"Furniture is the servant of fantasy just as much as it is a response to practical everyday needs. The whole notion of the domestic interior as scenery for a play which we make up as we go along, and therefore of pieces of furniture as components in a constantly shifting and capriciously altered three dimensional collage, is propagated today in every interior decorating magazine. Its roots lie in the eighteenth century, with individualists like Horace Walpole and William Beckford, and it established itself firmly in the nineteenth, when multiplicity of stylistic choice led eventually to the breakdown of previously fixed categories, a kind of overflowing from one compartment to another which can be seen in many contemporary representations of Victorian interiors. It was at this time that isolated examples of old furniture acquired the kind of talismanic force which many people attach to them today, and became the foci for ideas and emotions which were not necessarily connected to their appearance.

The study of furniture, which arose from antiquarian interests of the nineteenth century, has ever since been bedeviled by an obsession with "antiques." . . . .  (This book) tries to show how furniture is related to the general development of society, and also to the psychology of the individual." 

-"Furniture: A Concise History"  by Edward Lucie Smith (1979) 

I have authority problems, it's just a fact of my life. I tend to question a lot of things many people take for granted, probably because they take them for granted. If pressured I will use the word "irreverent" to describe myself. 

I've started to develop suspicious ideas in regards to words like "heirloom," and the reverence for antiques.  I'm not sure where they take me, but this passage spoke to them. 

If only I could carve out the time to write "The Irreverent Design Book." 

There may be more on this. Or not. Things are still formulating. 

Ratione et Passionis


  1. Heirloom, like beauty is in the eye of the heir. I have seen a lot of articles land in the hands of the next generation, only to be sold, pitched, or given away. I think most reverence these days revolves around monetary value as opposed to social or personal values. I have not read many of what most would consider classic books nor seen many films that are thought of as "must see". I often think I would tend to go there if folks didn't tell me I simply must. It can be lonely being your own man, but you strike me as one who would admit that he might have been wrong when you were and given a nudge by the right person, look down an alley you have been ignoring. I hope I have not been presumptuous in my comments.

    1. I'd really like to believe I'm a person who can admit my faults and be persuaded by reason and evidence.

      I am less hooked on the supposed "heirlooms" passed on from grandma and piled up in the corners of antique shops, and more hooked on the use of the word by us as makers, (I am guilty as most, Check the upper left hand corner of this page) I just got the Thos. Moser catalogue in the mail last week and I can't tell the difference between his stuff and Sam Maloof's any longer. His early work was grounded in Shaker traditions, now it sculptural studio. Moser, Maloof, Jeff Miller, and on. I can see the differences in their taste and work but I don't think the general public really can. I can understand how that sculptural work is interesting for the maker, but what about the end user.

      We get wrapped up in the idea these giants from the past built these great works of art, meant to last forever. Worshiped, rebuilt, reimagined, and imitated. But these giants built things that were lost and tossed away like Walmart bookshelves too and not just because of some careless son in law.

      See what I mean about formulating. I haven't wrapped all these things up into a package with a bow and I'm not sure I ever will.

      Please don't ever worry about being presumptuous here. I welcome it all!


  2. The "talismanic force" of antiques is more, I think, a creation of collectors and curators who strain to elevate the values of their collections and aspirations and of the dealers who market to them. It just would not be effective to push antiques like some used car salesman in a plaid sports coat.

    As practitioners of the craft, we can appreciate workmanship of great quality when we find it without the gushing sentimentality of the collectors, curators and antique salesmen.



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