Art and Furniture as Place

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Have you ever become involved in some other imagined world, some fantastical environment full of lore and stories and strange flora and fauna? Does it not sometimes miff you to set this book or podcast or show aside and return to mundanity? Is there a way to enter other worlds in your own home, to become that fantastical realm?

I sure think so. Art, architecture, interior design, our lived environments and habits — they all develop our fantasies, our imagination, our sense of place and even time. Certainly many of us have been somewhere with deep history, and wish we could bring that back home. That ancientness is also part of the appeal of nature, with exposed geological eras, trees from past millennia, and just the knowledge that a particular species of butterfly or mole or hawk has probably lived in a region for hundreds of thousands or years. For me, the rooted ‘placeness’ of home and environment is form of imagination, not merely an aesthetic.

It’s easy to forget that what is now will become history, and much faster than one would think. Our goal is to make the new and now feel historical and otherworldly (and also thisworldly), not in a somewhat phony way by distressing a piece of work, but with texture, color, natural imperfections, and abstract shapes that suggest a variety of possibilities. Take Ares Venetian — it is so many things to us: demons, mars, and war, Venetian Plaster, Chinese landscapes, and more. I suppose some might find that an overwhelming motley of association, but I think it both commands you to contemplate it as a vibrant place-object, and recedes into the background when you are not under its thrall.

Ares Venetian, a work of many realms

The obvious word to use for our work is “unique,” but another word might be “specific.” So much design in the world feels vague, absolutely unplaceable. Sure, it’s often beautiful, and livable, and calming and unbusy. I certainly sympathize with the appeal of a primarily functional and minimal environment. I think a common belief is that a quiet environment allows the people in it to shine and stand out. But I question whether that is really the case. Maybe non-specific environments actually stymie our creativity and growth.

Maybe you should try something new and different when next setting up a room, make it more placeable and imaginative, whether that is done with our work or some other storyful object. Don’t be satisfied with only this world — ask for a new reality.