The emotion before the function

June 29, 2010

“With flowers we are always in trouble, vases are too small or to short. But it’s not vases’ fault. By the way, there is still the habit of the XVIII century to send too many flowers. One flower is enough to shake the air”




With these words Ettore Sottsass, one of the two grandfathers of the Italian design (the other one is Achille Castiglioni. From here, the legendary and perennal conflict between Hector (Ettore) and Achilles (Castiglioni) like Homer’s Iliad, two men each being perfectly reasonable in his own parallel universe), tried to explain in his last interview for “Repubblica” the function of the objects. This functionalism, he said, is in the hope, given to the objects, to find their own function. Let’s take the example of the bookcase “Carlton”: many critized it because it was oblique and it has no function. But the shelf per se has no function, it’s the user himself that has to find it. “The emotion before the function”, he claimed.






Not so far from Sottsass’ idea, another contemporary designer developed his thoughts in the same path, Ron Arad. For him, the function takes the second place, after the form and the shape. Hence, he can create “a piece like a big vase, let’s call it vase, but we shouldn’t call it vase. I don’t care if people use it or not, but I enjoy discovering the process, what I can do with the material, which kind of shape I can obtain, and the fnction, in this case, is merely an alibi”.




In this extent, we don’t buy furniture firstly and mostly comfortable, but rather we buy them in order to show our status: a sort of decline into mere appearance, a sort of “Society of spectacle” in which what is more relevant is no longer being, neither having, but just appearing…


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