Significant Clutter

Posted by Rob Walker on July 24, 2009
Posted Under: Things/Thinking

Probably my favorite thing to look at on Design*Sponge is anything in the “sneak peek” category: Images of the homes or work spaces of Design*Sponge-ish creators and retailers and so on. They’re interesting because they’re so unlike the spare and clinical interiors often featured in more mainstream Design Think contexts, such as certain shelter magazines (not to mention catalogs) and the like, where the decor is always minimal, and there’s no clutter beyond one or two art books. In contrast, the spaces documented in these Design*Sponge photo-posts are often full of colorful clutter; the walls aren’t empty and white, they’re jammed with images. They’re rarely minimal.

spotted1There’s nothing wrong a with a spare interior, and the clean-and-white look has its charms. But it very rarely seems lived-in. Whereas the D*S spaces do (even if the owners no doubt cleaned and straightened before offering documentation to a Web audience).

I’ve been thinking about this again lately because of the Significant Objects project. I doubt any of our objects could, on aesthetic terms alone, be singled out as worthy design. And yet I can easily imagine the Golf Ball Piggy Bank, or even the Spotted Dogs, in one of these D*S settings. Not for aesthetic reasons, but for narrative ones. There’s no shortage of mysterious and interesting objects in those picture-posts that always make me wonder: What’s the story with that thing? And you know there’s a story; that’s really why the objects are there.

1a-piggybankNow you could point out that the bric-a-brac that pops up in the D*S pictures has stories that come from their owners lives’, whereas our Significant Objects have stories that come from the imaginations of our contributing writers. Then again, the people who have been buying the Significant Objects aren’t simply accepting a story someone else has created — they are adding that story to their own story. When somebody asks, “What’s with that golf ball bank?” or “What’s with that weird dog sculpture?” the the owner is not likely to merely recite what Todd Pruzan or Curtis Sittenfeld wrote, though they may incorporate that into the tale of learning about Significant Objects and deciding to get involved and so on and so forth. It’ll be a great story, actually.

And as I’ve said before, elsewhere, that’s really where the meaning of things comes from: us. That’s why I wonder as I do when I look at some of those D*S “sneak peek” images — I wonder about peoples’ stories intersecting with stuff.

Oh, and speaking of S.O.: Today’s story is now up: A duck tray + story by Stewart O’Nan.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Comments are closed.

Previous Post: