When I read that a poll reflects that creationism should be taught in schools as another interpretation of man’s arrival on this planet along with evolutionary biology, I can’t help wonder whether people understood the questions of the poll properly.

Creationism is myth to explain man’s presence on this planet. There are hundreds of creation myths out there so whose creation myth should be taught? Science is science and although it is flawed and cannot reveal every step in the biological evolution of man, it is making an attempt through the scientific method to achieve such an explanation. Creationism requires faith and only faith.

I think every religionist should be happy with their own faith. That is WHAT IS INSIDE. Evidently, few religionists feel that way. They want others to share their faith.

I remember reading about a Seminole creation myth about how man came to be. The Supreme Being was making by baking the human race. His first examples were underdone, the second were overdone and the last came out perfectly. Now that is a good creation myth. Unfortunately, my group were underdone.


The controversy sparked by creationists who believe that man’s existence is dut to some intelligent design by a superior being and is not due to evolutionary biology greatly amuses me. Not being a biologist, bu being someone that looks at and evaluates design on a quotidian basis, I have only to say that the phrase, intelligent design, is an oxymoron.

Design is not intelligent. It is an attempt to create a solution to a problem. You may use intelligence to create a solution, but to say that one solution is intelligent and therefore the best or even just satisfactory, misses the point. If we had an intelligent solution to something like housing, for example, we would never alter from it. It would be an “intelligent solution”, but we don’t have it.

Designers and craftsmen that I know are never satisfied. Any designer charged with creating man would have to be concerned that a better model required just a little more tweaking. Or is that what Armageddon is designed to achieve?

 

The controversy sparked by creationists who believe that man’s existence is due to some intelligent design by a superior being and is not due to evolutionary biology greatly amuses me. Not being a biologist, but being someone that looks at and evaluates design on a quotidian basis, I have only to say that the phrase, intelligent design, is an oxymoron.

Design is not intelligent. It is an attempt to create a solution to a problem. You may use intelligence to create a solution, but to say that one solution is intelligent and therefore the best or even just satisfactory, misses the point. If we had an intelligent solution to something like housing, for example, we would never alter from it. It would be an “intelligent solution”, but we don’t have it.

Designers and craftsmen that I know are never satisfied. Any designer charged with creating man would have to be concerned that a better model required just a little more tweaking. Or is that what Armageddon is designed to achieve?


Are aesthetics part of the mission statement of a museum?

The arbitrary nature of deciding what exactly goes into a museum and then what gets displayed is the heart of this question. Certainly, historical cultural literacy is part of the agenda and has a sound reason for inclusion, but do aesthetics rate as well?

Imagine a carved fragment of a statue from ancient Greece and being overawed by the beauty, condition, craftsmanship and provenance of it. Then imagine a similar statue of lesser merit–same subject but just not as wonderful but the difference is that it is whole, not just a shard. The whole piece tells a greater story to most museum goers, but the beautiful fragment is what really sings. Which piece would you put on display?


Is this the mission of museums?

My daughter experessed dissatisfaction at seeing a lone Egyptian mummy on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum. She felt it gratuitous, non-sequential and unrelated to the overall presentation. My question to her was how do you hook people into being curious if you don’t have some random presentations? (I might add that Milwaukee has a nice English commode that is out of context in its presentation.)

What we ended up talking about is how museums could better present what they have. Historical cultural literacy has so many facets that could be included on a presentation card that it is hard to know what to leave in and what to leave out. Personally, I think museums need to work harder at teaching what they know to the people that are curious enough to want their knowledge.


I felt my deep sleep slip away in the wee hours of the morning rather like the nylon top sheet that used to slide off me with the blankets in tow when I stayed in my parents-in-law’s guest room in Sussex on what seemed like every cold and wintry night. You know what is happening but are too dozy to stop it and then…., well you are awake by then.

I often think about furniture when I am lying awake unable to get back to sleep. Not always, but last night at least. I am really fascinated by what gets people interested in antiques. I don’t see it as affectation–anything but, in fact. It can only be aesthetics. I have seen the gleam come into a client’s eye when they are looking at something and I know I have sold the object before they know they are buying it.

That inner light that yields the gleam is what interests me. Where does it come from and why does this one thing, not necessarily the only thing, make them glow?


In a discussion with a client and a shipping friend, we discussed the role of the decorator as it applies to the antiques world. My friend suggested that decorators were important in steering a client towards a style when they might not know which way to go. My response was that people who need to know a style should do some homework. In response to my remark about homework, the shipper told me about home installations where the decorator has bought and installed every last thing in the house.

I esteem the role of the decorator. It is very hard work. I have a hard enough time choosing fabric for my chairs and I only use three or four different fabrics. Decorators earn their money. However, there are people who are clearly more comfortable to let others make choices for them from art and antiques to toilet paper and cutlery. It amazes me that decorators feel capable of doing so much but it is even more amazing to me that people want someone to do so much that is so personal for them.

So much for doing homework.


The greatest thing about good rock and roll as I listen to my son’s birthday gift of the Killers album, “Hot Fuss”, is that it has gusto. It moves you. Great Kent furniture has gusto–Chippendale was less inclined that way and Hepplewhite and Sheraton are positively subdued. Henry Holland, on the other hand knew gusto and as a result, a lot of Regency furniture has it as well.

Gusto is not a word you would normally use to describe English furniture, but it is an aspect that it can have. Great English furniture has so many different qualities, none of them anthropomorphic in my opinion although I do hear people referring to their furniture in the third person. I guess there are qualities that even I don’t know about despite my close affiliation to the subject.

Perhaps this is decadent. I don’t think so. I believe it is involvement, the kind of involvement that gives dimension to life.


The exhibition at MoMA of Pissarro and Cezanne paintings is spectacular.

And while you are there, look at the late 19th and 20th century furniture. What Charles Rennie Mackintosh understood and which I don’t credit many other architect designers since that time as understanding, is how important vertical line is in creation. His chair and his poster at MoMA both demonstrate this and they are inspiring designs even though the chair will never be comfortable other than as a perch.

This detail alone, at least for me, makes him stand out from his peers and successors.


My use of the word tactile to describe one aspect of my business is slightly off the mark. Sensual is a better word as that is what engaging objects is all about. I suppose that I could have been a lawyer or an accountant and made my hobby sensual, but I lucked out and made it my business.

I visited MoMA yesterday for the first time in years. It was crowded. There was a furniture exhibition of late 19th to late 20th century designs. There was a Mackintosh chair that a classmate of mine at the London College of Furniture copied for her year end project. It has a high back with a an oval tablet held between the two stiles. The through tenons through which the tablet fit were very difficult to cut. It is a beautiful chair, but uncomfortable. There was a Rietveld chair as well that another classmate copied–a cubist conception made of one by ones used as a scaffolding to hold two pieces of plywood that made the seat and the back. The end grain of the one by ones are painted different colors than the rails and seat to emphasize the cubist nature of the design. This chair was also uncomfortable.

Some of the furniture from the last one hundred years such as the Marcel Breuer tubular steel chair works wonderfully and is still manufactured today. Other pieces are exercises in draughtsmanship where the designers seem to either be complementing or competing with the fine arts world. The thought behind them is often clever but as furniture to live with, I can’t help but be wedded to the 18th century.


When I speak of connectivity, I am referring to relationships that objects have to one another and why they are the shape, material and size that they are. But there is also the relationship that humans have with objects.

Objects are entirely different in how they touch us. The relationship that we create with an object, it doesn’t really matter what the object is, is elemental. Citizen Kane’s sled, Rosebud, reverberated in his mind for reasons that we could speculate on until the end of time.

I have a similar sense about English furniture. It is almost a belief system where I trust intrinsically in what I am looking at. My mechanic has that feeling for cars, something I do not nor ever will share. It is the best part of being in the tactile world.