Permanence and Transience
This conflict permeates all levels of design. Fashion in art, clothing, and architecture requires new arresting forms and themes from year to year, season to season, or week to week. And yet, the craft aspect of each of these pursuits demands longevity of the objects: Fashion designers make shoes, purses, and jackets which last much longer than the single season they are in style for. Manufacturers develop carefully controlled art materials with neutral PH, heavy gauge durability, and UV resistance in order to maintain permanence in art pieces. Architects probably have the worst time, since the long build times and huge amounts of money needed for each project often result in its style being passe even before construction is complete.
Luckily, our culture and value system does not lean entirely toward either extreme. There are still tenants who would rather have an early 1900s brownstone updated into a new apartment, than see it bulldozed to make way for something entirely new. And, we have enough open-mindedness to allow projects like The Gates to add new dimension to a very old place, like Central Park. We have this great flexibility of acceptance, and designers should use it to their advantage.
Michael Lucero is one artist who chose to examine this particular conflict. His reclamations series mixed old-style sculpture with vibrant new interpretations of heads, arms, and legs. The effect is striking, and really freaking cool (Come on, who doesn't want a teapot for a head?). Could this type of style be developed into an entirely new direction for visual design? Not retro-modern, really, but more of a retro vs modern battle within the piece.
Another interesting mix of existing infrastructure, and new functionality, is Bryan Boyer's Illyvator entry for a Domus Coffee Dispenser Contest. His concept allows an unused elevator shaft to transform the elevator foyer into a cafe. Barristas brew lattes for those people waiting for the lift, while supplies and consumables are stored in containers in the shaft above the "Illyvator"
Think about the possibilities there, not just for elevators, but for other under used rooms and spaces. Here are just a few to start you off with: What about corners of rooms -- surely there's something better than a corner shelf to fit there? Or, how about in-ground swimming pools during the winter? During the 1980s, California pools became a common target for trespassing skaters -- could there be a similar, but legitimate use for them? Even guest bedrooms are a nuisance. They are used so little, and yet, are so important when used. What other purpose could that room be really used for, and still serve as a guest room at the right times?
There are parts of cars, bus stops, street corners, porches, clothing, furniture... Damn near everything has some aspect of this constance VS change; use VS dereliction question being played out inside of it. Think of it as an entire untapped side of spaces and objects. And you're the one to tap it.
Copyright 2004-2006 Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team