HOW TO AVOID DESIGN SNOBJECTS - PART II

Another prominent "snobject" is Ron Arad's mutation of a bookshelf entitled "Bookworm." This belongs to the school of contemporary design which worships novel use of material over all other things including, of course, functionality. It describes itself with this gobbledygook: 

"A careful analysis of extrusion technology has allowed the creation of a curvy bookcase which assumes any desired shape, without compromising toughness and functionality. Unlimited shapes can be formed, limited only by personal creativity." 

aradbookcase 2.jpg

The bottom line is that you can hold less books, more awkwardly, for more money than any previous bookcase. Prices are about $450 for the small one, $800 for the medium and $1200 for the large.

Bookshelves.JPG

Seeing a bookcase made of bricks and boards feels like a breath of fresh air after seeing this design monstrosity. No wonder Enzo Mari, the Jeremiah of modern design, called Arad's Bookworm bookcase "pure shit."

Believe it or not, there is an even worse form of "snobject." This quintessence of design villainy is produced when a designer does something wonderful to teach economy and simplicity and, in the hands of marketers, that design is perverted into a "snobject." Case in point: the Mezzadro chair by Achille Castiglioni (1918 - 2002). He made the chair in 1957 from a tractor seat, an L-shaped metal bar from the tractor and a wooden dowel to stabilize the side-to-side movement. He intended it as a demonstration of the simplicity and economy with which elegant design could be accomplished.

Mezzadro.jpg

The word "Mezzadro" means "sharecropper," the poorest sort of farmer. What has happened to this design in the hands of the commercial design establishment? You can now pay homage to poor farmers for $1,010. Sic transit design mundi.

I call on those who value design as a socially useful way to improve life to reject the sort of design which produces "snobjects." I conclude by repeating the characteristics which may indicate you are seeing a "snobject."

1. It does not give priority to function.

2. It fixates on appearance, novelty or celebrity connection.

3. It costs more than it should.

4. It glorifies the designer (sometimes after stealing or perverting the design.)