not really, but you certainly need to know what's involved if you are going to specify it.

    Do you read anything other than what you would have liked me to have written? Your need to insult and marginalize me as a way to validate your choices is beyond ridiculous.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  16. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    How the hell have I insulted and marginalized you?
     
  17. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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  18. Find Finn

    Find Finn Senior member

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  19. otc

    otc Senior member

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    what good is the new mac pro without the insides?
     
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  20. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    And why would understanding the history of a movement eliminate me from being able to assess it? And since when does an appreciation for something impede your ability to understand successful use of it?

    Do you think it was just happenstance that architects and designers started utilizing formed steel? With no historical event or creation to influence the change?
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013

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