WHAT IS DESIGN?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Recently a friend of mine rather astutely (or shrewdly) told me he thought the whole business of design and renovation said less about how a person lives and more about how they don’t. Specifically he was referring to me and my resistance to process a failed relationship and how it had manifested itself in my apartment.

I said it was a shrewd observation, right?

I once dated someone who was really into astrology. He believed that, although we are all unique in our own different ways, our behaviors are ultimately determined by our signs. He used his apartment as an example. That thing–WOOF!–was styled within an inch of its life. He was a Cancer–the crab of the zodiac–and like a crab, with its soft, delicate abdomen, he thought of his apartment as his shell, the contents of which were the salvaged bits he assembled to protect himself against outside harm.

Now, to me, that kind of logic is one cat-skeleton-under-your-sofa away from appearing on Hoarders: Buried Alive but it was the first time I began to think about design as symptomatic of something greater than just an affection for pretty fabrics and Eames chairs. [By the way, this was not the relationship in question but I thank you, OK Cupid, for your devilish sense of humor.]

I don’t disagree with my friend. In fact I think he’s actually right, even if what he said made me want to curl into a ball and listen to Bon Iver in the dark. Why else do we jump through all the hoops of making an interior hospitable if not for the perception of an inhospitable exterior? Is that too big of a leap to make? Maybe. Do I care? No. I’m feeling very introspective today, so lay back and enjoy this metaphorical Slip ‘N Slide with me. I think a lot of it has to do with control (or the illusion of having it), which I totally admit about myself. Designing my space, designing other people’s spaces: a lot of it is about gaining control and eliminating chaos and feeling like choosing to place a plant here or put a lamp there is a way of coping with the pressures and emotional stresses in life and oh God I’m venturing into teen cutting territory what is wrong with me I should stop before I admit I dumpster dive to feel alive…

[Isn’t it fantastic how I can start off talking about design and bring it around to wrist cutters? Don’t you find that just CHARMING about me? No? Yea, me neither.]

I’m still not sure what design really is but I don’t think it needs to be only one thing, nor does it need to say only one thing about me or how I feel about myself. It says a lot about who I am! I use design to insulate myself from harmful things but I also use it to satisfy aesthetics. And I’m OK with that.

Now enough with the heavy stuff. Here’s a picture of Finn dressed as a sassy devil:

Meow.

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14 thoughts on “WHAT IS DESIGN?

  1. Mike

    Well,in spite of the fact that I’m a Leo & that I’m not overly materialistic,like your ex I also think of my bits & bobs as comforting. I like being cocooned with things that bring me comfort & offer a bit of protection from the big bad world. Your observations are always interesting if slightly disturbing. But I love Finn in his devil costume; perhaps you could find a matching one for yourself. WOOF!

    Reply
      1. Mike

        I’m always leery of people who are too perfect,they’re usually wound way too tight. I think we’re all a tad disturbed at some level- you manifest your “quirks” in a most charming manner. Lovely home,lovely canine for a lovely person. Viva bien!

      2. Evan Post author

        That’s a PERFECT way of putting. I think I talked around what you so precisely hit on the head: design is the manifestation of a charming (am I going to admit something I do is charming? I guess I am. But you said it first) quirk.

        I like that.

  2. Gregg

    I think when I look at the pictures of your apartment I see someone who likes things that might not exactly match but certainly go together. You also like unique things. One of a kind. You are probably pretty choosy too. Would rather do without until you can get what you want. I might even go one step further that you either love it or hate it and if you hate it no way is it getting through the door.

    Wait, I’m describing myself. Sorry. Bad Habit. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Evan Post author

      Like Mike above you, you are eerily spot on! Although, I think my definition of ‘unique’ is a broad one. Sometimes people throw around that word to justify the $20,000 crushed velvet tuxedo sofa in their living room (and they’d be right) but I feel, in those instances, the real connotation of the word is EXPENSIVE. And, sure, spending more casheesh will always afford you more exclusivity, but I think anything can be one-of-a-kind when it becomes meaningful to the owner, regardless of the tag you popped to get it.

      I was also one of those kids who could build an entire afternoon around making grass skirts for my X-Men in the backyard (Wolverine Goes Tribal) so maybe that’s how I’ve arrived at where I am now. Hm.

      Reply
      1. Gregg

        Well I never did that with X Men but I did have a Big Jim doll that used to take “camping” trips with his friend Big Jeff.

        By unique I definitely meant meaningful more than expensive. I am definitely not a knick knacky person and think the biggest crime in design when you enter someone’s living space and you know they went to “insert store name here” and bought everything the same day and had instant living space. I like the curated look much better. When someone enters my home and says wow I like that poster I can say “yea i got it in Paris when I was in high school” or”that was the first Broadway show I ever saw”.. Stuff should have a story. Doesn’t have to be a great story but personally I want it to be more than I bought it at Ikea. Not putting down Ikea mind you. I own enough of it. I think you get what I’m saying. 🙂

        Gregg

      2. Evan Post author

        I totally get it. And you’re right. I’m so self conscious about someone walking into my space and thinking I swung for a page right out of Design Within Reach. I’m not going to use that as some grand socioeconomic, egalitarian-minded, anti-trend, look-at-me soapbox (um…what?) for why I have stuff from Ikea. It’s simply because I’m CHEAP. However, due to my spendthrift ways, I try my very best to make each thing–to overuse the word–*unique*. Even if I did pull it down from Aisle 9, Bin 10.

  3. Gregg

    To be honest I will be getting a few Ikea items in the spring, mainly an Expedit bookshelf. While I somewhat afraid that it is becoming the shag carpet of the 21st century I also feel it’s really good design and if not really unusual what I put in it will be.

    Reply
    1. Evan Post author

      If I were you or you were me (or we were I or I was thee) I’d take a good look at the Vittsjo series at Ikea. I just installed a wall of them for a project and was really pleased with the results. They’re light, cheap, easy on the eyes and serve the same purpose as the expedit bookshelf without the bulk and heft. (By the way, I have a bit of an aversion to these things because a roommate in college used one as a privacy screen but was really just a poorly devised room divider and now whenever I see them I think of her and her television watching habits and how she could think a bookshelf would muffle the The L Word which, when she was home, PLAYED ON A LOOP.)

      Also, if this is your aesthetic, those Algot wall units are really just the tits.

      Reply
  4. Gordon Roqué

    It seems to be a very shrewd observation about how aspects of your life are manifested in your personal surroundings. Nonetheless, your home has a very warm and happy feeling about it, failed relationships notwithstanding. I found your home (and blog) through Apartment Therapy btw. For me, we can use inspiration to get ourselves through some pretty bleak moments in life. If we feel better or more aware about ourselves in the end, then it is worth it, and if we wind up with a pretty swanky apartment as a result, then so be it. (-:

    Reply
    1. Evan Post author

      Hey Gordon! Thanks for stopping by and checking this mess out–I really appreciate it. I guess a swank apartment *is* a good way to look at it. I just don’t want to find myself one day justifying buying an area rug made of human hair, so if I ever start blogging in that direction please reel me in. Fantastic music btw and I just bought of copy of A Room Made of Windows because of you!

      Reply
  5. Gordon Roqué

    Hi Evan, thanks for listening to my music. It’s my own personal design outlet, among various others. I hope you like A Room Made of Windows, but if you thought it was rather crappy, let me apologize in advance for possibly over-selling it. Btw, if I was a dog, I would so rock that hoodie.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: FREECYCLE: SCHOOLHOUSE BENCH | This Is Not A House

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