Thursday, July 15, 2010

Usefulness and beauty

click photo to enlarge
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
William Morris (1834-1896), English designer, artist, writer and socialist

William Morris's dictum is one that most people find it easy to agree with, but hard to put into practice. In theory, the objects that we buy come in so many designs, styles and fashions that it shouldn't be difficult to find one that fits his criteria. However, the depths of one's pockets, the fact that products often converge towards a form that sells, and the desire on the part of the manufacturers and the public for "novelty" in design, make it much harder than it should be.

Today's photograph is of a glass jug that we bought recently. We settled on this fairly inexpensive model after rejecting more than a few. It's functional - always a good start as far as beauty in product design goes - and has no applied ornament of any description. Nor does it have the swoops and swirls of form that had been inflicted on quite a few of the jugs we considered. I took my photograph after placing it on a sheet of finely textured black vinyl in some sunlight that was streaming through a window. And, as I did so, it occured to me that there is a third consideration that I often apply to the purchase of a new object - can I get a photograph or two out of it? In fact, if you act on Morris's wise words the answer is invariably, "Yes".

Incidentally, when I was preparing this blog entry I happened to notice that it is number 1,015. I've tried to make a point of noting milestones in the progress of PhotoReflect, but I somehow missed one of the most significant. Ah well!

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.8mm (60mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f4
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On