Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In praise of the unique

click photo to enlarge
I'm a fan of good industrial design. Objects like the anglepoise lamp, the Thonet No. 14 bentwood cafe chair, the Braun ET22 calculator, or the Dreyfuss 300 telephone, made attractive and functional design available to everyman (though in some cases it was artful copies that were bought!). There are those who denigrate that which is mass produced in favour of the "designer" label or the "one off". But most people are aware that good design and mass production are frequent bedfellows, and that aesthetic as well as economic benefits flow from this pairing.

But, however good our industrial products are, there is still a place for the hand-made. In fact the perfection and ubiquity of mass produced items seems to make us crave the individual, unique, even flawed products of craftsmen and artists. It may also account for the recent rise in home-based crafts such as collage, card and candle making, etc. There seems to be a fundamental human need to have hand-made things around us, not just out of necessity, but for deeper psychological reasons, perhaps connected with where we have come from as a species.

Today's photograph is a detail from a hand-made glass bowl, one of two recently bought from a gallery exhibition. The irregular pattern and colours of varying depths suggest the sea, and the way the lines swirl around and converge at the bottom of the bowl give a sense of movement - like water going down a plughole! The bowls have a matt finish on the exterior and are glossy inside. I set up some bright lights and reflectors around the bowl to highlight the the attractive design, and used a macro lens to capture a detail from inside.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f16
Shutter Speed: 1.0
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0EV
Image Stabilisation: Off