austere authenticity and fingertip-knowhow

13Sep11
Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut de Ronchamp

Ronchamp-Corbusier

Basic functional forms combined with sheer handicraft seem to be the top runner, not only for architects, but also fashion, retail and other designed items. Back to basics is something the modernist painters also had in mind when they tried to capture the bare essence of art (a madonna with child could be stripped to a triangle). An essential component of this new modest-luxury is skill. Skilled professionals working together to achieve innovative solutions by mixing and combining traditional handicraft with science. The common denominator seems to be a renewed interest in knowledge or better “the knowhow of people”. Not the “i can google-knowledge” but the “in your fingertips knowledge”. The knowing of knowledge seems to gain respect and might be the essential element to be and stay innovative and original. Since you never can know all about everything, focus is necessary together with a passion for detail. To more tiny your object of interest is, the sooner you can become an expert.  You can spread your expertise by applying and combining it with other practices. Experimenting with the use of your discipline helps you to keep an open attitude and will open up new markets. Les Ateliers de la Maille mixes soya with cashmere and labels it ‘nature-a-porter’. G-star mixes original cotton with nettle. The Tilburg Textile Museum has an exhibition about the relation between use and used fabrics and shows visitors how to evaluatie the quality of textile by looking at the fabric, yarns and the technique used to construct a piece. certified organicCosmetics is all about pure ingredients and their salutary effects. To grow specific herbaceous borders is no longer a strange hobby, even florists create beneficial bouquet of flowers. Like in the book by Vanessa Diffenbaugh about the Victorian language of flowers.

special interest outlives style

The Bauhaus movement no longer exists. It was decimated under the Third Reich. Its principles of design, however, live on—but they are becoming more and more diluted with the passage of time. Now that even third-rate furniture supermarkets offer lamps and end tables “in Bauhaus style,” there is every reason to be concerned about the fate of the Bauhaus. In contrast to the Bauhaus, the Deutscher Werkbund coalition, founded in 1907, was never a school, but rather a kind of special interest group. And what’s more, the Werkbund continues to exist. Whereas the Bauhaus sought to develop and establish a particular style, the Werkbund already in its early years fought for the implementation of modern modes of production in order to (a) make quality goods more affordable and (b) develop innovative designs that extend the lifetime of the products and liberate them from the dictates of fashion and fleeting tastes.

That industrial products should are well-designed, even to the extent that they are considered worthy of being put on display in museums, is due in large part to the impact of the Deutscher Werkbund, one of the most important and most influential institutions of the 20th century. Yet, at the same time, surprisingly few actually know about the Werkbund. Perhaps this is because its demands for “good form” and durably constructed products made affordable for the general consumer have come to be taken for granted. The Deutscher Werkbund has always striven and continues to strive for improvement in the quality of all industrially-produced items. In so doing, they seek to realize “harmonious culture,” founded on the concept of a comprehensively crafted Gesamtkunstwerk. Both artisan handicraft and mechanical production have their place and should each be utilized in those areas where they are most advantageous.

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One Response to “austere authenticity and fingertip-knowhow”

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