THE ART OF MAKING
OF MAKING ©
The art of making encompasses one prerogative, and that is to reconcile the artists mind with whatever he or she is making. There are really only: very few answers in executing a product, to make it the best for a society ordained in styles and fashions. However there are many methods, to achieve that final aim, for which we are seeking out beyond all other answers; and therefore in fact a thousand solutions to the same prerogative. What is a key, in this pluralistic age, is to discover what one is designing is always deemed the only and resolute answer to the given challenge by the pen of the artist. What we have to try to achieve is an addition to the continuum of history though and to simultaneously break the mould. This may mean taking the influence of images, literature, culture and society as a globe. We are educated by history, to know what works, but we know as inventors there is always room for originality.
We can both sit on the fence and at the same time repeat ourselves, beyond the point of a ‘Warholian’ repetition to affirm good design, and constantly compromise; or we can go on continuing to invent with a bright future. When one approaches the drawing board, one seeks to reconcile one’s mind with the external world. My premise for this book is to use the key: reconciliation, as the achievement of our visual aims, not to act in compromise to appease those around one. Architecture and life derives from the primitive hut, which later took hold by stonemasons. We are not becoming more primitive in our approach, but in terms of the resulting logic, deemed simple from a whole host of given complexities. The conciliation of design means we use our locality as a reference point, but the new universal style to guide us as designers. A good way to think about this is through a whole object. Solid and void sit harmoniously together, but one as observer is aware of the whole from which it came, instinctively, whilst appreciating the natural form of what remains.
Reconciliation is the mind, and should be a concept only of the mind, whereby one could argue mind equals matter, over Descartes dualism that mind and matter are separate. The matter, the final product is a product of the mind, where design becomes a part of our minds. What is missing is our visual reference from what exists, and therefore it is not just the mind, but the mind’s experiences and memory. If we relinquish our minds from the fast streams of everyday information highways, we begin to think of a more ephemeral idea. Once colluded to an affirmation of high esteem through the human attention to clarity, and once relaxed only then do we aspire to the goal of a decent inner vision, allowing the holistic vision of all fragments? Those of culture, society, buyer identity, cost, construction technique, style, and detail achieve a wider more profound statement. Reconciliation is really what we are doing, but not in the context of the outside, but the inner human vision; the requisite unrequited love of self and others, world, politics, and social aims.
We are all bound to good design. Reconciliation invites us to think of the whole, and to see each element as a part of that whole. We begin with our purity in form. A mass filling the void, and we begin to carve it up into space according to where the eye follows or sun lies. We must think in terms of three dimensions, and carve up space to overlap, concede, and split, making allowances for light, air and space. Reconciliation is really a form of logic, like Lego. Lego works very well, but you have all these circles on the top, giving an undulating surface to the finished product, the construction becomes a finished article, much like a tensile structure, or Structuralism. You can in fact finish your Lego model with a smooth surface, if clever enough, giving your bible cup the finish it needs. Lego is a clever device to demonstrate an idea. It tells us something more than initially meets the eye. Because it is made in standardised parts, the result has a likeable character of its own, almost timeless. From that standardisation it allows for a multiplicity of outcomes, yet every Lego model looks similar.
Lego is very environmentally friendly as plastic is a given man-made polymer that can easily be recycled. However is the bespoke solution to design the environmental answer? It may be in terms of materiality, but again it comes down to what is suited to the job, and so it calls for the artist’s vision in the art of making. The standardised solution appeals to a mass market, but just as we all like our one-offs whether that is shopping and purchases, holidays, unique ways of living or anything regarding our status and identity to stand out from what is overly mass produced. In both instances Reason allows us justification of the given outcome, and where there is a market, unfortunately there will always be a pyramid of making for accessibility of a given product. We tend to find though that the bespoke object, building or artwork is made to a higher standard than any other similar product, so how can we bring skill level into the mass market. Not even machine can turn over a good product on a mass level at a given cost, and that is the second key.
The first key was the designer’s interpretation as the only given answer, and the second key is that machine cannot build as well as man, because man invented the machine. The significance of these two ideas is cost. The artful designer may know something of cost before setting out with the pen and therefore will be able to append cost to give a practical solution, however in doing so have they diluted what would be the single and only answer that the designer could see to the problem? We must start realising that really the first answer to a project is the only answer, and therefore money goes on dictating our level of skill applied and final outcome to the point that we look around us and ask ourselves was it really worth it? If not how can we improve on the outcome of our initial aim, and must we accept a continued plurality caused by cost, not necessarily skill? If skill were questionable, then we must reduce everything to basics to get a better understanding of what it is we are trying to achieve. The essentials that may allow us a world dictated by money but ordained in good design.
We are left with necessity and embellishment, what was once Ornament. Necessity drives most mass produced products and embellishment drives the bespoke clock. What is missing is what all design really aims for, both necessity and to expatiate a given project aim; to leave the mind’s signature. We are aware of the major fashion houses producing haute couture to the ends of necessity other than to be naked (or in some instances the provocation of a part bare body) fuelled by a typology created by their very own custom. Like the jig of an element in furniture making, their repetition of a style of fabric, detail, or just a name makes theirs a ‘must have’ item. Not only because the cost is significantly high but because they are well made products that should last given reasonable care. Therefore quality comes at a high price, but that is not only the fault of the making, predominantly today it is dictated by the style guides of the market, and so some can charge ridiculous costs for something that does not equate to the design, material, manufacture and profit.
If we were to discuss necessity further we must realise that what comes into play when a product try’s to access a larger or the mass markets is that it must appease a relative higher number of external influences, in its reconciliation; health and safety in children’s toys and clothes, mass production capabilities in kitchen appliances, and planning law, locality and context in architecture. Therefore necessity brings with it a move away from the direct single transaction of pen on paper and that hum of the initial thought, to a more timed approach through constant tweaking and changes. The zig-zag method by far outweighs commercial design in value engineering and in our esteemed approach to try different methods of finding the ideal solution when there are so many constraints in today’s hyper volute society. But that is not to say we are not starting to see a cross-over of tried bespoke passages of design and singular momentary eureka solutions to commercial premises.
The ingredients to make a good design today begin with material and technology. From the sketch and the bid idea to the final manufacturing or making of the finished product, there are technologies involved and even user technology in the product. Therefore we do rely on a great deal of machines whether bespoke projects or not for precision of a craft. The next key is the environment, and how it is manipulated by designers. Today we give back and now we are starting to see a revolution in design and manufacture of our products through cradle to cradle processes, giving Reason to our aims. The future of design is based in extremes: of over-population, climate change and poor levels of resources, this will mean they will dictate over cost as to how we deal with the future of design in today’s world. These designs generally have a desirable aesthetic not of style but of necessity. It looks like that because that is how it works. It may be deemed Orwellian to the proletariat or rich ordained in equal measure with plastic and gold.
Devolution brings a return to pre-industrialised modern living. Now we have in the age of remedy a reason to be original. Originality is what makes a product unique and this allows for a complex mind to reach a simple solution to a product that does not exist yet, product development, or an original interpretation, as in architecture; of an individual site and location by which the brief is set in a societal and cultural framework. Originality means there is an ideal at large, but not necessarily from necessity. An ideal is never tied down by practicality until its manufacture, and our human capabilities. Therefore will we ever live in a world of ideals? Or must we accept that Pandora’s Box contains a forbidden fruit best left uneaten. To look at America, we find nearly all the forbidden fruits have been eaten, one of the youngest democracies in the world today, so what is the cost? Depression, obesity and addiction are to name a few. Mental health almost parallels the environment and so we must collude to return to mother Earth however cool that can be?
The beauty of the ephemeral is it is nearly always made by hand. However how does the ephemeral affect the standardisation of machine made parts? While every view in nature holds a new light on every changing millionth of a second, we can only replicate the repetitive homogeneity and structures of nature in our own man-made designs. The last key is ethics. The keys are as follows: reconciliation, machine, environment, and ethics. Ethics allows us change and with devolution the chance to get back to the craft of man. There are a number of niche designers across the world, and as we continually push the boundaries in our manufacturing and construction techniques we are beginning to see a universal style of growth towards the man-made, unique, ephemeral quality of an earthly product passing longevity. In the age of remedy the more time taken to perfect the product the better, but we must still work within reasonable limits, and so we reconcile both inner and outer visions.