“Each one of us has, somewhere in his heart, the dream to make a living world, a universe.” —Christopher Alexander One must encourage some level of enchantment to invite the supernatural. When nymphs dance, we picture them in idyllic settings, like forests and groves, or carousing in an orchard just before dawn. Perhaps the fruit from trees and vines that we find on the ground in the morning is their doing, after all.
> Spatially, the minimalist and glossy-modernist trends have the unfortunate habit of moving toward a void. Maximizing for space leads to a lack of spaces.
I think that's the spirit that drives it. A spirit influenced by gnosticism (even if it doesn't know it): the body and the material world is bad, the spirit is everything. So the best space, becomes no space: the virtual space of the internet, for example. Meta, indeed.
Simon, your writing is profound and I am grateful to have stumbled upon it a while back. Best, AJ
Beautiful sentiment here. I especially like this observation:
>There has been a centuries-long trend towards visually flat and formulaic environments. The modern kitchen, with its leagues of uniform cabinets and counters, resembles a laboratory more than a hearth.
As you discuss in your other work, it's fascinating how much this aesthetic trend has been paralleled by an intellectual trend. We've become more utilitarian, sparse, and *useful* in how we build our environments just as many of our mental lives have lost the flavor and character of poetry, religion, or dance.
What's worse is that it seems those in power are the ones who have the least care for this type of human experience that's being lost. As you've mentioned in another thread, software engineers and engineers in general seem to not care for fiction or farce, despite these genres providing what we humans need on a spiritual level. Man does not live by bread alone.
Thank you for keeping the flame of the gods lit in your writing. It's an inspiration.
This comes in handy as a reminder to myself, as I am about to renovate my apartment and kitchen. Thank you for reminding me that I do not want a souless warehouse space, but to feel, see and touch the cosy warmth of the real as it ages. Perhaps I should not renovate, after all :-D
Lovely piece, as always. I look forward to reading your works whenever they pop up.
I have been working to combat one specific aspect of this flat environment you observe, with light & shadows. My wife and I have observed just how much can be done by candlelight, how unnecessary most of the massive output of modern lights are, how disruptive in the night. We are hoping to have some sconces done to utilize natural light even more, an idea I got from you as well. Thanks for sharing!
"There has been a centuries-long trend towards visually flat and formulaic environments". I have read that the increase in myopia is caused by spending more time indoors from a young age, where the eyes can only rest on so many flat surfaces, lacking depth and detail and natural light. This is especially the case in Asian countries with high rates of myopia and apartment living. Maybe modern design is helping to literally turn us blind.
Sterile, versus lived-in.
A new, stiff book, versus a used, creased, highlighted one.
A new pristine quad, versus one with walking trails on the grass.
A tight, perfectly shaped leather shoe, versus one that has taken the shape of your feet.
A striking smell of soap, shampoo and deodorant, versus the subtle fragrance of skin and pheromones.
An instagram model, versus a classical beauty.
There are no rectangles in Nature. Then why is it that everywhere I look, all I see is rectangles?
Sterile, manufactured, engineered, rigid, top-down, dead; versus
Organic, wild-growing, evolved, yielding, bottom-up, alive.
Beautiful piece! In the US, where I live, most kitchens look like the photograph. People aspire to have that type of kitchen. But, I agree that a less professional-looking kitchen with imperfections creates coziness and hominess. Great food for thought. Thanks for your post!
A delightful read Simon, love that you added your own kitchen as an example as well.
Congrats on your writing, Simon!
Always a delight to read. What strikes me on the RE advert that it even forces a kind of "classical" design palette of details on the door frames, furniture details, it's not completely minimalist.
But it still falls flat due to the lifeless, spaceless and professional composition.
This is a very interesting reading. Love the way you describe every detail. I also admire the way useful things deteriorate and with little effort you bring them back to life. Things are made to be used. Dont discard things because of little blemishes.